Willow writer John Bickerstaff recently responded to a report that The Walt Disney Company would be removing Lucasfilm’s Willow series from its streaming service just six months after it aired its finale as “absolutely cruel.”
A report from Deadline detailed that The Walt Disney Company would remove Willow, The Making of Willow, Big Shot, Turner & Hooch, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, Just Beyond, Diary of a Future President, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and The World According to Jeff Goldblum from its Disney+ streaming platform.
Other titles being removed from Disney+ include: Marvel’s Project Hero, Marvel’s MPower, Marvel’s Voices Rising: The Music of Wakanda Forever, Cheaper by the Dozen (remake), Rosaline, The One and Only Ivan, Stargirl, Artemis Fowl, The Princess, Encore!, A Spark Story, Black Beauty, Clouds, America the Beautiful, Better Nate Than Ever, Weird but True!, Timmy Failure, Be Our Chef, Magic Camp, and Howard.
Earth to Ned, Foodtastic, Stuntman, Disney Fairy Tale Weddings, Wolfgang, It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer, The Real Right Stuff, The Big Fib, Rogue Trip, More Than Robots, Shop Class, Pick the Litter, Own the Room, Among the Stars, Harmonious Live!, and Pentatonix: Around the World for the Holidays will also reportedly be removed from Disney+.
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The outlet also reported that Y: The Last Man, Dollface, The Hot Zone, Maggie, Pistol, The Premise, Love in the Time of Corona, Everything’s Trash, Best in Snow, Best in Dough, Darby and the Dead, The Quest, and Little Demon are being removed from Hulu.
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These removals come after The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger admitted in the company’s most recent Q2 FY23 Earnings Results webcast that the company “made a lot of content that is not necessarily driving sub growth and we’re getting much more surgical about what it is we make.”
“So as we look to reduce content spend, we’re looking to reduce it in a way that should not have any impact at all on subs,” he asserted. “We believe there is an opportunity for us to focus more on real sub drivers.”
In fact, Iger went on to detail that many of these pieces of content that they created were negatively impacting Disney’s bottom line due to their marketing costs outweighing the subscription revenue.
He explained, ““And one interesting example — I should throw marketing in too — where when you make a lot of content everything needs to be marketed. You’re spending a lot of money marketing things that are not going to have an impact on the bottom except negatively due to the marketing costs.”
“One thing we also know is that our films, those that are released theatrically, big tentpole movies, in particular, are great sub drivers, but we were spreading our marketing costs so thin that we were not allocating enough money to even market them when they came on the service,” he said.
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He even admitted that some piece of content programming were not driving any subscriptions, “As witnessed by the ones that are coming up including Avatar, Little Mermaid, Guardians of the Galaxy, Indiana Jones, Elemental, etc…, where we actually believe we have an opportunity to lean into those more, put the right marketing dollars against it, allocate more away from programming that was not driving any subs at all.”
“I guess this is part of the maturation process as we grow into a business that we had never been in. We are learning a lot more about it. Specifically, we are learning a lot more about how our content behaves on the service, and what it is consumers want,” he concluded.
In response to this report that Willow will be pulled from Disney+, Bickerstaff took to Twitter where he wrote, “They gave us six months. Not even. This business has become absolutely cruel.”
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He added, “Before you say tax-write off: these shows have already been released and so can’t be a write-off. And in the case of Willow, they own the property outright. The only conclusion is that this is to get out of paying residuals. During a strike.”
He did admit, “And look, eternal streaming libraries are not sustainable. We’re all going to have to adjust to that at some point. But to spend [REDACTED] on a show and then disappear it six months later is just bad business.”
Bickerstaff’s fellow Willow writer, Brittney Jeng, also reacted to the news writing, “My 1st ep of TV is being wiped from the streamer after only 6 months!!! This totes blows Disney!!! Before there were dvd box sets to have as a keepsake. Now it will be as if it never existed.”
What do you make of Bickerstaff’s comments? What do you think about The Walt Disney Company pulling these shows from Disney+?
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