Jonathan Kasdan, the Executive Producer and writer on Lucasfilm’s Disney+ series Willow, recently shared that he approves of the series being removed from Disney+.
Earlier this month it was reported by Deadline that Willow was one of many shows and films that would be removed from the Disney+ streaming platform.
The report came on the heels of The Walt Disney Company’s CEO Bob Iger informing investors during the company’s 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.”
Iger went on to detail that many of the programs they created were negatively impacting the company’s bottom line due to their marketing costs outweighing the subscription revenue they were generating.
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.
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.
The Walt Disney Company’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy also revealed, “We are in the process of reviewing the content on our DTC services to align with the strategic changes in our approach to content curation that you’ve heard Bob discuss.”
“As a result we will be removing certain content from our streaming platform and currently expect to take an impairment charge of approximately $1.5 to $1.8 billion,” she relayed. “The charge, which will not be recorded in our segment results, will primarily be recognized in the third quarter as we complete our review and remove the content. And going forward we intend to produce lower volumes of content in alignment with this strategic shift.”
Reacting to the report the series was getting removed, Kasdan tweeted, “I’ve been quiet on this news that Willow is leaving Disney+ ’cause… I’m kinda into it. I grew up at a time when Disney movies were periodically re-released and not available to own, and it made them… more special. I worry about many things…”
He added, “… but NONE of them are that Willow will never be available again, either on Disney+ or perhaps… someplace else, & ya never know where that could lead… stranger things have happened. So grateful for all the love and enthusiasm; it’s truly what keeps these worlds alive.”
Reacting to Kasdan’s comments, scooper WDW Pro said, “That last statement has to be the dumbest thing I have ever read. ‘So grateful for all the love and enthusiasm; it’s truly what keeps these worlds alive.’ The Willow world is dead and you killed it, sir. Kasdan, you killed Willow.
“It was a cult classic from 30 years ago and you managed to bury it. You managed to bring it back only to beat it into submission so that nobody cares at all,” he continued.
He then asserted, “And now, now that that world is dead the idea that it’s more special because you can’t view it, and who knows maybe in 30, 50 years maybe it will be sold off and it can be on Turner Classic streaming, a new channel that’ll be somewhere out there, or maybe it’ll be on some godforsaken YouTube channel that nobody watches in 60 years. Who knows, right?”
“This is whistling past the graveyard while they bury everyone you love,” he concluded. “This is just bonkers.”
What do you make of Kasdan’s comments?