35 Comments

The core problem is this: Disney consumed a bunch of brands in order to save both itself and them over the past few decades. Between the death of traditional 2D animation and their pivot to direct to vhs, the decline of the star wars brand as Lucas horrifically misjudged what his audiences wanted, and Marvel facing bankruptcy in the late 90s, the reality is that the only way for these entities to realistically resurge was for them to have serious money and manpower behind them, and Disney did this. People forget because Star Wars is a big name, but they bought Industrial Light and Magic, and that gave them access to a ton of technical workers and equipment they didn't have in house before. Marvel, whose assets may be mainstream but whose actual comics remain increasingly worthless, became a useful cash cow for Disney, as did Star Wars.

Put it like this: none of these three companies or brands would be where they are if they weren't together. Disney bringing them together allowed for them to produce more content that no one had seen before or knew they wanted, and in large quantities.

But the problem with this is that Disney has returned to the worldview they had during their decline during the direct to vhs era: their properties are not holy grails or golden geese to be cared for and released when the opportunity arises; they are mines filled with resources to be exploited for ever cheaper and more watered down product.

I view the increasing amount of lower quality output the way I viewed things like the multiple cinderella spinoffs; these are the ideas of the creatively bankrupt and financially desperate. Disney paid a lot of money for their brands, they pay a lot of money to make this stuff, but in the face of declining interest they've returned to old tricks.

The proliferation of cheap content through streaming services began by bloating budgets, as companies competed to outdo each other, but now they've forgotten that there is only so much time in the day, that viewers cannot consume endless amounts of content forever, and that more is not always good. A subscription service that offers you lots of content is not a bargain when you have ten just like it, because no one can actually consume that amount of content. It's a problem that comics had in the past, pro wrestling and fighting sports have now, and which television is now grappling with: there is such a thing is producing more content than viewers can consume. And if viewers feel like they're lost, if they feel like consuming content is WORK rather than ENTERTAINMENT, they'll just disengage entirely.

Or, put another way, we've gone back to the new coke fiasco, where people failed to grasp that things that are good in small amounts are not always good in large amounts.

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

I agree. It seems like Disney tries to get as much money out of an IP as quickly as possible. Disney movies are almost like Opera huge spectacle, but how many of those movies along side each other every year can you really take? Honestly Disney just needs new more IPs. But even Pixar is having issues with new IPs. Perhaps there is a cap to how much Disney media one can consume in a year.

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Dec 11, 2023Liked by Sonny Bunch

From my POV, Disney's problem began in 2009...when it purchased Marvel Studios. Marvel mutated Disney's DNA, and the people at Disney lost their way. Animation has been the bread and butter of the company, yet live action super hero movies were taking over the place...and most of those super hero movies were not good storywise. It revived a career or two (looking at you, Downey), but in the end, the stories were not memorable...some were even flat out BAD (sorry, Brie--your films were crap). To make the issue that much worse, they cranked the superhero movies out conveyor-belt style. Of course people were going to get burned out and tune out. It has become so bad that X-Men fans are going to be disappointed because no X-Men film will ever hit screens from Disney-Marvel...there is no audience left for the films. The audience is gone. At this point, Iger should offload Marvel and not ABC.

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I have Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Apple TV and honestly they all have the same types of programming- lots of diversity. If your argument is that these show are bad because of writing and character development - I’d buy that. if it’s because they incorporate other cultures ( the ones you mentioned and HBO’s Blue Beetle, Amazon Prime Gen V and Naomi ) then can I remind you that American art industry and most importantly the viewers have always been a bit racist and sexist. America has used the movie industry as a propaganda machine since “ Birth of a Nation”. Music was literally segregated. All Black books non-fiction , fiction, autobiographical were together in the same section of the book store - and there were NO romance novels.

“The struggle is hard” is a theme in every action hero, superhero, Star Wars show- if you struggle is because you’re a poor white guy with no parents - that’s acceptable to most American viewers but if your struggle is you’re an immigrant family and you’re wages are being exploited or other Americans make fun of your food and accent - oh no- That’s too much!

I don’t always like the stories, but they’re entertaining enough and I am glad to see different voices. Just eye roll through the parts that offend your identity or “ American Values”.

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I thought Book of Boba Fett and Obi Wan were great. I don’t get their reputations for being somehow not good enough.

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Dec 9, 2023·edited Dec 9, 2023

Have to kinda push back a little bit on this whole internet-hivemind trend of deeming Disney+'s Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett "bad" shows -- they're perfectly fine, and manage to hit some real emotional highs at times. To call them "bad" is to disregard actual bad shows out there.

Indeed, I recently did a rewatch of Obi-Wan, and it plays even better when binged (like a film), in terms of pacing, story-elements, characters, etc., and despite shifting lead-character focus around two-thirds of the way through, Boba Fett displays some jawdropping scale and scope that not even a number of the actual films themselves were able to accomplish.

While perhaps Tony Gilroy and Andor's own artistic triumphs will be nearly impossible to top moving forward, right now EVERYTHING else Star Wars-related looks somewhat diminished in the wake of that show's stunning release. It reminds me of John Malkovich in Burn After Reading, to a CIA-colleague: "*I* have a drinking problem? Fuck you, Peck, you're a Mormon. Compared to you, we ALL have a drinking problem!"

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My favs are andor, loki 2, and the incredibles. We've seen most of the rest from pg-13 down. all entertaining and amazingly consistent in quality but not particularly thought provoking really either. I think we could be post theater... I mean I guess I want them to still exist, just in case ... but I feel no need to go to one.

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I’m am still a big fan of going to movies in a theater. You just don’t get the same experience as watching it at home. I do have to get over myself though, and realize that the world is not as it was when I was a kid, and there were no choices like streaming, Netflix, or even cable TV. The last three Star Wars movies that were done by Disney would’ve benefited from the prequels, not being as broad and almost cartoonish as they were. I think Lucas got a little over his skis, and wanted to do a little too much expanding and creating on his baby. I did enjoy taking my kids to The Force Awakens because they were the same age as I was when Episode IV was released. We got the pre-sale tickets and waited in line to make sure we got good seats. It was a blast.

What I really want from the House of Mouse it’s for them to release the original Star Wars.

As for all the other Star Wars stories, movies and shows I would vote for a less is more approach instead of the Spinal Tap these go to 11 idea.

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I often wonder how much of the dissatisfaction and lower revenues of The Marvels and The Last Jedi are due to the fact that many men do not want to watch TV shows or movies where the stars are women and POC (with the exception of Black Panther), especially action shows. This is the same thing that happens to women's sports, with the possible exception for the US Women's Soccer team.

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I will go to my grave defending The Last Jedi and I eagerly await some new theatrical Star Wars. Bring on the new Rey movies!

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Dec 8, 2023Liked by Sonny Bunch

A couple of months ago I bought a years subscription to Disney plus, A mistake. But I did observe one thing about Disney that we often forget. They have made a ton of crappy movies just to get the few we fondly remember.. As a streaming service they are no different than netflix. They have a ton of crap to offer and they hope you will enjoy chow ing down on crap.

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Dec 8, 2023Liked by Sonny Bunch

Anecdotal support: members of my family are both very pro-MAGA AND lifelong Disney devotees. IE: their idea of the perfect vacation is 2 weeks in Walt Disney world. They have NOT boycotted Disney or even considered it. To the contrary, they are taking TWO Disney cruises next year. Meanwhile, my extremely progressive Star Wars megafan husband had zero interest in Ashoka and only barely got through Obi Wan or Boba Fett. Disney is producing drek and people have too many options to spend their money at the theater to spend it on drek.

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