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Disney exults in Disney+ opportunities: 'Let's stop feeding Netflix'

Walt Disney Studios' chief creative officer Alan Horn has shared details of the reasons why the company launched Disney Plus. Images: Getty, The Walt Disney Company

As celebrity after celebrity appeared onstage on Saturday to promote Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+ (Disney Plus), the message was clear: Disney wasn’t here to mess around.

The multi-billion company is going after families, and it’s ready to rip those viewers away from Netflix, chief creative officer and co-chairman of Walt Disney Studios, Alan Horn, said at the D23 Disney fan convention on Sunday morning AEST.

He said launching Disney+ served a joint purpose of allowing the studio to pursue more smaller films, and to take some of the steam out of incumbent giant, Netflix.

“Over the years I've been at Disney, our strategy has evolved in the theatrical space to meeting event movies,” Horn said.

Last week Disney became the first studio to have five films in one year reap more than US$1 billion at the box office.

“As you know they [the movies] are bigger, they've become more expensive and they're the kinds of films that other studios get out of the way of. They're big movies.

“And during that time, we also made some smaller movies like Saving Mr Banks and there's on called Million Dollar Arm and there's one called Queen of Katwe.

“They're smaller films and they're more challenged in today's marketplace than before,” he said.

Additionally, Horn said Disney CEO Bob Iger had approached him with the Disney+ vision, saying, “Let's start Disney+, let's stop feeding Netflix - which is the great disruptor of our business... but let's stop feeding Netflix with our own movies and go off and ... start our own service.”

For Disney, the streaming platform will provide opportunities to “celebrate movies of a smaller size, that are less expensive”. Those opportunities weren’t always there two years ago, he added.

“We’re very, very excited about Disney+.”

As Disney’s head of direct-to-consumer business, Kevin Mayer said yesterday, Disney+ will be the home of all of Disney’s family friendly content.

So if something belongs to Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, National Geographic or Disney, and is family entertainment - it will ultimately reside on Disney+, even if a project is under contract to air on cable television first.

“It's the intersection of family entertainment and those brands,” he said.

In fact, of the massive stable of classic and new content to land on Disney+, only a few seem truly geared at a slightly older audience.

Announced on Saturday, the new Lizzie McGuire series, starring Hilary Duff as she steps back in McGuire’s shoes as a 30-year-old living in New York and National Geographic’s The World According to Jeff Goldblum are among those.

And, both were trending on Twitter and Google internationally within hours of the news.

The service goes live in the US on 12 November 2019, and will be available for Australian viewers on 19 November 2019.

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