Thanks to the Age of Information most of us know a bit about business; we have a rough notion of the meaning of ‘turnover’ and ‘expenditure’, and experience at first-hand a company’s changes to its ‘product lines’. We also have an idea about what makes one tumble or thrive, and every so often we see a company singled out because of what it produces. Disney is one such company.
Founded in 1923 by brothers Walt and Roy Disney, The Walt Disney Company began to animate cartoons mainly starring ‘funny animals’. Its first production was Alice’s Wonderland in 1923, closely followed by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit; Mickey Mouse – the most famous – made his debut soon afterwards in 1928. Since it began, the company has grown in popularity and strength and is now the world’s largest independent media company, according to CNNMoney.com in 2009.
Disney no longer just makes cartoons. The company has established itself as the leader of production of live-action films and television shows, and has of course popular theme parks all over the world. On that point, it invests roughly three quarters of a multi-billion-dollar spending budget in the parks and resorts each year and according to analysts spends even more when developing new parks. As a thriving business, versatility and fingers-in-pies is Disney’s secret.
‘Storytelling is literally in our DNA,’ said executive vice president of publishing and digital media Andrew Sugerman in 2017. ‘It’s where we start and finish each day at Disney’ But Disney has an ability to make a story become more than just a story. The content of their films often becomes so entwined in the consciousness of the viewer that a surge in sales of immersive merchandise is inevitable. Branded books, lunchboxes, stationery and hundreds of other products earn additional capital.
Then there is the quality of the storytelling and the workmanship of the animators. Disney is renowned for its expertise in the field of movie making and its productions are seen by many as the go-tos for wholesome family entertainment. Give or take a year or so and just one Academy Award in the 1970s, Disney has won an Oscar year-on-year since ‘Flowers and Trees’ in 1931.
The company’s ability to cross different types of media is another reason for its success. Shows especially for children on channels dedicated to the Disney brand feature characters from its well-known films, and many of the films have straight-to-video sequels that are equally as popular. Disney makes movies into shows and shows into movies. High School Musical, Hannah Montana and Suite Life of Zack and Cody did well when released in theatres.
Because of the unique way in which Disney operates, the receipts from popular films have an impact on investment in other products. For instance according to the website The Motley Fool, 2014 was a good year for Disney which resulted in an increase in operating revenue and greater returns on merchandise. The boost allowed it to add another string to its bow: the Disney Infinity video game, which incorporated collectable characters from its various other franchises.
Disney constantly creates; not just movies, but entire worlds. The success of Disney’s films or rather the stories it tells are what drive the company forward. And the characters, scenarios, even the outfits and soundtracks comprise the foundation of the strength of the other disciplines.
A film released spawns books, video games, merchandise, sequels and theme park rides. The more popular the film the more subsidiaries made, the larger the investment in theme parks. It would be a win-win situation for any company. As consumers, enjoying everything Disney has to offer means just one thing: we become more eager than ever to see the company’s next cinematic release.