Dis­ney slips into the red for first time since 2001

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By James Tit­comb in San Fran­cisco

‘Theme parks have been hit hard, over­shad­ow­ing the wildly suc­cess­ful launch of Dis­ney Plus’

DIS­NEY posted its first loss in al­most two decades last night af­ter the coro­n­avirus cri­sis cre­ated a perfect storm for the global en­ter­tain­ment gi­ant, with most of its key busi­nesses ground­ing to a near-halt. The com­pany said it made a loss of $4.7bn (£3.6bn) in the three months to the end of June as sales slumped by 40pc to $11.8bn.

Dis­ney also re­vealed that its live­ac­tion re­make Mu­lan would be sold di­rectly on Dis­ney Plus, its stream­ing ri­val to Net­flix, in­stead of be­ing re­leased in the­atres, sig­nalling an­other shift away from the in­dus­try’s reliance on cin­e­mas.

The com­pany’s theme parks, cruise lines, movie busi­ness and sports broad­cast­ing di­vi­sion have all been hit hard by the pan­demic, over­shad­ow­ing the wildly suc­cess­ful launch of Dis­ney Plus.

While sub­scribers to Dis­ney Plus hit 57.5m, rev­enues at its tourism busi­ness, which in­cludes theme parks and cruises, fell by 85pc. Its theme parks were largely closed in the quar­ter, and al­though Shang­hai and Hong Kong attraction­s re­opened, at­ten­dance has been lim­ited. Other parks that have re­opened since, in­clud­ing its Dis­ney World re­sort in Florida, have done so with safety mea­sures such as face masks and en­ter­tain­ers keep­ing their dis­tance from chil­dren.

The com­pany’s cruise ships have been docked and block­buster projects such as Avatar and Star Wars have been de­layed for at least a year, squeez­ing rev­enues at its stu­dio arm.

In Fe­bru­ary it re­vealed that its long­time chief ex­ec­u­tive Bob Iger was step­ping down, stay­ing at the com­pany as chair­man un­til next year. Parks boss Bob Chapek has taken over as chief ex­ec­u­tive, al­though Mr Iger is be­lieved to have taken a more hands-on role dur­ing the pan­demic than ex­pected.

The com­pany last made a quar­terly loss in early 2001, when it wrote down hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars on Go. com, the web por­tal it had launched two years ear­lier dur­ing the dot­com boom.

Dis­ney Plus hopes to at­tract more sub­scribers with pop­u­lar new con­tent such as Bey­oncé’s vis­ual al­bum ‘Black is King’

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