Dis­ney re­sults jump on its strong movie slate

Dayton Daily News - - BUSINESS - By Mae An­der­son

Walt Dis­ney Co.’s NEW YORK — earn­ings for the lat­est quar­ter sailed passed ex­pec­ta­tions, boosted by a strong slate of movies such as “In­cred­i­bles 2” as the com­pany moves to­ward clos­ing its $71.3 bil­lion deal to buy 21st Cen­tury Fox’s en­ter­tain­ment as­sets.

Dis­ney and other me­dia com­pa­nies are fac­ing a shift­ing land­scape as more TV watch­ers switch to stream­ing rather than tra­di­tional cable bun­dles.

But Dis­ney’s diver­si­fied en­ter­tain­ment port­fo­lio, which runs from films and cable channels to theme parks, helped buoy its re­sults.

Stu­dio en­ter­tain­ment rev­enue, which in­cludes theater box of­fice and stream­ing, jumped 50 per­cent to $2.15 bil­lion on the strength of films such as “Avengers: In­fin­ity War” and the lat­est “Ant-Man” movie.

Net in­come for the quar­ter ended Sept. 29 rose 33 per­cent to $2.32 bil­lion, or $1.55 per share, from $1.75 bil­lion, or $1.14 per share last year. Ex­clud­ing one­time items, net in­come to­taled $1.48 per share. The av­er­age es­ti­mate of seven an­a­lysts sur­veyed by Zacks In­vest­ment Re­search was for earn­ings of $1.31 per share.

The Bur­bank, Calif.-based com­pany’s rev­enue rose 12 per­cent to $14.31 bil­lion from $12.78 bil­lion last year. Four an­a­lysts sur­veyed by Zacks ex­pected $13.81 bil­lion.

A re­duced tax rate also boosted re­sults by $1.2 bil­lion.

Dis­ney is build­ing its stream­ing ser­vice of­fer­ings. It launched $5-a-month ESPN Plus stream­ing ser­vice with sports in April. And a Dis­ney-branded stream­ing ser­vice is ex­pected to launch later next year.

In a call with an­a­lysts Thurs­day, CEO Bob Iger gave a few new de­tails about the new stream­ing ser­vice, which will be called Dis­ney Plus. No pric­ing has been dis­closed.

The com­pany plans to keep in­vest­ing in Hulu and use it as a home for more gen­eral pro­gram­ming. Fam­ily-friendly shows and movies will head to Dis­ney Plus.

The stream­ing ser­vice will fea­ture five cat­e­gories of ma­te­rial: Dis­ney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and Na­tional Geo­graphic. Orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming will in­clude “The Man­dalo­rian,” the first live ac­tion Star Wars se­ries, cre­ated by Jon Favreau; a re­booted “High School Mu­si­cal” se­ries and a new doc­u­men­tary se­ries fo­cused on Dis­ney.

Dis­ney Plus will also pro­duce orig­i­nal movies specif­i­cally for stream­ing. Ini­tial ti­tles will in­clude a pre­quel to the “Star Wars” film “Rogue One” star­ring Diego Luna; “Noelle,” star­ring Anna Ken­drick as the daugh­ter of Santa Claus; a live-ac­tion “Lady and the Tramp” and a movie about the Marvel char­ac­ter Loki star­ring Tom Hid­dle­ston.

With the pend­ing Fox deal, Dis­ney now also takes a con­trol­ling stake in stream­ing ser­vice Hulu, which is jointly owned by Dis­ney, Fox, Com­cast and AT&T.

The Fox ac­qui­si­tion is ex­pected to close at the be­gin­ning of next year. With it, Dis­ney gets Fox TV and film stu­dios, Marvel’s X-Men and Dead­pool, along with pro­grams shown on such Fox channels as FX Net­works and Na­tional Geo­graphic. Fox’s pro­duc­tions also in­clude “The Amer­i­cans,” “This Is Us” and “Mod­ern Fam­ily.”

RICHARD DREW / AP 2017

Dis­ney’s stu­dio en­ter­tain­ment rev­enue for the quar­ter jumped 50 per­cent to $2.15 bil­lion on the strength of films such as “Avengers: In­fin­ity War” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”

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