At a star-studded event, Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek had nothing but positive things to say about the company’s past, present and future.
As reported by Variety, Disney was loud and proud at the 2022 Upfront event, with the CEO boasting endlessly about the company and its future.
During his first-ever company upfront, Disney CEO Bob Chapek opted not to discuss the continuous stream of controversy following the company, instead opting to open his presentation by calling the Walt Disney Company “the most powerful force in the industry”. Chapek also noted how he started his career in advertising
“I can’t help but think about this moment in the context of what this company has always been, what it is today, and what it will be. Over the last 100 years, we’ve brought iconic stories and characters to life in new and innovative ways. We shake global culture, and creating new memories for millions of families and fans, across generations” said Chapek, “And we’ve repeatedly defined and redefined the entertainment landscape through pioneering technologies that give our storytellers bigger and better candidates. And we created an unmatched synergy machine that enables audiences to make our stories part of their everyday lives.”
Chapek’s overall message: “We have a portfolio of dynamic distribution platforms, linear networks, digital channels, and of course, our powerful and growing streaming services… The Walt Disney Company is unrivaled. In fact, when you look at the entertainment landscape I believe Disney stands alone.”
The night was filled with unabridged praise for everything Disney, whether it be the Parks, Resorts, Hotels, or the ever-expanding selection of Marvel or Star Wars content on its streaming service Disney+.
Only Murders in the Building stars Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez appeared to tout the upcoming second season of the Hulu series, which Disney General Entertainment chair Peter Rice noted was the most-watched original comedy in the streamer’s history.
Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo boasted about the show’s 19-season run, making it the longest-running medical drama in TV history. Grey’s Anatomy broke ground with characters from underrepresented backgrounds to television screens, including the first gay Asian surgeon, the first recurring deaf doctor, and this season, the first recurring non-binary surgeon,” she said. “It’s part of the mission of delivering a story for everyone.”
Kumail Nanjiani discussed his Welcome to Chippendales, project, which is based on Indian American businessman Steve Banerjee. “I am very excited being at a Disney event talking about Chippendales — not the Rescue Rangers. Our show is about the male strip club that started in the late 70s and became extremely popular throughout the 80s. So again, they are Chip and Dale, Rescue Rangers, chipmunks, cute adventures, no pants. And we are Chippendales — stripping, drugs, murder. No pants. So we do have a lot in common. There are no pants involved in either thing.”
The night was filled with other celebrities such as World News Tonight anchor David Muir, retired NFL icons Peyton and Eli Manning, Amy Schumer, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to name a few.
Walt Disney Studios present Sean Bailey shared an early glimpse of the film Disenchanted, the sequel to Enchanted, starring Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey. He also showed a clip from Hocus Pocus 2, the long-awaited sequel to the original Halloween-themed film starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy.
“We have roughly 35 films for Disney+ in active production and post-production,” Bailey said. “But that’s just a tiny look at what’s coming from visit plus from our corner of the business.”
This event could not come at a more tumultuous time for The Walt Disney Company, however, with endless strands of backlash circling it constantly. This vicious cycle can be traced back to Disney’s stance (or lack thereof) on Florida’s Parental Rights Act, better known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The company was lambasted for donating to sponsors of the bill, despite Disney’s outspoken support for diversity, inclusivity, and overall progressiveness. The backlash the company received prompted Chapek to issue a formal statement which also did not go over well.
Eventually, The Walt Disney Company denounced the bill, offering to donate millions to the Human Rights Campaign. This was ultimately rejected, leaving Disney in an awkward position. This was not the end of it, though with several key politicians, as well as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attempting to dissolve Disney’s Reedy Creek District, a special ruling that allows Disney World to operate as its own “government”.
The situation between Disney and the state of Florida remains incredibly tense, and the relationship between the state, or at least the current Governor, is tarnished. Despite all of this, Disney and the Disney Parks continue to break the record and pull in massive profits.
What Disney project are you most excited about?