Disney CEO lays out early plan for digital future

Bob Chapek, CEO of Walt Disney Co, speaks during the 2022 Disney Legends Awards at Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, U.S., September 9, 2022. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

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Sep 11 (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co on Sunday sketched out the outlines of a plan for how the entertainment, theme park and consumer products conglomerate will use technology to improve storytelling during of the next 100 years.

Speaking backstage at the company’s biennial D23 Expo fan convention with Reuters, chief executive Bob Chapek went to great lengths to avoid what he called the “M-word” or metaverse, although pushed the company in this direction last year.

Chapek described Disney’s vision for the Metaverse as “next-gen storytelling.” It wants to use data gathered from theme park visits and consumer streaming habits to deliver personalized entertainment experiences, including at the company’s Marvel and Lucasfilm studios.

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“Disney is absolutely a lifestyle,” he told Reuters on Sunday in an interview at the convention in Anaheim, California. “The question is how does our next-gen storytelling leverage what we know of a guest only into this Disney lifestyle, and then deliver unique experiences.”

Entertainment and tech companies have raced to secure a position in the metaverse after Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that his company’s future would be dedicated to creating a robust, three-dimensional, and persistent environment where users’ digital avatars would work, hang out, and pursue their hobbies.

Long before Meta’s announcement, Chapek, who oversaw the parks division before taking the top job in 2020, spent years planning how to extend the theme park experience to people who will never visit the park. one of the company’s six theme parks worldwide.

Disney has begun laying the groundwork for exploring new forms of storytelling in earnest over the past year, appointing veteran media and technology executive Mike White to oversee the new Next Generation Storytelling and Consumer Experiences unit. .

White has been tasked with assembling the technology toolkit that Disney’s creative executives will be able to use.

He also brainstormed ideas for using augmented reality and other technologies to bring a new dimension to storytelling. Chapek cited an early example – an eight-minute augmented reality film that premiered this week on Disney+.

“That could be a really big catalyst for what’s going to show up there and, you know, five to 10 years from now,” Chapek said.

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Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski in Anaheim; edited by Kenneth Li and Stephen Coates

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