“Our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling without boundaries in our own Disney metaverse, and we look forward to creating unparalleled opportunities for consumers to experience everything Disney has to offer across our products and platforms, wherever the consumer may be,” Chapek said during the call.
According to MetaverseRoadmap.Org, a project run by metaverse enthusiasts to track the technology’s progress, a metaverse, originally a concept from science fiction, is “the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space.” Britannica defines the Metaverse as a “network of virtual environments in which many people can interact with each other.”
Apart from Disney, Facebook also announced its induction into the VR world after it rebranded to Meta, in October. Days after Facebook, Microsoft also announced its plans to to build a metaverse inside Teams, its business communication platform, The Verge reported.
While Chapek did not disclose any specific details about the Disney Metaverse on the call, in an interview with CNBC later, Chapek said “My vision is to use Disney Plus as the platform for the Metaverse.”
Disney also announced on the call that its digital platform Disney Plus added over two million subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2021. The total subscriber base for Disney Plus now stands at 118 million, up from 116 million from the third quarter. This marked Disney’s slowest growth till date.
While Disney reported an overall 179 million total subscriptions across Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu, up from 174.9 million in the previous quarter, Disney+ Hotstar, which contributes 37 percent of the total paid subscriber base, decreased from the previous quarter.
“While theatres have generally reopened, we are experiencing a prolonged and gradual recovery in this business,” said company’s Chief Finance Officer Christine McCarthy on the call.
“We expect that the prolonged recovery we are seeing in the theatrical market, paired with the marketing costs associated with each release, may adversely impact the theatrical operating results in the first quarter by approximately $300 million,” said McCarthy.
After cinemas reopened, and restrictions were eased, Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings became the first big-banner film to open in theatres. However, due to the uncertain pandemic scenario, the company decided to stream its films on its digital platform after a 45-day theatrical window.
McCarthy also added that the fourth quarter will be the first time in Disney Plus’ history that the company plans to release original content throughout the quarter, from Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Nat Geo. This includes titles such as Ms Marvel, and Pinocchio, among others.