Disney to Double Its Focus on Franchise Properties

Company CFO Jay Rasulo said at Thursday's conference that the studio will allot just 20% of its resources to standalone projects; also will strive to get Interactive Media Group out of the red.

Moviegoers shouldn't expect too much from Disney during the next few years beyond what they're already familiar with.

Company CFO Jay Rasulo said Thursday during an all-day investor conference in Anaheim that the film studio would focus 80% of its resources on franchise properties, up from about 40% last year.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has been emphasizing franchises and brand names since he took the job six years ago, but Rasulo put an exclamation point on the strategy with his pronouncement that Disney's film studio will allot just 20% of its resources to unknown, standalone projects.

It could be a lucrative strategy indeed if franchises perform anything close to the way Toy Story has. The third installment will bring in about $10 billion when video games and other consumer products are factored in, Rasulo said.

Rasulo, in fact, defines a "franchise" fairly loosely to include anything coming from Marvel or Pixar, for example, or any project that has the potential to move from film to other media.

Also at the conference, Disney's new co-presidents of its Interactive Media Group, John Pleasants and James Pitaro, said their money-losing unit will continue in the red for another two years even as it sheds employees and figures out other ways to reduce costs by 25%.

Iger has made it a priority to earn money in that division, which includes video games and Internet initiatives, and told investors Thursday that technology is only "a threat if we fail to adopt it, or try to will it away."

In that regard, distribution president Bob Chapek talked up Disney Studio All Access, a system coming by year's end that lets consumers access their Disney digital content on multiple devices.

Chapek also confirmed details of a new arrangement with Netflix and Redbox, giving them DVDs for $18 each the day they go on sale to the public, then for $10 apiece six weeks later. Other studios have shut out Redbox and Netflix for the first four weeks of a new DVD release.

ESPN president George Bodenheimer also gave a such a rosy assessment of that particular business that Iger joked he'd like to swap jobs with him.

Disney shares were flat Thursday at $43.70 and didn't budge in the after-hours session either.

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