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Bob Chapek on Monday gave his first solo television interview since being named CEO of The Walt Disney Co. in February.
Joining CNBC’s Squawk Alley, the exec noted that tickets for Shanghai Disneyland Park were sold out for the rest of the week. The park reopened Monday after months of being shuttered due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re very encouraged by what we see in Shanghai,” Chapek said. As of now, the capacity for the park is 27,000, which is a government stipulation. Chapek noted the park is allowing far fewer than that, but will increase 5,000 every week to ensure it can be handled, saying it was better to be “slow and steady.”
The Disney CEO said it was still unclear when the domestic parks would reopen, as the decision would rely on state and local restrictions being lifted: “We want to open up as soon as we can across the world, but we are going to do so in a responsible way. We want to get our cast back to work as soon as possible. I think it is a good sign that Disney Springs [shopping complex] is going to open up in Orlando [May 20].”
The success of the Shanghai reopening relies “heavily on the guest,” Chapek said, explaining it was vital that personal responsibility be taken to ensure social distancing. That will also have to occur at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The exec noted that guests and staff of the U.S. parks would be required to wear masks, which he knows could be an issue. “So that will be something that will be a little trying for some of the guests, particularly in the hot, humid summers that we tend to have,” he said.
Just as with the theme parks, Chapek said he believes there is a lot of “pent-up demand” for theatrical releases and confirmed that Mulan will be released in theaters July 24. “It really only becomes an issue on Friday night and Saturday night and to a lesser extent on Sunday night,” he said of limiting capacity at screenings. “In that particular case, I think that can be managed. I think it will be up to our exhibitors who we partner with. I think that is a very good release date for that particular title.”
The executive also addressed when viewers might expect to see live sports return to ESPN.
“I won’t comment on any of the ones [leagues] specifically … but we’re working very, very closely with a variety of scenarios that will bring live sports back,” he said.
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