Disney To Pull Movies From Netflix and Launch Its Own Streaming Service

Disney has announced plans to pull its content from streaming behemoth Netflix, as it readies its own service dedicated to Disney and Pixar movies.

During its latest earnings report, the house of mouse said it would be divorcing itself from Netflix towards the end of 2018, ending the distribution deal and replacing it with a new Disney-centric service planned to launch in 2019.

Netflix Original Marvel series such as Jessica Jones and Daredevil will remain on Netflix, but it’s uncertain what the move would mean for Marvel and Star Wars movies. No specific mention was made of these properties, but it’s very likely Disney will want to shift them to its own platform.

“We continue to do business with the Walt Disney Company on many fronts, including our ongoing deal with Marvel TV,” said a spokesperson for Netflix.

Disney’s exclusive deal with Netflix was settled in 2012 but only came into action last year. The announcement will come as a major blow for Netflix, left watching some of its most valuable assets leave like Toy Story’s Woody watching the other toys drive away in a removal van.

“This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the company, one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement.

Disney’s new service will be built using technology from Major League Baseball (MLB)-owned platform BAMTech, and will initially be directed at US viewers. Alongside its backlog of movies and shows, Disney will launch its streaming service with exclusives of upcoming films Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2. The company has said it will also launch an ESPN streaming service for sports next year.

It’s not all bad news for Netflix. In a move reminiscent of Disney, this week it was also announced that the service had acquired comic-book company Millarworld, and that it would be adapting existing material as well as commissioning new projects. Owned by Scottish comic book writer Mark Millar, the studio is responsible for titles including Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service. There may soon be an Iron Man-shaped hole in Netflix’s lineup, but the service could fill this with its own comic-book creations. The Adventures of Buffer Dude and Time Eater, perhaps.


A Robot Magic Kingdom? Disney Wants Huggable Humanoids to Play Characters

The signature characters who wander around Disney theme parks taking photos with kids and signing autographs may be played by huggable humanoid robots in the future.

Disney Enterprises filed a U.S. patent application for a “soft body robot for physical interaction with humans” that would act like an animated character, reported the Orlando Sentinel last week (April 7). The patent describes a rigid robot with pliable chambers filled with fluid or air. Designed to reduce collision impacts with humans, these chambers could sense pressure and adjust its inflation appropriately.

Sketches of a prototype, and the robot’s description, parallel the design of Baymax, a soft-bodied robot from Disney’s 2014 film “Big Hero 6,” according to the Orlando Sentinel. Specific characters were not named in the application, however.

“It’s hard to know why Disney decides to file for a patent, but they have been looking at soft-body robots since ‘Big Hero,'” theme park writer Jim Hill told the Sentinel. “Disney is still terrified that even with this soft technology, a robot could accidentally harm a child. They do a lot of testing.”

Though robots are already used throughout Disney’s parks — including some free-roaming characters like Push the Talking Trash Can and Lucky the Dinosaur — the patent filing notes that it is difficult to ensure complete safety in human-robot interactions, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Disney inventors have already tested two prototypes, according to the patent application. In these tests, “the robot was robust to playful, physical interaction,” which likely means that tests were successful in inflating the robot for safe contact.

Disney officials did not offer comment on the application, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

‘Forbes’ Names the World’s Most Reputable Companies in 2017

Forbes has recently announced its annual list of the World’s Most Reputable Companies for 2017. Complied with the help of The Reputation Institute, the list highlights the top 100 companies based on feedback collected from over 170,000 respondents familiar with the brands. The Reputation Institute also tracks the company’s perception in seven categories, products & services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and performance, scoring them under the RepTrak Pulse measurement system.

For the second time in a row, Swiss timepiece aficionados Rolex tops the list with a RepTrak Pulse score of 80.38. Following in second is the LEGO Group with 79.19; The Walt Disney Company with 79.19; Canon with 78.28; and Google with 78.22. This latest ranking is based on surveys collected in Q1. Take a look at the top 10 below, and head over to Forbes for the full 100.

The World’s Most Reputable Companies in 2017 – RepTrak Pulse Score
1. Rolex (80.38)
2. LEGO Group (79.46)
3. The Walt Disney Company (79.19)
4. Canon (78.28)
5. Google (78.22)
6. Bosch (78.13)
7=. Sony (77.74)
7=. Intel (77.74)
9. Rolls-Royce Aerospace (77.66)
10. adidas (77.27)

Live-Action Beauty and the Beast to Include Disney’s First-Ever Openly Gay Character

Disney will introduce their first openly gay character in the forthcoming live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. LeFou, played by Josh Gad, will spend much of the film wrestling with his sexuality as he acts as Gaston’s (Luke Evans) sidekick. Director Bill Condon shed some light on what we can expect from LeFou in an interview with Attitude, saying:

LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.

Condon says the change in LeFou’s character was inspired by the late lyricist Howard Ashman, who was honored with a posthumous Oscar for the original film’s music after dying from AIDS. According to Condon, Ashman saw the Beast’s ostracism from society as a metaphor for the neglect and persecution HIV-positive people faced in the early days of the disease, and still face today.

But before we go all gooey-eyed for Disney’s seeming act of inclusivity, let’s wait and see how exactly LeFou is portrayed in the film. If Disney decides to use the character’s sexuality as a comedic device (which has happened before in many films), it will be extremely disappointing. Disney has a lot of power, making their potential impact on LGBT representation in frequently hetero-exclusive Hollywood all the bigger—they better not screw this up.

Beauty and the Beast hits theaters on March 17.

Disney Raising Park Ticket Prices During Peak Times

A little less than a year after Walt Disney Co. implemented its new surge pricing system at its U.S. parks, the company has raised one-day ticket prices during the busiest days of the year. All tickets will now come with expiration dates as well.

As of Feb. 12, prices for one-day tickets either stayed the same or went up no more than $5 with a new pricing structure, reports the Associated Press.

The change is the result of a 5% decline in attendance at its theme parks in the most recent — and most important — quarter, which included the holiday season.

The demand pricing structure is meant to lure visitors who are willing to come during off-peak times and in exchange, pay less than they would when everyone else is going. That way, parks aren’t so crowded and everyone has more fun, Disney says.

“Our pricing provides guests a range of options that allow us to better manage demand to maximize the guest experience and is reflective of the distinctly Disney offerings at all of our parks,” a Disney spokeswoman said in a statement.

Every ticket now also comes with an expiration date, whereas previously only one-day and Florida resident tickets expired.

The Beast Learns to Love in the Final Trailer for Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Live Action Reboot

Disney has released the final trailer for Beauty and the Beast, their live action reboot of the studio’s classic animated film directed by Bill Condon. The trailer features the angry Beast (Dan Stevens) learning to love again and completely falling for the beautiful Belle (Emma Watson). Beauty and the Beast is set to magically appear in theaters on March 17th, 2017.

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar® winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

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This Disney Video Proves All Pixar Movies Are Connected

Disney has released a new video that proves, once and for all, that every single Pixar movie is connected. Toy Story, Monsters. Inc, The Good Dinosaur, Cars – they’re all linked. Prepare to have your mind blown.

The surprise video explainer was posted — rather innocuously, with no prior warning — on the official Toy Story Facebook page earlier this week. Starting with Finding Dory, the two-and-a-half minute clip runs through all the characters that have appeared in Pixar films other than their own.

For example, the lead character from Inside Out is also seen in the aquarium in Finding Dory. From Inside Out, we’re connected to The Good Dinosaur by a fossilized Styracosaurus, and from there to Monsters, Inc through a dinosaur toy. We then find out that Sully from Monsters Inc. appears in Brave, Brave links to Cars, Cars links to the daycare centre in Toy Story 3, and much more until each film is connected.

Check out the video.

Disney’s Epcot Center Is Getting Transformed Into A Giant Death Star This Month

There are fewer Disney World images that are more iconic than the Epcot Center. Its’ large, impressive white globe is one of the many things you think of when you remember Walt Disney World.

Well that famous white globe’ getting a Star Wars makeover to celebrate the release of Rogue One which is coming out this Christmas.

What kind of makeover you ask? Well, by turning it into the most iconic spherical shape from the Star Wars series of course.

That’s right, they’re turning Epcot into a mother-flippin’ death star.

Using digital projections, Epcot’s Spaceship Earth is getting the Death Star treatment. The news broke on the Disney Parks Blog, but if you’re hoping on seeing this bad-assery in person, well, we’ve got some bad news for you.

The affair is invite-only, for media peeps. So unless you can grab your hands on some press-credentials, you won’t be able to see it.

If that applies to you, then you can RSVP here. Of course, you could always convince a media outlet not based in Florida to have them give you creds for their publication in exchange for photos.

Disney Poised to Set Film Industry Record After Huge Year at Box Office

Disney owns Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar, so it should come as no surprise that the studio is reaping some insane rewards these days. Still, the levels of success the studio has reached this year are unprecedented, and there’s still two months to go in 2016.

Finding Dory , Captain America: Civil War and Zootopia were all box office smashes, propelling the studio to $5.85 billion in global ticket sales through Nov. 1, per Variety. This number has already eclipsed the studio’s previous record of $5.84 billion in 2015, and the studio still has a trio of sure-to-be-huge hits in Moana, Doctor Strange and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story left on its slate.

The current record for industry box office revenue was set by Universal in 2015 after they successfully launched Jurassic World and released Furious 7, earning $6.89 billion. Disney seems poised to break that record with its remaining slate, especially considering the presence of a Star Wars film in there.

Disney became the fastest studio to hit $2 billion domestically, $3 billion internationally and $5 billion globally earlier this year, but the studio did have several misfires. Alice Through the Looking Glass made less than $300 million on a $170 million budget, and The Finest Hours and The BFG both led to losses for the studio.

“For the second year in a row, the Walt Disney Studios has reached a new high at the box office thanks to an absolutely stellar collection of releases from Disney, Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm,” said the studio’s Chairman Alan Horn in a statement. “This success is a testament to the refined talent and innovative work the entire studio team puts into making these world-class cinematic experiences.”

Star Wars Land Sneak Peek Shows Off Disney’s New Theme Park

We’ve known for some time now that Disney has had a Star Wars-themed park expansion in the works. After getting an initial glimpse back in February, courtesy of Han Solo — we mean Harrison Ford — now we’re back with another look at what to expect from Star Wars Land.

In April, Disney broke ground on the upcoming Star Wars installations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, as they have just provided guests with a new taste of what is to come, via a new image that has been posted on the fence along Big Thunder Trail in Frontierland. This area will in turn act as one of the entry points to Star Wars Land.

The photo showcases a series of markets, landing zones and numerous buildings, resting in between a border of towering rocks. Most notably, you can see the Millennium Falcon sitting in one of the cargo bays, as guests will have the opportunity to pilot the legendary star ship.

Let us know what you think of the early glimpse and be on the lookout for more regarding the 14-acre Star Wars expansions.