CNBC’s Julia Boorstin Talks to Bob Chapek about Shanghai Disneyland, Reopening the Parks and More

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Today Disney CEO Bob Chapek (yes he’s still CEO like we said) did an interview with CNBC about Shanghai Disneyland opening, ESPN, Disney+, theatrical releases, and of course, what to expect moving forward with US Parks. Of course no time frames were given so don’t get too excited, but it was nice to see Chapek be allowed to take an interview alone. She did throw out some good questions that were ones a lot of Disney investors and fans have been asking.

Here is the video if you would like to watch it. I did transcribe a lot of it below:

His conversation with Julia Boorstin started off with talk about the reopening of Shanghai Disneyland and about ticket sales. Now, it is important to mention that tickets are more of a week to week for that park and he did say some were still available but not many.

Well Shanghai is what we call a short book market, where typically most of the tickets for that week are sold within the week. As you know, as you mentioned we are significantly constraining the amount of tickets that we’ll sell and we are pretty much booked out for the rest of the week. We have a few tickets available on certain days, but essentially everything’s gone.

So the sell out was for a week. I’m sure this trend will continue for the next few weeks as they are “significantly constraining” the amount of tickets per day. It’s only natural that this would happen.

Chapek added “We certainly want to open up as soon as we can across the world but we are going to do so in a responsible way. So, we are excited for our guests, and we excited for our cast. We want to get our cast back to work as soon as possible, so it’s a first step, it’s a baby step and we’re moving slowly, but we are very encouraged by what we see in Shanghai.

When asked about how they could continue operating at 30% capacity Chapek continued:

“Well I look at this as a stair step. We’re going to be very conservative, we’re going to be very prudent, we’re going to be very disciplined about how we open up, and then we’re going to ramp up and increase. Right now the [Chinese] government has a 30% cap of our typical capacity, in terms of the number of guests we can put into Shanghai Disney, and the plan is to essentially go up 5,000 a week, just until we get to the point that we know that we can operate under our guidelines in a way that’s very responsible. And then when the government loosens up those constraints and restrictions then we’ll walk that ramp again, but slow and steady for us.”

Then she basically asked him how possible full capacity would be given the social distancing guidelines.

Chapek replied with “Well we’re going to see how it goes. Right now, a lot of that depends Julia, on the guests. Our guests have been extraordinarily diligent in maintaining that social distancing so far. So a lot of it’s got to do with guest behavior as much as it’s got to do with Disney operations  if the guest continue to behave the way they have, I think we might be able to approach that.

So guest behavior and adherence to set rules and protocols are directly going to play into how fast Disney can open back up to more people and even moving forward into Tokyo and Hong Kong.…..we’re going to do our part and we need our guests to their part too.

I’m hoping since so many want to return to the parks that guest really do obey the rules and help make it safer for others moving forward.

Julia Boorstin does ask about their timeline for other parks, including those in the United States will open and if July was a possibility.

Bob Chapek offered-“Well we’re not going to comment on any specific date. To a certain extent, and a large extent it’s going to depend on, you know, guidance we get from the Federal government, the state government, the local government, health care experts, as well as the immediate hospitals that are in the area of where we operate, and what their capacities are. So, uh, we aren’t going to comment on any specific timing, but I think that it’s a good sign that Disney Springs is going to open up in Orlando. We stuck our toe in the water, if you will, with Disneytown in Shanghai, and we operated that for about a month, and everything went extremely well…..and hopefully we will see that at Disney Springs as well, and this will be the beginning of a great new rebirth of Disney parks.

Of course we didn’t get any answers on reopening directly, however, the comparison to Shanghai’s Disneytown and Disney Springs, could offer a look into time frame if they keep it comparable. It opened back up in early March and then the theme parks opened 2 months later. If that would be repeated it could mean that we see at least one park at Walt Disney World and possibly Disneyland open in July, which is when booking are now reopened for. 

She goes on to ask what the “key” thing they need to do to get US parks up and operational again:

Mr. Chapek said “Well, along with social distancing one of the things that we are likely going to require is masks, for both the cast and the guests. And I think that the masks for the guests will be something that culturally is different. In Asia…it’s fairly common place, even before COVID, for folks to walk around in public with masks on. That is not the case in the US. So that will be something that will be a little trying for some of the guests, particularly in hot, humid summers that we tend to have.

This was a concern that we have mentioned a few times and I know that sources like WDWPro over at WDWMagic have mentioned.

Ms. Boorstin then turns the interview towards the movie arm of Disney asking if they are worried that when they open with Mulan that guests might not return to theaters right away.

Chapek answered again with the “stair step analogy” and continued “..I think that there’s a lot of pent up demand.” He does bring up a very valid point that Monday-Friday most theaters only have 25% capacity due to the lower demand on week-days and that weekend, particularly Friday and Saturday are the days with more demand. The issue won’t likely change much except for the weekend evenings and the feels that can be managed by the exhibitors and he doesn’t feel it’s going to be an extreme issue.

But the hardball questioned continued, and with the next question he looked a little bit affected, as she asked about Artemis Fowl being sent directly to Disney+ and if other films might do the same moving forward.

Here’s how he responded:

You know we believe in the theatrical experience, particularly to launch big, blockbuster franchise films. I mean it fuels the entire Disney company from consumer products, to theme parks, all the way to Disney+. So we really thing that’s the smart way to launch our big, tent pole films. On the other hand, with the luxury of having Disney+ and the success it’s had….we believe that’s also for certain films a very viable and important way to premier films as well. It will be on a very deliberate basis. A film by film basis…but there aren’t going to be any hard and fast rules, I think that the situation with COVID has taught us you need to remain flexible….but we do believe in that theatrical window.”

Then they talk about how thrilled they are with Disney+ being ahead of schedule, this is probably the one are where COVID helped Disney.

She turns the conversation to how the company is being slowed down in film/show production by the guidelines in place that prohibit filming to which he did explain, and he is right about, that pre-production and post-production can and are continuing at the time. It’s mainly the projects that were in filming phases that are taking the hits. Again, this is true. We are also hearing more animation projects are moving forward as they can continue when live-action can’t.

Other topics discussed were ESPN and how they are talking with various leagues about ways to bring back live sports to the fans. Chapek also acknowledged that ESPN and ABC are taking hits from the decline in ad rates over the coronavirus, but he feels it’s short term and will return down the road.

It’s a very informative interview if you would like to give it a watch.

What do you think? Comment and let us know.

Source: CNBC



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