Disney+ has turned Encant into a franchise, says Disney CEO

Encanto is Disney's latest franchise and has streaming to thank for that, according to CEO Bob Chapek.

Speaking to Bloomberg after Disney's latest earnings report, Chapek said the film “has proved to the world that we can build a Disney franchise on the back of Disney+.” He cited its merchandising success and chart-topping hit “We Don't Talk About Bruno,” and said both followed the film's debut on the streaming platform.

Encanto received a month-long theatrical window after opening on November 24, departing from the day-and-date and straight-to-streaming releases that Disney's other animated tentpoles were given in the pandemic. It grossed $94.2 million domestically and $237.4 million worldwide - low numbers for Disney historically, but decent for the Covid era.

After launching on Disney+ on Christmas Eve, the feature became the fastest title on the platform to hit 200 million hours of viewing time, Disney said. The film has earned a Golden Globe and many other honors, including three Oscar nominations. “Bruno” has gone to #1 in the U.S. and other countries, and has become a Tiktok phenomenon.

“We'd love for theatrical to come back for family movies - we hope it does - but if it doesn't, we know we're very secure in being able to use our own platform, Disney+, to help [build a franchise],” Chapek added.

Disney reported 11.8 million new Disney+ subscribers in the quarter ending January 1, beating analyst expectations by almost five million, and forecast continued strong growth in the coming year. Total global subscribers now stand at 129.8 million. Income from theme parks and resorts also hit a record $7.2 billion, exceeding even pre-pandemic levels.

The report contrasts with Netflix's underwhelming recent quarter, which spread doubt about the long-term profitability of the streaming business and sent the company's value crashing. Disney's shares, on the other hand, popped around 8% in after-hours trading yesterday.

Chapek has often affirmed streaming's centrality in his strategy. Early in his tenure, he restructured the company in such a way that films are no longer bound for theaters by default. Announcing his three “strategic pillars” for Disney's success last month, he said of consumers: