The New Disney CEO’s Covid Technique Leans on Streaming Hits Like ‘WandaVision’

20 years earlier than Bob Chapek was named chief govt of Walt Disney Co. , he recognized an unlikely money gusher: a pack of cute, speaking golden retrievers.

Mr. Chapek was the pinnacle of Disney’s home-entertainment division, then using excessive on shoppers’ seemingly limitless urge for food for DVDs. After efficiently pumping out direct-to-video sequels to beloved classics like “Bambi” and “The Lion King,” Mr. Chapek sensed a chance with “Air Bud,” a 1997 hit movie a few basketball-playing canine.

DVDs of the “Air Bud” universe proliferated for 10 sequels and spinoffs launched between 1998 and 2013. “House Buddies,” “Seventh Inning Fetch,” “Snow Buddies” and different titles earned thousands and thousands for the corporate. Although practically all of the “Disney Buddies” movies had been launched straight to dwelling video, Mr. Chapek spent further on orchestral scores, elaborate advertising and marketing campaigns and different gildings normally reserved for main theatrical releases.

At present, the identical instincts are benefiting Mr. Chapek as he shepherds Disney’s transition into the streaming age. A lot as he did then, Mr. Chapek immediately should navigate appreciable disruption and bridge the previous—a library of traditional movies, TV reveals and franchises—with the brand new: a streaming service thought of by Wall Avenue to be the lifeblood and way forward for the world’s largest leisure firm.

“All the pieces he’s doing are issues that we did, solely within the home-entertainment space,” mentioned Robert Vince, chief govt of Air Bud Leisure and a producer on the entire “Buddies” movies.

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