Disney tops earnings estimates ahead of streaming launch

The entertainment giant expects revenue in the current quarter to be boosted by the final installment of the ‘Star Wars’ film saga. (AFP)
Updated 10 November 2019

Disney tops earnings estimates ahead of streaming launch

  • Revenues in the past quarter were boosted by a 52 percent rise in Disney’s studio operation
  • Disney has become the biggest Hollywood player with the acquisition of studio and TV assets from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox

SAN FRANCISCO: Walt Disney on Thursday reported better-than-expected quarterly results, fueled by the release of blockbuster films “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” as it prepared for its new streaming television service.
Disney profit in the recently ended quarter was $1.05 billion, down from $2.3 billion a year ago, on revenue that grew 34 percent to $19.1 billion.
The slump in profits came as Disney absorbed key film and television operations of 21st Century Fox and geared up for its launch of the streaming service Disney+ that aims to compete globally against Netflix and others.
“We’ve spent the last few years completely transforming The Walt Disney Company to focus the resources and immense creativity across the entire company on delivering an extraordinary direct-to-consumer experience,” said Disney chief executive Robert Iger.
“We’re excited for the launch of Disney+ on November 12.”
Iger said the company reached a deal for the service to be on Amazon’s Fire TV platform, the latest distribution agreement for Disney+.
Disney shares were up more than five percent in after-market trading following release of the earnings figures.
Revenues in the past quarter were boosted by a 52 percent rise in Disney’s studio operations with box office hits “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4” and “Aladdin” fueling gains.
The entertainment giant expects revenue in the current quarter to be boosted by the forthcoming release of a sequel to “Frozen” and the final installment of the “Star Wars” film saga.
It will thereafter take a “hiatus” from “Star Wars” box office films but has an array of spin-off shows planned exclusively for its streaming service.
Disney has become the biggest Hollywood player with the acquisition of studio and TV assets from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.
However, integrating Fox into Disney has cost more than expected and the newly added studios have brought in less money than hoped.
Disney saw smaller revenue gains in its cable and broadcasting operations as well as its theme park division.
Iger would not disclose details of pre-sales of Disney+ subscriptions, but said the price — $6.99 monthly — has met with “great enthusiasm” by consumers.
The Disney+ online streaming service will debut in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands before gradually expanding internationally in Europe then rolling out worldwide.
Its films and TV shows will be available, along with the library it acquired from 21st Century Fox. That includes the “Star Wars” and Marvel superhero franchises and ABC television content.
Disney+ will also combine offerings from powerhouse brands including Pixar, with content from Hulu and sports network ESPN.
Apple last week launched a streaming television service that features a budding library of original shows starring big-name celebrities, aimed at winning over its gadget lovers at home and on the go.
The Apple TV+ on-demand streaming service launched in more than 100 countries at $4.99 per month.
Original Apple TV+ shows have so far been met with lukewarm early reviews, but the low subscription price and an offer of year-long memberships free with purchase of the company’s devices was expected to encourage viewers to tune in.
Netflix, meanwhile, has budgeted $15 billion this year for original shows, on top of the billions it has devoted to exclusive productions in recent years.
Amazon, which has deep pockets thanks to its e-commerce and cloud services, has also poured cash into original shows for its Prime Video service.
This sets up a potential spending war among the major streaming players, according to analysts.
Even more competition looms on the horizon, with AT&T’s Warner Media to launch its “HBO Max” in early 2020 after reclaiming the rights from Netflix to stream its popular television comedy “Friends.”
NBCUniversal’s Peacock service is also launching next year.


Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz mixes maths with art

'Plates numbers Sharjah to Abu Dhabi' by Ebtisam Abdulaziz. (Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2019

Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz mixes maths with art

  • Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz is set to unveil her latest mathematics-inspired piece for the UAE’s Al-Burda Endowment exhibition
  • The Al-Burda Endowment exhibition will showcase the work of 10 selected artists awarded the grant in 2018

DUBAI: Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz is set to unveil her latest mathematics-inspired piece for the UAE’s Al-Burda Endowment exhibition — organized by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development — on Nov. 21.

Abdulaziz, who often explores issues of identity and culture through her work, spoke to Arab News about her latest project and her path toward becoming an artist.

“Unfortunately, when I finished high school, I couldn’t get the chance to study art since there were no art colleges in the UAE. I decided to get a degree in mathematics because it is an interesting subject to me, as I believe art and maths are connected with each other,” the artist, whose work was exhibited as part of the UAE Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, said.

Abdulaziz, who often explores issues of identity and culture through her work, spoke to Arab News about her latest project and her path toward becoming an artist. Supplied

In 1999, she kicked off a career in the arts and hasn’t looked back since. The artist works in a variety of mediums, including installations, performance pieces and works on paper, all of which explore “human nature, culture, religion… and the workings of the human brain,” according to the artist.

“There is a connection between art and maths,” she added, explaining the link between her two passions. “I merged the two parts of my brain to get ideas and (build on this) mixture between art and maths.”

 The Al-Burda Endowment exhibition will showcase the work of 10 selected artists awarded the grant in 2018 and Abdulaziz is particularly excited about her new piece.

The artist works in a variety of mediums, including installations, performance pieces and works on paper. Supplied

“My piece for Al-Burda is a dream come true. I had this idea of making a huge installation work that involves maths, geometry and Islamic patterns. The idea… started from just a sketch… to a big acrylic painting on canvas and now it has become a 3-D work.”

The optical illusion-style work is almost trippy to look at due to its accordion-style surface and multitude of bright, block-printed colors and that boldness is also visible in her advice to budding Emirati artists.

“My advice to them is to go for it, think big, go crazy with your art. It is who you are, it is your way to express yourself,” she said.