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Monday, October 2, 2023

Disney leans toward spectacle in extensive upfront hype


In a pre-week marked by smaller events and a lack of star power, Disney threw it all (short of any cast members) in a big pre-show Tuesday afternoon.

It included dozens of stunt performers dressed as samurai fighting in the aisles. But we’ll come back to that.

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In a massive hall at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, on a gigantic stage that took some talent a full minute to walk through, Disney touted every one of its brands, from ESPN and ABC to FX and Disney+, to Marvel and Lucasfilm.

While there may not be any actors, the company has included every star it can get, from Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning, Hannah Storm and (their soon-to-be colleagues) From ESPN talent like Tate McAfee, to ABC News anchors David Muir, George Stephanopoulos and Michael Strahan (who appeared 24 hours later) early days of fox).

Serena Williams was there to announce a new ESPN Documentary SeriesNBA star Donavan Mitchell was there to talk about his next career move, while LSU’s Angel Reese and WNBA star Breanna Stewart touted women’s sports.

In a full circle moment, Buffalo Bills safety Dama Hamlin was onstage with Aikman and Buck five months after his crash halted monday night football on its track.

new year rock night Host Ryan Seacrest presents the scripted entertainment segment, while bachelorette Jesse Palmer introduced reality TV, including Kim and Khloe Kardashian showing up to announce new episodes of their Hulu series.

While sports, news, and impromptu programming did take up the lion’s share of the demo, Disney’s MCU and star warsKevin Feige previews upcoming Disney+ Marvel series, while Kathleen Kennedy preps upcoming Lucasfilm fare.

As trailers and sizzle reels played, security patrolled the aisles to make sure attendees weren’t taking photos or videos of prized IP.

It all culminates with The Samurai Show, designed to promote the upcoming FX series the general.

“The samurai are going to an after party, so good luck going to the bar,” Rita Ferro, Disney’s head of ad sales, told the crowd afterwards.

The ad business is “on the threshold of a massive transformation,” and Disney+’s ad layer “has been delivering healthy growth in subscribers and advertisers,” Ferro said.

There was no direct mention of the Writers Guild strike, or the modest picket line that assembled on 11th Avenue, though Ferro hinted at larger problems facing the industry.

“As we all know, preparing for this presentation is one of my favorite times of the year, even in a year full of daunting challenges,” Ferro said. “As the past few years have taught us, no matter how tough, you have to be ready for every moment, and Disney is ready for every challenge.”

So even in a year without any script talent, Disney managed to wow audiences with Marvel sneak peeks and household names.

While Disney execs were present, from Feige, Kennedy and Ferro to Dana Walden, Jimmy Pitaro, Alan Bergman and FX executive John Landgraf, there was one absent: Hollywood politician and Disney CEO Bob Iger, who was playing the The character is in France, meeting French President Emmanuel Macron at the Versailles summit.

Meanwhile, at the Javits Center, attendees sipped drinks at a bar topped with Disney ice sculptures as the sun set over the Hudson.

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