In a February memo to his staff, Chapek doubled down on his stance, describing the metaverse as, “the next great storytelling frontier and the perfect place to pursue our strategic pillars of storytelling excellence, innovation, and audience focus. Teams across the company are exploring this new canvas, and I have been blown away by what I’ve seen.”
What steps is Disney taking to realize their metaverse goals? In February, Chapek appointed veteran executive Mike White to the new role of senior VP of next-generation storytelling and consumer experiences at the Walt Disney Co. According to the memo announcing the appointment, it was explained that White is responsible for organizing the company’s initiatives that blend “physical and digital worlds.”
In April, the L.A.Times reported that White had been meeting with leaders across all of Disney’s businesses to lay the foundation for the company’s future metaverse strategy. At the time, it was reported that White was meeting with executives from Parks and Imagineering, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Industrial Light & Magic to create a task force that would brainstorm the best ways to approach the emerging technology.
How will this impact consumers? It’s too soon to say for sure, but early indications do not seem to imply an entirely digital William Gibson-style cyberspace where fans can pop on a headset and live in their favorite Disney films. From everything that has been shared publicly so far, it’s clear that White – a former Parks Experiences and Products exec – and other Disney executives are developing ways to connect physical spaces like their theme parks to digital components such as Disney+, and other virtual environments that may emerge in the future. Another possible avenue: immersive virtual environment at its theme parks, for which Disney recently filed a technology patent.
Talking with CNBC in February, Chapek explained that Disney’s metaverse plans will “take all the great things that we as a media company have with Disney+ and use that as a platform for the metaverse, but at the same time we have something that no one else has and that’s the physical world, a world of our parks. And so, if the metaverse is to blend the physical and the digital in one environment, who can do it better than Disney?”
Pictured at top: ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’