You are here

Walt Disney results lifted by 'Star Wars,' 'Frozen'

rk_waltdisney_050220.jpg
Walt Disney on Tuesday delivered better-than-expected results in the past quarter, fueled by box office hits from its latest Star Wars and Frozen films and a strong consumer response to its new Disney+ streaming service

[SAN FRANCISCO] Walt Disney on Tuesday delivered better-than-expected results in the past quarter, fueled by box office hits from its latest Star Wars and Frozen films and a strong consumer response to its new Disney+ streaming service

Profits in the three months to December 28 dipped 24 per cent from a year ago to US$2.1 billion while revenues surged 36 per cent to US$21 billion.

"We had a strong first quarter, highlighted by the launch of Disney+, which has exceeded even our greatest expectations," said chairman and chief executive Robert Iger.

In an interview, he said it was too soon know the impact of the new coronavirus that originated in China and has spread around the world.

"The big issue on everybody's mind is what's going on with this virus and how far will it go in terms of its impact on people," he told CNBC television.

He said he has seen only a small impact in terms of bookings and travel to Disney resorts.

"It depends on how far this crisis goes and how long it lasts," he added.

The earnings report showed Disney+ was signed by 26.5 million subscribers since launching in several markets in November, and Mr Iger told analysts that figure had now reached 28.6 million.

Disney, which is the leading force in Hollywood and operates major theme parks and television operations, has been betting heavily on its move to streaming as it takes on rivals such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

The company saw big gains in its studio entertainment segment, where revenues surged to US$3.8 billion in the fiscal first quarter from US$1.8 billion a year earlier.

Disney had some of the biggest cinema releases of the year and the past quarter's results were boosted by Frozen II and Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker.

Its "direct to consumer" segment which includes Disney+ saw revenues jump to US$4.0 billion from US$900 million. That unit showed an increased operating loss of US$693 million, in part due to the costs of launching the streaming service.

Shares in Disney traded in a narrow range after the results, alternating between modest gains and losses.

AFP