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In October 2005 the Walt Disney Company made its most significant change in two decades. Michael Eisner’s twenty-one-year tenure as the head of the studio came to an end and Bob Iger, then the president of the company, succeeded as the chairman.
Within the first year of his promotion, Disney had acquired Pixar Animation, the studio responsible for the successful Toy Story franchise, and soon this was followed by Marvel Entertainment. More recently, the company purchased Lucasfilm and along with it several key acquisitions, most notably the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series.
Their latest release, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has made over $1b worldwide in less than two weeks, with $627.4m in North America alone. The company’s ever-expanding Avengers universe has brought tremendous revenue, earning in total almost $8b worldwide, while 2012’s The Avengers currently remains the fourth highest-grossing motion picture of all time with over $1.5b in box office receipts.
Yet while most of their live action pictures are often FX-driven, employing state-of-the-art digital effects to all manner of cinematic illusions, Iger insists that storytelling remains Disney’s main concern. ‘Great stories still hold their value,’ he states in a recent interview with Bloomberg. ‘It’s still important to invent fresh stories; either fresh stories for older franchises or existing franchises, or just fresh stories that are not tied to anything that exists today.’
He continues, ‘There’s nothing better than a great ‘original’ story, and we’ll continue to do that. It’s riskier than deriving stories from the known than the unknown, but it’s important for us to continue to do and it’s important for the creative people that work for us to continue to do.’
Iger, who will step down from his position as Chairman in 2018, then added, ‘It starts with great storytelling.’