What’s happening: After retaking the job as CEO late last year, Bob Iger has been able to get Disney back into the good graces of China, to an extent, with the studio’s recent films Avatar: The Way of Water, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania all being allowed release in the country. This came after almost four years of certain Disney films, particularly from the Marvel Studios division, being denied entry.
What’s different? Short-lived CEO Bob Chapek did not have a great relationship with the communist country. During Chapek’s tenure, the company struggled to work with the Chinese and released films with content (such as LGBT relationships) deemed unsuitable for release by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Iger has been warm with the CCP, voicing his desire for a Chinese diplomatic post in the Biden administration and spearheading the development of Disney theme parks opened in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
What happens next? China’s control over Hollywood is tangible. The communist country controls what celebrities can or cannot say and what content can or cannot be included in movies and entertainment. The trend will likely continue as Disney shows no signs of backing away, instead spearheading it.
Why it matters: On one hand, China’s film market is officially larger than North America’s as of 2020 and would bring in more revenue for Disney. On the other, the warming relationship would put America’s largest entertainment company in the hands of America’s largest rival, who already has sizable control over the industry.