Disney no longer wants to use the "M word"
Disney+ is set to become an "experiential lifestyle" platform, according to Disney CEO Bob Chapek. Will you soon be able to visit rides like The Haunted Mansion at home in virtual reality?
Disney wants to use its streaming service to offer more digital experiences in the future. Virtual reality and augmented reality are expected to become important building blocks. However, Disney seems to have moved away from the term "metaverse". In an interview with the U.S. film magazine Deadline, Disney CEO Bob Chapek talks about the plans of the group.
Metaverse: Disney renounces the "M word"
At the end of last year, Bob Chapek already commented on prospects for Disney+: "Suffice it to say, our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling without boundaries in our own Disney metaverse."
Now a rethink seems to have taken place, at least as far as the wording is concerned.
When asked if the Metaverse was Disney's future, Chapek explained with a grin that Disney was leaning toward not using the "M word" anymore. "We tend not to use the M word too often, because it has a lot of hair on it," Chapek says.
Instead, the company is talking specifically about "Next Generation Storytelling".
The vision, however, remains the same. Chapek explains that in the future, Disney+ will no longer be just a platform for movies and series, but also a platform for "experiential lifestyle".
"A platform for the whole company to embody both the physical things that you might be able to experience in a theme park, but also the digital experiences that you can get through media," Chapek says.
Experiencing instead of just watching
Disney recently released "Remembering," the first augmented reality film for Disney+. The short film, starring Brie Larson (Captain Marvel), transports viewers to a magical fantasy world. With a companion app, the film can be experienced with additional AR effects via smartphone.
In addition to AR films, VR attractions could also find their way onto the platform in the future. According to Chapek, it would be conceivable, for example, to implement the Haunted Mansion, which is familiar from theme parks, in virtual reality.
"In order to reach the 90% of people that will never ever be able to get to a Disney park, we have before us an opportunity to turn what was a movie-service platform to an experiential platform and give them the ability to ride Haunted Mansion from a virtual standpoint," Chapek said.
Nex-Gen storytelling with VR, AR, and AI
In the short term, VR headsets like the Meta Quest 2 will be used for this purpose. Disney and Meta have collaborated on several occasions, including Star Wars VR experiences for Meta's VR headsets. At Disney World, Florida, the two companies opened a Star Wars VR attraction this year.
In the long term, Disney wants to merge digital and real-world experiences through its AI systems. Those who visit a Disney park could receive recommendations at home on Disney+ based on their on-site experience.
"We know everything that you do in the park. And if you give us the permission and ability through the membership app, we’ll program your Disney+ experience, not according to what you watched last or what other people who watch this show, but to what you did, what you experienced," Chapek said.