DISNEY’S MONOPOLY

VERA TOLARI 11th

Sony has dared to challenge Disney, a mighty and fearful shadow over all media.”

It has become beyond a doubt that The Walt Disney Corporation has grown to be the biggest media franchise in the world. Its subsidiaries include but are not limited to Pixar, Hulu, ESPN, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox, ABC, and Disney Parks, Cruises, Channel, Radio, etc. They own the five top-grossing films ever and based on Disney’s revenue and profits from the last three years, its net worth is nearly $130 billion. Just the announcement of its new streaming service, Disney+, scheduled for release on Nov. 12 this year, prompted Disney stock to soar over 10% in a day. The youngest Millennials (those in their late teens and early 20s) watch 50 percent less cable television than people that age did in 2010. Disney is adapting, and it does not mean to stop growing. According to data from MoffettNathanson, a media research company, the company owns around 40% of the US movie business and 40% of the US TV business.

Consumers are afraid that too much control of any industry confers monopoly power that restricts choices, raises prices, and hurts workers. Hollywood studios should be afraid to compete with a corporate Goliath that could earn half of all domestic box-office revenue in a good year. Less than 24 hours after Sony’s announcement that the latest standalone Spider-Man film, “Far From Home,” a collaboration with Disney, had become the highest-grossing film in the studio’s 90-year history, news broke that the collaboration was over. While Sony faced online criticism from Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans, the failure to complete a deal is not their fault – and is good for the film industry in the long run.

Sony has dared to challenge Disney, a mighty and fearful shadow over all media. This is something that does not happen often anymore in fact, the US government hasn’t called Disney out for its monopolization of the industry. The company has been employing former government employees and utilizing the lobbying services of legal firms.  They strategically lobby members of Congress, as well as state legislatures in California, Florida, and New York to prevent any problems in their mergers with other companies. This allows them to use their financial clout to prevent any anti-trust lawsuits from being filed or going through and ensuring there are no objections to their absorption of so much of a single field.

As a direct result of Disney lobbying, in 1998 Congress overhauled the copyright system to retroactively extend everything created between 1923 and 1977 to a 95-year term. That meant Mickey Mouse is safe at Disney until 2023, while Spider-Man won’t become public domain until 2057. If it were, both Disney and Sony could produce Spider-Man movies at the same time, separately. The aggressiveness toward Sony extends to baseless denial toward the possibility of a completely Sony-produced Spider-Man movie being successful. The latest Sony Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, was extremely well received, with a total worldwide box office gross of $375.5 million against a production budget of $90 million. Into the Spider-Verse,  won Best Animated Feature Film at the 76th Golden Globe Awards, it won the same award at the 24th Critics’ Choice Awards, and won the Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards, among several other awards and nominations. Sony has demonstrated the potential to do great things with the fan-favorite franchise while countering the monopoly that Disney has installed, offering an unforeseen opportunity for growth of the series.

“I believe in being an innovator,” Walt Disney once said. If Disney continues on its course of robbing all authenticity and diversity from TV, film, and streaming, there will be no more innovation in media. It is up to the people now if they wish to support this regime.

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