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by Brandon Butler
Disney CEO on Hamilton, Reopening Parks 7/9/2020

Julia Alexander at The Verge got ahold of an audio recording of an all-hands meeting by Disney CEO Bob Chapek, where he spoke on the importance of Hamilton coming to Disney+ and the reopening of Disney Parks in the US.

Chapek didn’t give out numbers on how many new Disney Plus subscribers the movie brought in, but told employees that “there were a lot of them.” More importantly, Chapek — who was joined by Disney’s new head of streaming, Rebecca Campbell — noted that Hamilton was able to accomplish a much bigger task: bring in people who might not have been interested in Disney Plus before.

“That particular audience was very important for Disney Plus because it represented a tangent of an audience that we don’t necessarily get that often on Disney Plus,” Chapek said. “A great percentage of the new viewers that came into Disney Plus, and there were a lot of them, were a different target audience, a different demographic than what we normally get. That was nice to see.”

Chapek also touched on the reopening of Disney Parks:

Chapek told employees they “can’t afford not to have our cast working for 18 months.” He added that the company has “developed plans to open responsibly.” Chapek also reportedly brought up the idea that Disney Parks are among the safest places to be, outside of employees’ own homes. He said the “issue is not going to be demand for our parks,” but figuring out what the company feels comfortable with doing “given the six-foot social distancing guideline.”

I can’t imagine where Chapek is getting the idea that being at Disneyland, surrounded by thousands of strangers, could in any way be considered a “safe place” during a pandemic. I realize he needs to spin it for Cast Members and the public to feel safe to return, but saying Disneyland is nearly as safe as staying home is pretty insulting. Let’s be honest: “Yes, there’s a pandemic and yes, we are bleeding money, but we’re reopening with the absolute highest standards of safety, and if any employees or cast members feel we’re doing something unsafe, or have any concerns, they should immediately address HR — and I personally guarantee they will be listened to and in no way retaliated against,” is what Chapek should have said.