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Disney CEO On New Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Land, Streaming Service

First on CNBC: CNBC Transcript: Disney CEO Bob Iger’s Interview with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin

Star Wars: Galaxys Edge
Image source: CNBC Video screenshot

The following is the unofficial transcript of a FIRST ON CNBC interview with Disney CEO Bob Iger and CNBC’s Julia Boorstin which aired on Wednesday, May 29th ahead of the launch of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. The following is a link to video of the interview on CNBC.com:

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Disney CEO Bob Iger On New Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Land, Streaming Service

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

JULIA BOORSTIN: Bob Iger, thank you so much for joining us here today before your big opening ceremony for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge tonight. This is a huge investment for Disney: a billion dollars in this fourteen-acre land. You have another very similar one opening in Orlando later this year. What does this mean for your parks division?

BOB IGER: Well Star Wars is an immensely popular property. And giving people who visit our parks or who have thought about visiting our parks a chance to immerse themselves in Star Wars on a grand scale and in a much richer deeper way is a big deal and I think it will be extremely positive for the division, for the company. And for Star Wars, too. I think it'll lift the entire franchise of Star Wars.

JULIA BOORSTIN: So, what does this mean for your Star Wars investment for Disney plus streaming service? Because one key part of Disney Plus is you have this live-action Star Wars series called the Mandalorian. How are you going to use all of this and people's exposure to Star Wars here to drive people to Disney plus? So, you'd be giving away free trial services to everyone who comes to the parks?

BOB IGER: Well, first of all, we don't think of Star Wars as any one thing. It's Star Wars. It's Star Wars in our parks. It's Star Wars in books and toys and children's clothing and Star Wars in movies, and now it’s Star Wars in television. And so, there are elements of kind of all of those things in many ways that are here. People have not seen the Mandalorian yet but when they do they will quickly discover, if they have been here, that there are things in this park that are from the Mandalorian. And nor have they seen the next Star Wars movie and that's here, too. And so, everything is kind of, you know, interwoven very carefully by us to manage the franchise Star Wars in a much more holistic way.

JULIA BOORSTIN: But do you see this as a marketing vehicle for the streaming service? And the show and the streaming service as a marketing vehicle for this?

BOB IGER: Not as, I think, specifically or as blatantly. Of course, yes, I think interest in Star Wars will be heightened because of this and that will heighten interest in Star Wars on a variety of other forms including on Disney Plus and vice-versa. Yeah.

JULIA BOORSTIN: You mentioned the movies studio and of course you have another big Star Wars movie coming out later this year but your last Star Wars film which was a spin-off, “Solo,” failed to live up to expectations and a lot of people said that was because of Star Wars fatigue. How do you avoid having this contribute to Star Wars fatigue?

BOB IGER: I have to take some exception to that. I don't know what the expectations were for that film we when we bought Lucasfilm in 2012 we talked about making three we called saga films: Star Wars Seven, Eight and Nine, starting with a JJ Abrams’ first film initially and finishing with this next film, which would come out this December. And then we said we try some standalone films. They had never been done before. The six films that George made were all part of that same than a legacy story, the Skywalker -- the Skywalker story and these were new. And we did one Rogue One which did quite well and then we tried Solo which was more kind of a character piece. And you know, who we have liked it to have done better? Sure. But I actually think it was a well-made film. And we decided after we do the Ninth one which comes at the end of the year, we're going to take a breather as we reset. And there will be new ones coming out starting in 2022. In the interim, we have a lot of television activity, including the Mandalorian.

JULIA BOORSTIN: So, with so much TV activity, with the films coming up and now all of this, do you ever worry about having too much riding on Star Wars? I mean this is the most exposure Star Wars will ever have had.

BOB IGER: I don't, because if you look at the profile of the company and the collection of assets and look: we're still living or basking in the glory of Avengers Endgame, a Marvel property, the great Marvel films coming out. This summer, just in a few weeks, we have Toy Story coming out and then Lion King. There's just so much going on that and the company that people are interested in. Yes, we have a lot riding on Star Wars. But you know we have a diversity of characters and franchises and stories. I don't think we're reliant too heavily on any one of them. We just like them all.

JULIA BOORSTIN: So back to the parks business. You recently raised prices at California parks. You raised prices earlier at parks in Orlando. Have you seen any resistance to the higher pricing and can you give us any insight into what kind of bookings we'll see in the key summer season?

BOB IGER: Well, almost all of our pricing now has gotten much more strategic and it's designed to spread demand. You know, we benefit greatly because of the popularity of not only the parks experience but all these stories and all these franchises that we have. And that demand is very, very high for these properties. And in peak times you know we can get overly crowded and we have to turn a lot of people away. What we're trying to do is make the off-peak times more affordable and raise the price on the peak times, in part to manage basically, you know, manage traffic flow and try to protect the guest experience. So, there are some things that are more expensive perhaps than the way they were before but there's still a lot of accessibility. There are a lot of different ways to see our parks today that weren't available before. Not that long ago, it was a one-size-fits-all, one price fits all no matter what day of the week, no matter what time of the year. That wasn't necessarily optimal for us, nor was it optimal for our guests.

JULIA BOORSTIN: Now, when you look at the booking for the parks here. the reaction to this, advance bookings for both here in in Anaheim, and also in Orlando, and also how much money people are spending here—do you have a sense of how the American consumer is doing and whether there are any signs of recession, based on that spending?

BOB IGER: Well, if you just look at the economy and you look at the American consumer through the lens of our parks division you'd say everything is just great. And that's a division that is doing extremely well, continuing to deliver not only a better guest experience but growth of the bottom line, growth in terms of revenue. There's a lot of demand right now for these products because they are they've just gotten so good and they're so well managed I'm extremely proud of the team that runs it.