Yesterday, Disney made the surprise announcement that they are laying off 28,000 people due to the ongoing economic difficulties of the pandemic. Even with the theme parks open, with restrictions, of course, they are eating sh-t and continue to hemorrhage cash. These layoffs are just the latest round of corporate America punishing vulnerable wage workers because of the government’s complete failure to—oh. The other thing? You wanted to talk about Disney’s other big announcement yesterday? Sure, we can do that. In other news, Barry Jenkins is making a Lion King sequel!
I’m sure these two headlines are completely unrelated and there was not a plan at all to try and distract everyone from the devastating “we’re sh-t canning 28,000 people” headline with a “hey we hired Barry Jenkins!” headline. I’m sure the goal was not to change the tone on social media and not be the “main character” on Twitter.
This is what I think Barry Jenkins' Lion King is going to look like. pic.twitter.com/fBiO6LrnPu— The King of Burbank (@akingofburbank) September 29, 2020
Look, I love to see Barry Jenkins getting f-ck you money and getting to play with cutting edge film technology, and I am glad he gets to imagine a new story for The Lion King and not helm a cookie cutter shot-for-shot remake. And I get that this is good business for Disney, as the live-action Lion King made $1.6 billion and it spawned Black Is King, which was a major moment for Disney+ over the summer. I understand a lot of people are excited for this, and I don’t want to take anything away from that legitimate anticipation. Here is Lulu Wang, Jenkins’ partner, celebrating his big news in the cutest way possible:
But it’s a big case of coincidence or conspiracy, that the day Disney announces mass layoffs, they also announce a new movie project guaranteed to get people talking. And it worked!
Lion King 19's Circle of Life but with Nicholas Brittell's Beale Street score. pic.twitter.com/Wy1l8shMZh— Rendy Jones (@rendy_jones) September 29, 2020
Even when they’re flailing through the worst year they’ve had in recent memory, Disney remains masters of media manipulation and publicity. Just watch, if their next earnings call in November is a bunch of bad news, they’ll drop WandaVision the next day so that no one remembers how much money they’ve lost.