The Disney Beat

DISNEY NEWS: Monday, March 8th

March 08, 2021 Sean Nyberg Season 1 Episode 31
The Disney Beat
DISNEY NEWS: Monday, March 8th
Show Notes Transcript

Bringing you all of the news from the Disney company that you need to know to start your week for Monday March 8th, 2021:

  • Disneyland could reopen on April 1st, no joke!
  • Disney CEO Bob Chapek speaks about parks and theatrical movie releases
  • One fifth of Disney's brick and mortar retail stores in the US  will be closing
  • E-commerce site, ShopDisney, to get a well needed revamp
  • ABC's 'World News Tonight with David Muir' dominates ratings
  • Matt Damon, Luke Hemsworth, Sam Neil, and Melissa McCarthy coming to a huge Marvel film
  • Disney+ series Obie-Wan Kenobi gets a new actress
  • Pinocchio remake casts Cynthia Erivo, Joseph Gorden-Levitt, and Keegan Michael Key
  • Turner and Hooch star will revive his role in the upcoming Disney+ serioes
  • X-Men coming to Marvel's Cinematic Universe earlier than expected
  • Blade reboot to begin production
  • And much more...

 Follow your host Sean Nyberg on his Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram at @SeanNyberg

Don't forget to follow our The DisInsider Facebook page, or find us on Twitterand Instagram at @theDisInsider and of course, for all the breaking news, at 

Hello there, this is Sean Nyberg and this podcast is being recorded on the evening of Sunday, March 7th, 2021. Alright, let’s dive into the news.

Let’s start with some parks news, and man, did we get some huge news this week. Friday afternoon ended with a bang as news broke that the state of California was revising their covid-19 guidelines and would allow Disneyland to reopen as early as April 1st. While the date caught the attention of lock-down weary Disney fans as a possible, and extremely cruel, April fools Day joke, the news was actually true and confirmed by multiple national news outlets. The revised guidelines would allow Disneyland to begin reopening once Orange County enters into the red Tier 2 status, previously the guidelines required the county to enter the extremely high-bar of yellow Tier 4 status. A level that would’ve certainly kept the parks closed through most of this year.

The new guidelines are a welcome sign for Disneyland fans and employees, as the Anaheim Resort will have been closed for an entire year by mid March. Since its opening in 1955 the park had only been closed a handful of times, once due to an earthquake, another following 9/11, and another after President Kennedy’s assassination, the resort had never shut down for more than one day prior to Covid-19.

Orange County is expected to reach Tier 2 status within a week, if the case count, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to fall at the rate they have been for the past month. As vaccination rates continue to increase, experts agree that the improving trend will only continue, and possibly pick up steam as the result of vaccines in a community provides exponential benefits, with people not only being protected against infection, but also the ease of virus spread is being reduced. With larger numbers protected and a continual slow down of spread, the numbers will continue to improve quickly. 

So, does this mean Disneyland can just fling open the gates like Elsa in Frozen? Not exactly, once Orange County reaches tier 2, the parks can reopen at 15% capacity. There is a long list of other restrictions and you can find them at TheDisInsider, but the general gist is that the reopening will be a slow process with capacity limitations, early restrictions allowing only California residence visit, indoor attractions having capacity limits, and social distancing and face masks required.
 As Orange County improves and moves into tier 3, the capacity will be increased, and so on.
 While the slow reopening might frustrate fans, it is likely welcomed by Disney. The last thing the company needs is a Covid-19 outbreak tied back to one of their parks. The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida have instituted self-imposed capacity limits and strict guidelines, even though the state of Florida has lifted all of their restrictions awhile back.

Beyond the fears of a negative public health story affecting the parks stellar reputation, there is little doubt that the massive infrastructure that runs the Disneyland Resort will need to be revved back up slowly, with cast members rehired and retrained with new safety protocols. While much of the park has been maintained by a small group of workers during the shutdown, the reopening of the park, with even the lowest capacity limits, will be a huge undertaking.

We will be monitoring this story every week here on The Disney Beat podcast and we will be covering any updates as they happen over at The

Earlier in the week, we got word from Disney CEO Bob Chapek regarding the closed theme park, which is a rare occurrence. Chapek is notoriously quiet compared to his predecessors Bob Iger and Michael Eisner. Iger is a darling of the entertainment industry and the media loved him, in his reduced role as Executive Chairman, he is still more likely to sit for interviews than Chapek. Eisner was ubiquitous in print media throughout the 80s and 90s, especially in the gossip columns, and even cast himself as the host of Disney’s Sunday television show, a move that mirrored the public persona that Walt Disney inhabited himself in the 1950s and early 60s. But Chapek has always stayed out of the spotlight, so any appearance he makes draws a lot of attention.

Earlier this week, in a talk with Morgan Stanley, Chapek made a number of comments that caught the attention of investors and reporters. While no major announcements were made, two stories came out of his talk. The first, was a hint that Disney would be making changes in their theatrical releases, namely, the time between releasing them in theaters and their availability to stream at home. Chapek said that consumers expect movies to be available to them quicker, especially over the last year. This will likely change future agreements between the studio and the theater chains.

The second story involved the closed Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. After a contentious Fall, where Disney engaged in a very public spat with California Governor Gavin Newsom, Chapek had a more positive outlook on the closure, stating that the downtime has allowed them to take a serious look at the customer experience in the parks and implement a number of changes that they’ve been planning for awhile. As I said earlier, Disneyland has never been closed for more than one day in over 65 years, so there is never a good time to make big changes within the park. It appears the company has taken the forced downtime to make some needed improvements.

Aside from the theme parks and the possible adjustments to upcoming theatrical release windows, another big announcement this week, which was a result of the covid-19 pandemic, was the news that Disney will be closing 20% of their US, brick and mortar, Disney stores. While the move was always planned, the pandemic fast tracked the decision as consumers have moved quickly to e-commerce over the last year. One study estimates that the pandemic has sped up the shift to online shopping by five years, meaning, company’s need to be jumping ahead to the end of the five year plans, or be left behind. 

Disney also plans to improve their ShopDisney online store. A move that all Disney fans can get behind. The store has been a dark spot for Disney with a clunky user interface, a tendency to crash during big releases, and a search engine that leaves a lot to be desired.

The Products division also announced that they will start shifting some of their focus more toward adult themed apparel, streetwear, and high-end home goods and collectibles, and away from the near central focus on children’s clothing and toys. Providing a mix of products for all ages.

We starting to get a sense of the winners and losers from this years February sweeps. The period where TV ratings are calculated and used to determine advertising rates, cancelation and retention decisions, and overall bragging rights. One of the biggest winners was the Disney owned ABC ‘World News Tonight with David Muir.’ The evening newscast dominated the ratings in the three major groups, total viewers, adult viewers 25-54, and adult viewers 18-49. World News Tonight beat NBC’s Nightly News, and CBS Evening News, it also posted higher ratings than Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC combined, topping over 9.66 million viewers.  

As always, this week saw a number of new cast and crew announcements for upcoming Disney projects, including… 

  • Jessica Alexander, from the Netflix series Get Even, has joined the all-star cast of the highly anticipated Disney live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, it is unclear which character she will play. 
  • Indira Varma, who played Ellaria Sand in Game of Thrones, has signed to appear in the upcoming Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi. The exact role that Varma will be plays being kept purposefully secret for now. 
  • Matt Damon, Luke Hemsworth, and Sam Neill will return to play Fake Loki, Fake Thor, and Fake Odin for the upcoming Disney Marvel Studios film Thor: Love and Thunder. The three actors played these characters in the last Thor film, Thor: Ragnarok. Joining them is actress Melissa McCarthy, who will be making her Marvel debut as Fake Hela. This marks the second upcoming major Disney film that will start McCarthy, as she will be portraying everyone’s favorite Disney villain, Ursula the SeaWitch, in the live action Little Mermaid. The upcoming Love and Thunder is once again being helmed by Ragnarok Director Taiki Waititi and is set to be released next year.  
  • Three big names were added to the upcoming Pinocchio remake, Cynthia Erivo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Keegan-Michael Key will be joining the project. Erivo has been cast as the Blue Fairy, Gordon-Levitt will portray Jiminy Cricket, and Key will play Honest John. The Disney+ film will be directed by Robert Zemeckis and will star Tom Hanks as Geppetto. 
  • This week we learned that Reginald VelJohnson will reprise his role as David Sutton in the upcoming Disney+ series Turner and Hooch. The series will act as a sequel to the 1989 hit film, there is no release date announced yet.

With Disney+’s She-Hulk gearing up to film soon, news on the project has been relatively slow. However, we are learning that casting is underway for an unknown character with shapeshifting abilities. No official word on who this character is, but there is some reporting that indicates it could be a Skrull agent. The series is expected to be released next year on Disney+.

Previously we reported that the long awaited Marvel Studios’ Blade reboot had found a writer, we can now confirm that the project is set to begin production this September and be wrapped by December. Mahershala Ali will star was the titular character previously portrayed by Wesley Snipes. There is no release date announced for this project, but will likely come out later in 2022 and be part of Marvel Studios phase four. 

It appears that the XMen will making their debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe sooner than anticipated. It was leaked this week that there is indeed an Xmen film coming and it is called The Mutants. We knew that a film was in the works for The Fantastic Four, but this is the first we have heard of this new project. No further details have been released, but we will be watching this story closely over at The DisInsider.

 Speaking of, I want to you remind you to please visit to see a number of features that were not discussed in this episode, including the ongoing series 20 Weeks of Disney Animation from our fabulous writer Josh Sharpe who concluded this massive project this last week as he tackled Zootopia, Moana, Ralph Breaks the Internet, and Frozen 2. So go check all of that out at

As many of you know, last week I released the 2 1/2 hour interview I conducted with Jack Kendall from DSNY Newscast right here on The Disney Beat podcast. I broke it down into three parts, the first covered the Disney Theme Parks, part two covered Disney+, upcoming Disney films, and the Walt Disney Company as a business, and the third took a look at the world of Disney news coverage and what it is like being a popular Disney Youtuber. All three parts are available to stream right now, you should definitely check them out if you haven’t yet. I want to once again thank Jack and remind you to go subscribe to his YouTube channel, DSNY Newscast.

On behalf of myself and those of us here at the Disney Beat, along with the DisInsider, we wish everyone good health and prosperity.

With that, I want to say THANK YOU for listening. If you liked the show please rate and review it wherever you listen. These ratings really help the show find new listeners and we hope we have earned a 5 star review. 

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You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @SeanNyberg all one word.

I also cohost the Disney podcast Walts Apartment, that comes out every Thursday and the Disney Parks themed podcast Extra Magic Hour which is released every other Friday. So check those out.

Thank you again for listening and I will see you here again next week for another edition of The Disney Beat podcast, my name is Sean Nyberg. Have a fantastic week!