The Wall Street Journal featured an article (subscription required) a few weeks back on Disney’s new and improved approach to going global. The days of slapping subtitles on US films and shipping them overseas are coming to an end. Instead, Disney is creating locally and listening to the experts who really know the market.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Disney’s traditional approach was largely to force-feed its U.S. products from its Burbank, Calif., headquarters. The company ultimately concluded the cookie-cutter approach wouldn’t work, and now it is going country by country, with a particular focus on five hot markets: India, China, Russia, Latin America and South Korea. “We’re building Disney from scratch,” in countries such as India, said Mr. Iger, citing the company’s founder and namesake: Just “as Walt did in the U.S. over 50 years ago.”
And creating movies for a country such as India, with so many official languages, is no simple task. From the article:
India’s multitude of languages, dialects and religions makes Disney’s strategy akin to “three dimensional chess,” says Mr. Bird. Mr. P.S., Disney’s local movie executive, says the company plans to release its first animated film in at least three languages: Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Later on, Disney may make live-action movies specifically for the country’s south, which has different tastes in movies and has emerged as an important market. Ultimately, executives say Disney’s Indian production could reach eight movies a year. Mr. P.S. says the aim is to have Indian audiences saying within a decade: “Let’s go see a Disney movie.”
I’m happy to see Disney trying to better understand the world, one country at a time. Of course, even when you do understand a country, that’s no guarantee of success in show biz.
But it’s a good start.
PS: Somebody just asked how Disney did in the 2007 Web Globalization Report Card. Disney.com finished 186 out of the 200 Web sites reviewed, so there is clearly room for improvement.