Powerhouse Executives, A-List Talent and Champion Athletes Unveil the Next Evolution of Storytelling Excellence and Innovation At Disney’s Upfront
NEW YORK - Wednesday, May 18 – The Walt Disney Company completely reimagined its annual Upfront experience, setting the stage for the Company’s next 100 years, bringing out the biggest names across the entertainment empire. After two years of virtual presentations, the Company held its first in-person Upfront at Basketball City at Pier 36 in New York City on Tuesday, May 17. The event honored the Company’s heritage in storytelling, innovation and its creative prowess.
Disney’s Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek took the stage to celebrate the Company’s legacy of excellence and expand on his vision for the next century. In addition to Chapek, the event featured Kareem Daniel, chairman, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, Rita Ferro, president, Disney Advertising, Peter Rice, chairman, Disney General Entertainment, Sean Bailey, president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, and Kevin Feige, President, Marvel Studios and Chief Creative Officer, Marvel.
Talent appearances represented nearly every brand in the portfolio to illustrate the power of Disney. Appearances included Ryan Seacrest, Kerry Washington; Emayatzy Corinealdi; Claire Danes; Ellen Pompeo; Kumail Nanjiani; Kris Jenner; Khloé Kardashian; Amy Schumer; David Muir; Joe Buck; Troy Aikman; Holly Rowe; Desmond Howard; Tim Tebow; Aliyah Boston; Brea Beal; Zia Cooke; Dawn Staley; Suni Lee; Matthew Stafford; Sean McVay; Stormtroopers; Samuel L. Jackson; Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Tatiana Maslany.
The cast of Only Murders in the Building quipped back and forth on stage. Abbott Elementary stars appeared in character to ask advertisers to support their “documentary” on their underfunded school. Ellen Pompeo voiced how proud she is of the impact of Grey’s Anatomy bringing characters from underrepresented backgrounds to television screens. Even members of entertainment’s royal family, Kris Jenner and Khloe Kardashian, appeared alongside Amy Schumer to celebrate the groundbreaking success of The Kardashians.
“ManningCast” stars, Peyton and Eli Manning anchored the sports section with their trademark irreverent humor, and touted expansions of the Places franchise. Sue’s Places will hit the hardwood exploring college basketball with two-time NCAA Champion Sue Bird serving as host. P.K.’s Places will take the ice and explore the NHL with 3-Time All-Star P.K. Subban. McEnroe’s Places will serve up stories from tennis with 17-Time Grand Slam Champion John McEnroe. Additionally, Eli's Places will return for a second season and Peyton's Places will return for a third season. Dany Garci and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made a surprise appearance to celebrate the exclusive, global multi-year agreement to bring every regular-season and playoff XFL game to The Walt Disney Company.
The event officially reintroduced Disney+ to the advertising industry with never-before-seen clips. While on stage, Bailey presented a sneak peek at upcoming Disney+ films Disenchanted and Hocus Pocus 2. Feige gave brief updates on Marvel Studios’ series Loki season 2 and Echo. Feige was joined by Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) to discuss Marvel Studios’ new series Secret Invasion coming soon to the service, and Tatiana Maslany (She-Hulk) revealed the first-ever trailer for Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
Other exclusive sneak previews came from Only Murders in the Building, Reasonable Doubt, Fleishman is in Trouble, Welcome to Chippendales, 30 for 30, and the multi-part documentary on Colin Kaepernick directed by Spike Lee. The company also announced the expansion of its sports rights, with new major matchups and rivalry games across College Football, and a new nine-year agreement with Tennis Australia.
Jimmy Kimmel closed the evening with a time-honored tradition: his roast of all the major players in media, live from the set of Live! With Kelly & Ryan. “Don’t pretend you didn’t robust a nut - when you saw all the people we brought here today… This is the place to be. We have the Super Bowl… in five years. We’ve got cornhole! We have Hocus Pocus Two! And if that’s not enough - I guess you’ll never find happiness,” quipped Kimmel.
Key remarks from Disney’s leadership:
“Ten decades of creativity, innovation, and determination created The Walt Disney Company you know today—the most enduring and beloved name in entertainment,” said Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, Disney. “As we begin Disney’s second century, our goal is to yet again transform entertainment by combining extraordinary storytelling with innovative technology to create an even larger, more connected and magical Disney universe.”
“With our thousands of consumer touchpoints, we occupy a unique space... sitting at the intersection of storytelling, innovation, and data,” said Kareem Daniel, Chairman, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution. “We have a persistent and authentic relationship with audiences, millions of whom connect daily with the immersive worlds, iconic characters, and unforgettable stories created across The Walt Disney Company.”
“The heart of Disney is our Storytelling. It’s not just words on a page, they’re living breathing experiences. They take us to new heights, inspire imagination, and drive culture and affinity,” said Rita Ferro, president, Advertising, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution. “With the consumer at the center of everything we do, we bring people of all walks of life together across an incredible offering of live, events, sports, movies and shows, that they can watch anytime, anywhere.”
“We foster an environment where artists are encouraged to take risks. Nurtured by seasoned executives who’ve developed some of the most successful shows in the history of our business. And brought to life through our partnerships with the world’s top talent,” said Peter Rice, Chairman, Disney General Entertainment. “This Upfront showcases the greatest amount of premium storytelling we have ever produced. An unprecedented investment in new talent, new shows, and new ways to bring excitement, wonder, and joy to the audiences you want to reach. Because everything we do starts with a story.”