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Meet Kareem Daniel, the head of Disney’s new distribution unit


Disney has an extended historical past of turning hourly staff into firm executives. Kareem Daniel’s rise from intern to head of the firm’s latest distribution division isn’t any exception.

On Monday, Disney introduced that it might be restructuring its media and leisure divisions in an effort to streamline its direct-to-consumer technique, which can now focus much more closely on its streaming providers.

As half of the reorganization, CEO Bob Chapek tapped Daniel, the former president of shopper merchandise, video games and publishing, as the head of the firm’s new media and leisure distribution group.

Daniel isn’t any stranger to working with Chapek. After all, the present CEO of Disney employed Daniel as an intern when Daniel was engaged on getting his MBA at Stanford. The pair additionally labored collectively when Chapek was the head of the parks, experiences and shopper merchandise division and Daniel was heading up the Imagineering program.

Chapek has surrounded himself with parks workers. In May, when Josh D’Amaro, the former president of Walt Disney World Resort, was promoted to chairman of parks, experiences and shopper merchandise, Chapek additionally handed the reins of Disney’s direct-to-consumer division to Rebecca Campbell. Campbell had been the president of Disneyland Resort.

As CEO, Chapek has been shortly placing his stamp on the firm. Since taking the high submit in February, the government has been pressured to be reactive, as the coronavirus pandemic has crippled the firm’s theme park, studio and live-sports companies. 

In August, Chapek stated he deliberate to speed up the firm’s push into streaming, which has seen an enormous uptick in subscribers in latest months. 

As of August, Disney has 100 million paid subscribers throughout its streaming choices — Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu — greater than half of whom are subscribers to Disney+.

Disney is turning into extra reliant on its streaming service as film theaters have been unable to get well after being shuttered in March as a result of the outbreak. Ticket gross sales and foot site visitors have been notably lackluster at home theaters since the trade tried a large-scale reopening in late August.

This disappointing flip has pressured Disney, and different studios, to postpone main blockbuster releases.

That’s the place Daniel is available in. The 46-year-old will likely be in cost of ensuring streaming turns into worthwhile and making large choices about Disney’s theatrical and streaming content material and launch schedules going ahead.

Daniel, a Chicago native, has been with the firm for 14 years and has expertise throughout a number of of Disney’s divisions. Notably, he was the vp of distribution technique at Walt Disney Studios when Disney closed its deal to buy Marvel Studios for round $Four billion in 2009.

Daniel, a self-proclaimed comedian guide lover and film buff, was additionally half of the group that bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.05 billion.

Marvel and Star Wars have change into an enormous piece of Disney’s technique lately. The two franchises weren’t solely field workplace successes, producing greater than $22 billion over the final decade, however have change into important to the firm’s merchandising, licensing and theme park companies.

In 2017, Daniel took the helm as the head of the firm’s theme park designers, often called Imagineers. Under his watch, Disney opened a quantity of new lands themed round widespread motion pictures and characters. Daniel aided in bringing to life Toy Story Land, Pixar Pier and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Additionally, he had a hand in the building of the Marvel-themed land Avengers Campus that’s set to open in California.

A key piece of Disney’s total technique is how its content material feeds into different points of its enterprise. A movie franchise corresponding to Star Wars not solely fuels ticket gross sales at the motion pictures and residential video gross sales, but in addition merchandise and theme park ticket gross sales. Daniel’s experiences at Disney have put him in contact with many items in that chain.

“What we mean by experiential storytelling is that we actively engage our fans through some of the most innovative and immersive attractions, experiences and products in the world,” Daniel advised Forbes in June 2019. “Simply, the four creative groups at Imagineering allow us to tell stories in a more connective way than ever before.”

In his new function, he’ll maintain the reins to all of Disney’s streaming providers, home tv networks and studios — offering him with new methods to advertise content material throughout platforms. Alan Horn and Alan Bergman will stay in cost of the firm’s studios, Peter Rice will proceed to head the firm’s normal leisure group, and James Pitaro will keep as head of the firm’s sports activities content material.



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