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Disney+ unveils first Nordic original, while Bob Iger plots restructuring

Streaming platform Disney+ has unveiled its first ever Nordic Original production, a six-part drama called To Cook a Bear. The series is based on the successful novel of the same name by award-winning Swedish author Mikael Niemi.

To Cook a Bear takes place in 1852 in the north of Sweden. It centres on the death of a local shepherd girl, initially thought to have been killed by a bear. When a second girl is found dead, however, it seems something more sinister is taking place.

“We are proud to announce the very first Disney+ Nordic Original production,” said Vibeke Lia, director of programming & production, The Walt Disney Company Nordic & Baltic: “In EMEA, we will be creating 60 local productions for Disney+ by 2024 as part of the company’s commitment to source, develop and produce original productions. We are thrilled to start bringing local Nordic productions into that mix.”

Disney+’s commitment to EMEA production echoes developments at Netflix and Amazon Prime. However it comes at a time of change for parent group Walt Disney, with Bob Iger making a shock comeback as CEO this week, replacing Bob Chapek.

Kareen Daniel

Iger is currently reviewing operations and is poised to instigate a widespread restructuring in the coming weeks. Having already dispensed with the services of Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, he said in a memo: “I’ve asked Dana Walden, Alan Bergman, Jimmy Pitaro, and Christine McCarthy to work together on the design of a new structure that puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalises costs.”

Iger said that the restructure would “necessitate a reorganization of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution” and as a consequence, Daniel would be leaving the company.

The DMED division is home to Disney’s streaming services, along with its linear and syndicated TV networks ad-sales business. It was created by Chapek in 2020, serving as a distribution hub across Disney’s content groups.

The division was often criticised for putting profit ahead of content creators, which Iger seems to be trying to rectify, noting in the memo: “Without question, elements of DMED will remain, but I fundamentally believe that storytelling is what fuels this company, and it belongs at the center of how we organize our businesses.”

As yet it is unclear how Iger’s restructuring might impact on the company’s expenditure on original production. Earlier this year rival media giant Warner Bros Discovery froze development of local original production for its streaming service HBO Max in the Nordics, Central Europe, the Netherlands and Turkey as it embarked on a company-wide initiative to save $3 billion over two years.

Disney share prices rose by more than 6% yesterday following the unexpected return of Iger as CEO, bouncing from last week’s $91 per share low to more than $100 in early trading before the market closed at $97.58.

Tags: Bob Iger, Disney

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