Apr 14, 2020 - Economy & Business

Disney becomes one of Hollywood's biggest coronavirus victims

Data: Company filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

Disney's kingdom is losing its magic to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Analysts point to Disney's healthy balance as proof that the company will weather the storm, but its experience dealing with coronavirus will fundamentally alter the way the nearly 100-year-old business operates moving forward.

Driving the news: A services union group said Sunday that Disney would furlough over 43,000 of its 75,000 employees of its Walt Disney World theme park.

The big picture: Several of Disney's blockbuster films have been postponed as theaters remain shuttered. The production of other Hollywood titles is being put on hold as social distancing measures are in place.

  • Disney cruise lines extended some of its temporary sailing suspensions. The company has closed most of resorts worldwide and many stores.

By the numbers: As a result of the pandemic, Disney's stock has dropped nearly 30 percentage points as of Monday from its peak in January.

  • Its stock price gas reached its lowest point since 2014, erasing six years of gains that have mostly been fueled by box office dominance.
  • Disney has begun increasing its access to cash so that it can weather the storm.

Between the lines: Despite the fact that TV consumption is up, Disney's flagship sports network ESPN is also being impacted by the crisis.

  • On Monday, ESPN said that it's asked its 100 highest-paid commentators to take a 15% pay cut over the next three months.

Yes, but: Despite these challenges, Disney+, is flourishing as families stuck at home look for easy ways to entertain their kids.

What's next: Bob Iger, who in February announced his retirement as Disney CEO, has re-engaged with the company amid the coronavirus pandemic, N.Y. Times media columnist Ben Smith writes.

  • Per Smith, Iger is helping to craft a response to the crisis to address Disney's future, including reopening the company with less office space and ending glitzy and expensive old-school television practices like TV ad upfronts.

Go deeper: Disney World furloughing 43,000 workers following coronavirus shutdown

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The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Google got a reputational boost at the start of the coronavirus lockdown, but that respite from criticism proved brief. They're now once again walking a minefield of regulatory investigations, public criticism and legislative threats over antitrust concerns, content moderation and privacy concerns.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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