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What is Kugali Media? Nigeria and Disney collab on new show Iwájú

Nigeria’s Kugali Media and Disney are partnering together to create a new science-fiction series: Iwájú.

Pixar’s ‘Soul’ was the studio’s first film to feature a Black lead. And it is just one of Disney’s many recent moves to produce more diverse stories.

Disney declared in 2019 that the company would make a concerted effort to focus more on diversity. In both its offices and stories.

Then, in a historic collaboration, Disney announced that Disney Animation will partner with Nigerian digital entertainment company Kugali.

Nigeria and Disney collaborate. But what is Kugali Media?

Kugali is the product of entrepreneur Ziki Nelson, CG artist Hamid Ibrahim, and also videogame developer Toluwalakin Olowofuyeku. The company above all else aims to bring authentic African tradition and storytelling to the rest of the world. And they will do so through beautifully illustrated graphic novels, animation, and augmented reality.

Together with Disney, Kugali will bring Iwájú, an animated science-fiction series, to Disney Plus in 2022. Based on the widely acclaimed cultural impact and success of Marvel’s Black Panther, Iwájú’s afro-futuristic style and also focus on African characters is set to be a crowd-pleaser.

More diverse stories to come

Nigeria and Disney’s collaboration with Kugali also isn’t the only thing Disney’s doing for those calling for more diverse properties.

Disney also announced a freshly diversified cast for a live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. The film will feature Halle Bailey as Ariel, Awkwafina as Scuttle, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, and also Javier Bardem as King Triton. And even a soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda, due to release this November.

An animated series based on Moana with the same title, and Tiana, based on The Princess and The Frog, will also be joining Disney Plus in 2023.

In addition, Miranda will be writing music for Encanto, a new movie still in development set in Colombia. These projects follow Pixar’s shorts Bao and Out and also the live-action remake of Mulan.

Disney’s resolve to champion diversity

Last summer, in the wake of national uprisings over the killing of George Floyd, Disney was among one of the many corporations claiming to make “real change” by taking diversity, equity, and inclusion more seriously.

In a now-public letter sent to employees, executives then promised to use “compassion, creative ideas, and a collective sense of humanity to foster a culture that acknowledges feelings and pain.”

Furthermore, Disney emphasized that its employees are held dear. The company’s 2019 corporate responsibility report then stated that “talent recruiting, retention, and development efforts prioritize the cultivation of a strong, diverse, and thriving workforce, with 44% of [Disney’s] U.S. employees identifying as people of color.”

Disney has clearly noticed it pays to appeal to a wider audience, and thus the coming years are only the tip of the iceberg for more diverse stories to come.

Disney is launching a new streaming service that could change the game

It is no secret that Netflix has been a monumental success. But as of next year, the streaming service will have to contend with another major streaming competitor, Disney — although I don’t know if “Disney and Chill” will have the same ring to it as its streaming predecessor, and if anything, it sounds kind of creepy.

Anyways, the point is, although there are already an array of streaming services for us to choose from — such as Hulu, Amazon, DC Universe, HBO Now, CBS All Access, and many more — the creation of a Disney streaming service could be a game changer.

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People know Disney as the distributor of some of our most beloved childhood films. Yet, some are unaware of just how many companies Disney actually owns. To put this whole announcement in perspective, in discussing the development of Disney’s streaming service in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Disney CEO, Bob Iger stated,

“It will have the entire output of the studio, animation, live action at Disney, including Pixar, Star Wars and all the Marvel films.”

Iger’s statement illuminates how most popular and beloved fan franchises are inextricably tied to and owned by Disney.

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With last year’s announcement of Disney terminating its distribution deal with Netflix, it is no surprise that the media conglomerate has decided to capitalize on the way we now consume media and enter into the market by creating its own streaming service.

With Marvel’s Cinematic Universe continuing to dominate the box office every year, there are no signs of audiences growing tired of the superhero franchise.

What we know so far is that Captain Marvel will be the first film to be released on Disney’s own streaming service. It is a highly anticipated film that will mark Oscar winner Brie Larson’s entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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To add, the streaming service will include major titles such as, Toy Story 4, Frozen 2 (just when we got the lyrics to “Let it Go” out of heads), the live action version of The Lion King with major stars attached, the Avengers 4 and finally, Star Wars: Episode IX.

Plus, already having ownership of Pixar and Lucasfilm, the development of the streaming service will instrumental shape future productions from these companies, leaving me personally to speculate that these franchises will eventually turn into a serial form.

Netflix will not have to immediately relinquish all of the Disney titles it distributes.

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Though Netflix recently canceled two of their Marvel series, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, it also just launched the third season of Daredevil, The Punisher and ordered a third season of Jessica Jones.

There hasn’t been an official announcement as to what Disney’s streaming service will cost for subscribers, but Disney’s CEO Iger stressed that the cost would be lower than Netflix’s monthly subscription fee.

In short, there will be some transition time for Netflix before it has to contend with The House of Mouse later next year.

Disney could give Netflix the Mickey Mouse hands with Disneyflix

Would it be a fair one if we don’t give Disney a chance to shoot the hands in the ring of media streaming? After all, Mickey Mouse has been throwing fists since 1923. Damn, those are some dusty ass gloves.

Still, it was only a matter of time until Disney dusted those shits off, went back to the drawing board, and figured out a way to possible pulverize the king of entertainment streaming, Netflix, into the ground.

Netflix should be shook of facing defeat as they just priced a junk-bond offering of $1.9 billion in order to fund more original content in hopes of a massive takeover in the near future.

Another reason Netflix should be wary? Disney’s new streaming platform which is set to make its American debut in 2019, Disney(flix), might have the oomph to knock the streaming empire right out its cooked Balenciagas.

If we were to take what Disney has under its entertainment umbrella and compare it to Netflix’s content, Walt’s company beats Hasting’s company over and over again.

Let’s think about it for one minute. Disney owns Fox, ABC, Marvel, Pixar, and LucasFilm. That would mean that would be able to stream The Simpsons, Modern Family, Black Panther, Toy Story, and the Star Wars saga. Light work.

Not to mention that it could just pull every single move affiliated with Disney off of Netflix and stream it on DisneyFlix. That’s a jux if I’ve ever heard of one.

Disney would also body the sports entertainment industry adding a new element to streaming. For one, they basically own all of ESPN, Inc. and last year the company paid $1.58 billion to acquire an additional 42% stake in BAMTech.

BAMTech is “a global leader in direct-to-consumer streaming technology and marketing services, data analytics, and commerce management—from MLBAM, the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball.”

Low key, the acquisition has put Disney way ahead of Netflix and is a way to keep their top earning network, ESPN on top. Damn, that’s another lost round for Netflix.

However, if Disney wants to stay ahead of the curve they’ll have to have great subscription retention as Netflix’s subscription numbers stand at a whopping 117.6 million.

Low key tho, Disney already has a massive streaming audience with its 60 percent stake in Hulu and all. Hopefully, Netflix will be able to knuckle up, they are so close to becoming worth more than Disney.

If not, it might be a wrap for the streaming service we’ve all become addicted to.