Meet Karim Daniel, head of Disney’s new distribution unit


Disney has a long history of converting hourly employees into company executives. Karim Daniel’s move from intern to the company’s newest distribution division is no exception.

On Monday, Disney announced that it would restructure its media and entertainment divisions in an effort to streamline its direct-to-consumer strategy, which would now focus even more on its streaming services.

As part of the restructuring, CEO Bob Chapek tapped Daniel, the former president of consumer products, games and publishing, as head of the company’s new media and entertainment distribution group.

Daniel is no stranger to working with Chapek. Eventually, the current CEO of Disney hired Daniel as an apprentice while he was working on getting his MBA at Stanford. The pair worked together when Parks was the head of the Experience and Consumer Products Division and Daniel was leading the Imagineering program.

Chapek has surrounded himself with park staff. In May, when former Walt Disney World Resort president Josh D’Amro was promoted as president of parks, experiences and consumer products, Chapek also handed Rebecca Campbell the reins of Disney’s direct-to-consumer division . Campbell had been president of the Disneyland Resort.

As CEO, Chapek is putting his stamp on the company. Since taking the top post in February, the executive has been forced to be reactive, as the coronovirus epidemic has crippled the company’s theme parks, studios and live-sports businesses.

In August, Chapek said it planned to intensify the company’s push into streaming, which has seen a huge upsurge of subscribers in recent months.

As of August, Disney has 100 million paid subscribers across its streaming offerings – Disney +, ESPN + and Hulu – more than half of which are subscribers to Disney +.

Disney is becoming more dependent on its streaming service as movie theaters were not able to recover after its closure due to an outbreak in March. There has been a particularly shortage of ticket sales and foot traffic in domestic theaters since the industry attempted to reopen on a large scale in late August.

This disappointing turn has forced Disney, and other studios, to postpone major blockbuster releases.

This is where Daniel comes. The 46-year-old will be in charge of ensuring that streaming becomes profitable and makes major decisions about Disney’s theatrical and streaming content and release schedule.

Daniel, a Chicago native, has been with the company for 14 years and has experience in several Disney divisions. In particular, he was vice president of distribution strategy at Walt Disney Studios when Disney closed its deal to buy Marvel Studios in 2009 for about $ 4 billion.

A self-proclaimed comic book lover and film buff, Daniel was also part of the team that bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for $ 4.05 billion.

Those two franchises combined have grossed over $ 22 billion at the box office over the past decade.

Marvel and Star Wars have become a major part of Disney’s strategy in recent years. The two franchises were not only successful at the box office, but have become critical to the company’s merchandising, licensing and theme park businesses.

In 2017, Daniel took the helm as head of the company’s theme park designers, known as imagers. Under his watch, Disney opened many new lands around popular films and characters. Daniel helped bring in Toy Story Land, Pixar Pier and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Additionally, he had a hand in building the Marvel-themed land Avengers Campus which is set to open in California.

An important part of Disney’s overall strategy is how its content feeds other aspects of its business. Film franchises such as Star Wars not only promote ticket sales at movies and home video sales, but also commercial and theme park ticket sales. Daniel’s experiences at Disney put him in contact with several pieces in that series.

Danielle told Forbes in June of last year, “By telling experiential storytelling we mean that we actively engage our fans through some of the world’s most innovative and engaging attractions, experiences and products.” “Simply, Imagine’s four creative groups allow us to tell stories in a more restrained way than ever before.”

In his new role, he will take over all of Disney’s streaming services, home television networks and studios – giving him new ways to promote content across platforms. Alan Horn and Alan Bergman will remain in charge of the company’s studios, Peter Rice will remain head of the company’s general entertainment group, and James Pitaro will head the company’s sporting goods.

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