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Recently, The Walt Disney Company held its annual shareholders conference, where the various executives of the company talked about their plans for the coming year. Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer of Disney Channels Worldwide, showed in his comments that, much as many outlets have been reporting, he hopes that Phineas and Ferb will become their next big franchise. He believes that the show definitely deserves it, as do I. Commenting on how, starting in 2001, the company started creating profits in multiple sources through Disney Channel stars, due to the fact that the network is commercial-free, and thus is able to promote "one company's products...to the exclusion of all others. That would be Disney. Basically, we have three strategic objectives that we look at everything through. Number one, build and support the Disney brand. Number two, create global franchises for the larger Walt Disney Company. And number three, find and launch talent that we can then leverage across those multiple lines of businesses that we own."
Marsh did so with stars such as Hilary Duff and Raven-Symoné in the early part of the first decade of the 21st century. And it just kept going: "So, between 2006 and 2010, the strategy just exploded and we hit the mother lode with High School Musical and Hannah Montana, each of which went on to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in operating income for the company. And more importantly, I think it proved to us and to the world, that when we do it right, we can generate revenue across virtually every single business of the Walt Disney Company."
"So now, people have been asking, what's next? The reality is that what's next is already here. It's now. And if you've been anywhere within five miles of me in the last two years, you know I have been screaming from the rooftops -- Phineas and Ferb. Phineas and Ferb is a huge developing opportunity for the company. It is the number one animated series for tweens. It has been for three years. It's beating SpongeBob. It's beating The Simpsons. It's beating Family Guy. It is catching fire at retail. We have an apparel program and a games program, which has taken off. We have 100 episodes of the series, which are working in virtually every territory, every major territory, around the world. We have a Disney Channel original movie, which is premiering this summer. It will be our tentpole event for the summer, Phineas and Ferb Across the 2nd Dimension and we are in the early stages of developing a hybrid live-action animated feature film with our studios. This, if you haven't seen it, this is a smart, sophisticated comedy. It works on multiple levels for multiple generations, across virtually every cultural divide. Because I am so determined to get Phineas and Ferb into the cultural zeitgeist, I thought they needed their own talk show. So here is a short-form piece that we've developed to give Phineas and Ferb that extra punch to push them over the edge. Phineas and Ferb Take Two."
It's not surprising that Mr. Marsh and the folks at Disney have high hopes for Phineas and Ferb- if there's any Disney Channel property that deserves it, it's them. Although Disney apparently does not directly reference the sponge and prefers to measure it on its own merits, there's no doubt that they're hoping the series becomes "The New SpongeBob," as the New York Times once put it. Will Phineas and Ferb become cultural icons- and moneymakers? Only time will tell.