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Disney recruits Game of Thrones creators to launch new Star Wars films

Disney reported quarterly profit that beat expectations, supported by US tax cuts and growth at its theme parks

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Disney reported a 1% fall in revenue at its movie division in the first quarter

Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) said it has hired the creators of Game of Thrones to launch a new series of Star Wars films following a decline in quarterly revenue at its movie business.

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will write and produce the next round of the popular film franchise. 

The decision to milk Star Wars comes after the company reported a 1% fall in revenue at its movie division in the first quarter. Total revenue increased to US$15.4bn from US$14.8bn last year with its theme parks the only division to post growth. The company's media networks business delivered flat revenue, reflecting a slump at its ABC broadcasting network.

Disney has also been losing pay TV subscribers from its ESPN network as viewers shift to online viewing. In response, it will launch a streaming service for sports fans called ESPN Plus in the spring for US$4.99 per month.

Earnings beat market forecasts 

Earnings per share rose 88% to US$4.4bn or US$2.91 a share in the quarter through December, thanks to a US$1.6bn benefit from Donald Trump's US tax cuts. 

Adjusted for the tax benefit and other items, the company reported earnings of US$1.89 per share, up from US$1.55 last year..

Analysts had expected adjusted earnings of US$1.89 a share and revenue of US$15.5bn.

Last year Disney announced a deal to buy the media assets of 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA), including its stake in Sky. The deal is under review by regulators.

READ: Walt Disney confirms deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox's assets

Shares in Disney rose 2.9% to US$109 each in US after-hours trade. 

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NYSE:DIS
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