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  • Writer's pictureSwati Bhat

A former Amazon executive thinks Disney will win the metaverse

July 15: If anyone knows how Hollywood should prepare for the metaverse, it’s Matthew Ball. The former Amazon Video executive has become the number one expert on the next version of the internet, thanks to a series of essays on the subject.


Swati Bhat

This month, Ball is publishing his book, “The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything.” The work explains in detail what the metaverse is all about and which shifts in tech, business and culture need to fall into place for it to come into existence.

A few days ago, In conversation with Janko Roettgers (Protocol) Ball about the book, the rapid pace of change and the biggest misconceptions about the metaverse. You can read all about that:


How will the metaverse change Hollywood? In his book, Ball argues that people tend to underestimate the changes new technologies will have on media and entertainment.

  • Ball cites the way newspaper publishers approached the early days of the internet as an example. Not too long ago, those publishers assumed that people would want to subscribe to a PDF edition of their daily paper, which they would print out and read front to back.

  • At the time, the idea that the internet could make printing presses obsolete was downright revolutionary. A few years later, we’ve all adapted to a 24/7 news cycle, and the daily paper itself seems quaint. Plus, who prints anything anymore?

  • Ball argues that the same is true for the notion that we’ll watch linear content in AR or VR.

  • Instead of just seeing a movie play out in 360 degrees around us, we’ll want to be part of the movie and play a more active role.

  • One way to achieve that is through games, which have long blurred the lines between storytelling and interactivity. But Ball also predicts there will be a wide range of adjacent content experiences, from virtual Tinder dates in the “Star Wars” universe to Peloton rides through your favorite movie sets.

Virtual production will be key to enabling this future, according to Ball. Studios have been embracing real-time production technologies, including game engines and LED walls, to speed up productions while also giving directors more tools to find that perfect shot.

  • A side effect of this approach is that studios are increasingly amassing digital assets, which can be repurposed for future projects.

  • “Much like we think of a physical backlot today containing the ‘Seinfeld’ set from the ’90s, which can be pulled out at any point, we start to talk about virtual props,” Ball told me.

  • These props could be sets, characters or even small 3D-rendered objects, which movie studios could then license to companies like Tinder or Peloton, or use to populate their own metaverse worlds.

  • However, with most studios having a poor track record in gaming, Ball believes that licensing this content will be key.

Which studio is best positioned for the metaverse? Ball’s money is on Disney. “We are likely to underestimate their fit into this next-generation internet,” he told me.

  • One reason for this is the strength of Disney’s IP. “Star Wars” and the MCU alone could be the backdrop for countless metaverse worlds.

  • Disney’s ILM has also been on the forefront of virtual production, which has been used extensively for shows like “The Mandalorian.”

  • And Disney isn’t just using third-party tools, but actively driving the development of both in-house tech and industry standards.

  • This includes the USD file format, which came out of Pixar and could be key to the future of the 3D internet. “That file format is the HTML of the metaverse,” Ball said.

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