Disney will be bucking its traditional upfront presentation format this spring as the entertainment giant moves its event to the Lower East Side in Manhattan.
Slated for Tuesday, May 17, the presentation will be Disney’s first in several years that does not take place at Lincoln Center, with the company instead opting to take over Basketball City at Pier 36, a 70,000-square-foot sports facility nestled between the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges.
The venue is being approached as a “white canvas” that will allow Disney to rethink every aspect of its presentation. The plan is to create an upfront that’s “a lot more informal” and “much less traditional”—especially for attendees who may be used to the annual ad haggle’s typical auditorium-based events—said Rita Ferro, Disney’s president of ad sales.
It’s being undertaken as a “much more interactive experience,” she said without divulging too many details, promising engaging elements and a roster of talent unlike any of Disney’s previous upfronts. “It won’t be a theater where everyone’s sitting and looking in the same direction,” she continued.
There will be one holdover from previous upfronts, though: talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who has been a staple at Disney and ABC presentations for about 20 years, will make his return this year, Ferro confirmed. Disney originally acquired ABC in the 1990s, though the two entities staged separate upfront presentations until 2019.