Disney Plans Series of Horror Shorts for Halloween

The Walt Disney Co. plans to air a series of short horror films this Halloween from 20th Digital Studio.

The 60 genre-bending shorts are being created by emerging filmmakers and will appear on Disney digital and broadcast outlets including ABC, Freeform, FX and Hulu.

Disney Ad Sales is seeking sponsors for the bit-sized thrillers, which will appear in September and October. The sale of integrations and sponsorships is being headed by Jerry Daniello, senior VP, entertainment brand solutions.

The series was brought back to life by Disney, which acquired 20th Digital Studio as part of its purchase of 21st Century Fox. The first set of shorts appeared for Halloween in 2017.

“We are seeing so much energy in the short form horror genre and we are excited to provide a world platform for a community of emerging new filmmakers. This process will provide the necessary funding to support creative storytellers and give them the resources needed to realize their vision,” said David Worthen Brooks, executive VP of 20th Digital Studio.

The winning short films were selected from more than 1,000 pitches from 250 filmmakers.

The films should be appealing to advertisers. During 2017, the two-minute shorts appeared during high-profile shows including FX’s American Horror Story, Fox’s Ghosted and the Major League Baseball playoffs and achieved the highest ad retention of any advertiser in October, according to Disney. The films also generated high levels of social media engagement for the brands.

Mars sponsored the shorts in 2017 and four of the films were winners at the 2018 Brand Film Festival.

The four award winning films that were created for Mars are M&M’s The Road, directed by Jack Bishop and Justin Nijm; Snickers’Live Bait, directed by Andrew Laurich; Starburst’s The Replacement, directed by Chris Leone; and Skittles’ Floor 9.5, directed by Toby Meakins. 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.