Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Disney Says No to Smoking in Movies

I just received the following press release via email from Disney Corporate Communications. Very interesting news indeed:

THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY MAKES COMMITMENT TO END CIGARETTE SMOKING IN DISNEY-BRANDED FILMS

BURBANK, Calif., July 25, 2007 -- The Walt Disney Company today made a commitment to U.S. Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee, that it will discourage depictions of cigarette smoking in its films and will place an anti-smoking PSA on DVD's of any future film that does depict smoking. Further, Disney will work with theater owners to encourage the exhibition of an anti-smoking PSA before the theatrical exhibition of any such film.

In a letter sent to Representative Markey today, Disney President and CEO Robert A. Iger said, "The Walt Disney Company shares your concern regarding deaths due to cigarette smoking. We discourage depictions of cigarette smoking in Disney, Touchstone and Miramax films. In particular, we expect that depictions of cigarette smoking in future Disney branded films will be non-existent. In response to your suggestion, our Company will place an anti-smoking PSA on DVD's of any future film that does depict cigarette smoking."

"Disney's decision to take a stand against smoking is groundbreaking and I commend CEO Bob Iger for this important commitment. Now it's time for other media companies to similarly kick the habit and follow Disney?s lead," said Representative Markey.

According to the American Lung Association, cigarette smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable morbidity and premature mortality worldwide. Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 438,000 American lives each year and approximately 90 percent of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21.

6 comments:

Nic Kramer said...

I hope this doesn't mean anymore editing to there vintage animated films. They already dit that to their package features.

Jeff Pepper said...

Iger did say "future branded films." I doubt this will signal a return to the rampant cutting that occurred during the 1990s.

Nic Kramer said...

Now that i think about it, might be a good thing. After all We lost Walt because of smoking.

Paul said...

Whew - thank God! Now our kids won't be subjected to Pecos Bill or Gideon the Cat lighting up anymore! Their delicate little sensibilities will be safe, at least until their teens, when the cigarette companies start targeting them. >:(

This is the kind of feel-good move that doesn't really do anything but makes a big splash in the media, garnering goodwill for both the legislator and a company that's pretty much already doing what they say they're going to do in the future.

Jeff, I fail to see your logic. They're saying they won't show smoking in Disney-branded films, and they've already shown they're more than willing to butcher existing content. How can you assume that this doesn't "signal a return to..."

Jeff Pepper said...

Hey Paul--

Even in the past, they only chopped content that they considered to have a strong preschool audience--mostly animation (Melody time, Make Mine Music). Sure, it was misguided and defied logic, but hey, they did it.

I believe they've learned that they can't just market animation to the preschool-soccer mom demo. Hence the Disney Treasures (but with their Maltin disclaimers). This is where my "signal a return to" comment was largely directed.

Most of the studios are realizing this. Look at this weeks Woody Woodpecker DVD and its "adult collector" disclaimer.

Paul said...

Jeff,

You give them far more credit than I do, and I worked for them for a couple of years (in animation), and have been a Walt fan my entire life. What they did to "Music" and "Melody" on DVD was reprehensible, and one of the main reasons I still own a VCR :0)

Still, I hope you're right. What would 101 Dalmatians be without Cruella swaying through shot after shot, trailing a ribbon of cigarette smoke after her? :0)