Saturday, June 23, 2007

Disney-Pixar: A Wall Street Perspective

I thought as a follow up to my Pixar commentary of a few days ago, I'd post a link to a recent article from Business Week that addressed the Disney-Pixar merger. Here is a particularly telling excerpt:

Because even if Ratatouille doesn't come out of the gate with some super-duper opening weekend, and folks say that Iger and company got snookered in the Pixar deal, it doesn't matter. Sure, the Pixar deal was pricey, but it was worth it. Disney all but reinvented itself with the deal. Top Pixar creative font John Lasseter has remade Disney's stumbling animated studio, replacing the director for the upcoming American Dog and jumping in to overhaul the recent Meet the Robinsons. The latter flick is approaching $100 million, a rarity these days for Disney-made animated films. Disney also gets a clear shot at making theme-park rides based on Pixar flicks, such as the new Finding Nemo ride at Disneyland.

Moreover, the deal was a signal to the rest of the creative community that Disney could attract and keep the likes of such big-deal animation directors as Brad Bird, who directed
The Incredibles and Ratatouille, as well as Steve Jobs' top two Pixar hands, Lasseter and Ed Catmull. "We didn't buy Pixar for any one film," says Disney studio chairman Dick Cook. "We bought it for people like John Lasseter, Ed Catmull, Brad Bird, [Finding Nemo writer/director] Andrew Stanton, and many others who we hope will make hundreds of films for us."


According to Disney Chief Financial Officer
, Tom Staggs, the company is six months ahead of schedule in buying back those 279 million Disney shares it issued as currency in the Pixar deal. Indeed, since the deal, Disney stock has jumped 40%, in part due to Iger settling the Pixar issue.

Bear in mind that these observations come from a noted Wall Street analyst and a very reputable business news source. These are not the musings of a couple of hardcore Disney fans wearing rose-colored glasses.

Again, get ready. As the author of this article even noted, the financial performance of Ratatouille will likely reignite the Pixar debate in some circles. But it appears those circles are getting quite a bit smaller and distinctly less populated.


Anonymous said...

Ratatouille is going to do well, not blockbuster, but well. And I say we simply ignore the cottage industry of naysayers who will kvetch and moan about it. They're simply wrong.
Ratatouille will be compared to Fantasia insofar as it is light years ahead of where animation is at this moment, and it will take some people a decade or two to catch up. That we can still see the original Fantasia and unearth treasures decades's what I believe we'll see--soon enough--with Ratatouille.
The new Pixar/Disney film will do well enough at the box office and in the side markets (toys, plush, etc.). Where it will take some time to catch on is that is is actually animation primarily for adults: a mature story told in rich, deep tones with subtle flavors (pardon the lame pun), not a big didactic message that hits you over the head at the end. This film will grow legs in places where animation has never been taken seriously. It's growth will be slow and steady over the years, aside from opening box office that would be considered perfectly fine were it anyone but Pixar/Disney. (As was mentioned, Meet the Robinsons took in 100M, and it was an excellent film in the Disney tradition. All thanks to Pixar stepping in and plussing it.)
Good article, thanks for the efforts!

Anonymous said...

"Moreover, the deal was a signal to the rest of the creative community that Disney could attract and keep the likes of such big-deal animation directors as Brad Bird, who directed The Incredibles"

Attract and keep?

If I'm not mistaken Disney Feature Anim passed on Brad Birds Incredibles script.