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To: tktrimbath who wrote (3150)1/29/2004 6:22:35 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 3261
 
Pixar dumps Disney

Studio headed by Steve Jobs says it will seek other distributors for its films starting in 2006.


cnnmoney.printthis.clickability.com


Pixar dumps Disney
Studio headed by Steve Jobs says it will seek other distributors for its films starting in 2006.
January 29, 2004: 6:04 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Pixar Animation Studios Inc. said Thursday it ended talks with Walt Disney Co. to extend a five-picture deal for Disney to distribute Pixar films.

Pixar, the computer animation pioneer founded by Apple Computer Inc.'s Steve Jobs, said it would begin talks with other companies to distribute its films starting in 2006.

"After ten months of trying to strike a deal with Disney, we're moving on," Pixar CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. "We've had a great run together -- one of the most successful in Hollywood history -- and it's a shame that Disney won't be participating in Pixar's future successes."

The move was a clear setback to Disney, which reaped a financial and critical bonanza from the partnership and has struggled with its own strategy for animation.

Disney said Pixar's final offer would have cost Disney hundreds of millions of dollars from the existing distribution deal and was not sweet enough going forward.

"Although we would have enjoyed continuing our successful collaboration under mutually acceptable terms, Pixar understandably has chosen to go its own way to grow as an independent company," Disney Chairman Michael Eisner said in a statement.

Pixar (PIXR: Research, Estimates) stock rose initially in after-hours trading but later fell back, while Disney (DIS: Research, Estimates) stock tumbled about 6 percent.

Pixar said its five films so far -- including "Toy Story", "Monsters Inc." and "Finding Nemo" -- have taken in $2.5 billion at the worldwide box office and sold more than 150 million DVDs and videos.

Pixar had complained that the terms of the distribution deal were tilted too heavily in Disney's favor. Under the deal, Pixar was responsible for content, while Disney handled distribution and marketing.

In exchange, Pixar has split profits with Disney and pays the studio a distribution fee of between 10 percent to 15 percent of revenue. Based on its blockbuster success, Pixar has argued that it should keep the profit itself and cut the fees its studio partner charges.

Many observers had expected Pixar and Disney to keep talking at least until the middle of this year and to eventually reach a deal since both had gained so much from their partnership.

"It makes it look like Eisner did something wrong again, but we shouldn't jump to conclusions. This could be a negotiating tactic by Pixar as well," said Patrick McKeigue, an analyst at Independence Investment, which holds Disney shares.

After the announcement, a Warner Brothers spokeswoman told Reuters that the company "would love to be in business with Pixar," but had not had formal talks about the possibility.

Disney noted in its statement that it owns rights to all the Pixar movies, as well as two more animated features yet to be delivered -- "The Incredibles" due this year and "Cars", expected in 2005.

Disney will distribute those two films with Pixar getting its share of the profits. Disney also has the right to finance and produce sequels if Pixar declines to co-finance and produce them under the current agreement.

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (3151)2/15/2004 12:12:20 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 3261
 
Disney takeover could open way for new Pixar deal

Wednesday February 11, 8:10 pm ET
By Ben Berkowitz

biz.yahoo.com

LOS ANGELES, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Could this be the surprise Hollywood happy ending in which Nemo finds his way back to Disney after all?

The lucrative tie-up between Pixar Animation Studios Inc. (NasdaqNM:PIXR - News), creator of last year's blockbuster animation hit "Finding Nemo," and the Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS - News), which threatens to end after next year with the recent collapse of talks, might still be saved if Comcast Corp.'s (NasdaqNM:CMCSA - News) bid to buy Disney is successful, some executives said on Wednesday.

Comcast took the $50 billion all-stock bid for Disney directly to the public after Disney Chief Executive Michael Eisner rejected proposals for a friendly merger earlier this week.

Eisner, who is also the target of an ouster campaign by dissident former directors, has also been blamed by critics for the failure of talks between Disney and Pixar over renewing their distribution deal, one of the most successful tie-ups in Hollywood history.

Now with the prospect that Disney could be under new management, Eisner critics and even a Comcast executive raised the prospect that a deal might still be reached with Pixar and founder Steve Jobs, who also heads Apple Computer Inc. (NasdaqNM:AAPL - News)

"I have reason to believe that if Michael Eisner were gone, you could do a deal with Pixar on acceptable terms," Stanley Gold, a former board member and ally of Walt Disney nephew and fellow ex-board member Roy Disney, said on a conference call with investors. "I think (Comcast) or others could probably do that if Michael is gone."

Pixar's five computer-generated animated films, among them "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo," have collectively earned $2.5 billion at the box office since 1995.

The DVD release of "Nemo," Disney said on Wednesday, was one of the biggest revenue drivers for its studio division during the most recent quarter. Studio revenue was up 57 percent in the quarter over a year earlier.

DEAL EXPIRING SOON

Pixar's current distribution deal with Disney expires after 2005, and a renewal of the deal was seen as key for Disney, which has seen its traditional bread-and-butter, hand-drawn animated films, decline in the shadow of Pixar's successes.

The company is counting on its own computer-animated film, "Chicken Little," set for the summer of 2005, to revive its fortunes.

Disney has also said it retains sequel rights to the films under the deal, both those already released and the two others coming under the deal - "The Incredibles" this year and "Cars" in 2005. Disney executives have said they have "Toy Story 3" already in development.

Steve Burke, a former top Disney executive and now the president of Comcast Cable, said there was an opportunity for Disney to stay allied with Pixar if the merger was consummated.

"We could potentially reignite talks with Pixar," he told Reuters. Brian Roberts, Comcast's president and chief executive, characterized animation in general as "critical" to Comcast's strategy in seeking the deal.

For its part, Pixar declined comment on the Comcast deal. In a recent conference call, Jobs took pointed jabs at Disney and its animation efforts of late, while reserving some praise for certain rival studios.

Financial analysts said it would take both personal and financial changes to make Pixar and Disney get back together.

"I think it depends on who the personalities are that are involved," said David Mantell, an analyst with Loop Capital Markets. "It's all about the terms. If Comcast thinks that it's a new Disney or it's a new world but they're offering the same contract terms then it's not going to do anything."

"Could they mend the fence? I think it's possible," he said.

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (3152)5/24/2004 6:52:39 AM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 3261
 
A Demure Pixar Takes No Notice of Eager Suitors

nytimes.com

May 24, 2004

By LAURA M. HOLSON

LOS ANGELES, May 23 - Coy is rarely a word used to describe Steven P. Jobs. So it is more than a little surprising that he seems almost uninterested in finding a new partner for his Pixar Animation Studios once its joint venture with the Walt Disney Company ends next year.

Two months ago, Mr. Jobs, who is Pixar's chief executive, was invited to visit the Culver City, Calif., headquarters of Sony Pictures Entertainment but he has yet to make the trip, said a Sony executive apprised of the invitation. Mr. Jobs regularly swaps telephone calls - but little more - with Alan Horn, the president of Warner Brothers Entertainment, which has expressed interest in distributing Pixar films. Other studio executives, including those at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, have asked to meet with Mr. Jobs recently and been turned down. According to one of those executives who asked not to be named, Mr. Jobs told him "he was not ready to talk."

Even Mr. Jobs conceded in an interview two weeks ago that he was moving ahead slowly with potential distributors. "We are talking," he said, "but maybe not as much as they'd like."

There are two schools of thought among analysts and Hollywood executives as to why Mr. Jobs is biding his time. Some say Mr. Jobs is holding out hope of another deal with Disney depending on what happens with Michael D. Eisner, Disney's chief executive. Dissident shareholders tried earlier this year to oust Mr. Eisner, whom Mr. Jobs has blamed for his breakup with Disney. Others say Mr. Jobs has plenty of time to find a distributor and gear up for the 2006 release of the first film that Pixar will finance on its own.

Mr. Jobs declined to further discuss any continuing talks with potential partners. But he has said he is seeking a distribution-only agreement with a studio, meaning that Pixar will fully finance its films, negotiate its own merchandising agreements and keep most of its movies' profits. Currently Mr. Jobs splits profits equally with Disney. But after five wildly successful Pixar movies tallying nearly $2.6 billion at the worldwide box office (and even more when DVD, merchandise and video game sales and rentals are added), Mr. Jobs "can do just about anything he wants," said Lowell Singer, a media analyst who follows Pixar for SG Cowen & Company in San Francisco.

Profit more than tripled in the most recent quarter with the success of "Finding Nemo," which has brought in $865 million at the worldwide box office and is outselling earlier hits like "Monsters, Inc." on DVD and home video. Pixar's next movie, "The Incredibles" is already generating good buzz in Hollywood ahead of its Nov. 5 release, as is "Cars," the final movie to be made by Pixar under its joint venture with Disney.

"No one questions Pixar's ability to produce great movies," Mr. Singer said.

Many analysts, and even some of Disney's competitors, say what Mr. Jobs wants most is to remain with Disney. Pixar's family-oriented films are a natural fit with Disney's wholesome image, and are easy to market alongside stalwart Disney characters like Cinderella. And the partnership has been profitable for both Mr. Jobs and Mr. Eisner. According to a report released earlier this year by Richard A. Bilotti, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, Disney's annual profit starting in 2007 could drop by $30 million to $40 million without an agreement with Pixar, even a distribution-only one.

"A lot of people want to see Pixar and Disney stay together," said Tom Wolzien, a media analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company. Added an executive at a major studio, "Disney can offer him things that no one else can."

The problem, according to people who know both Mr. Jobs and Mr. Eisner, is whether the two can reconcile their fractured relationship. At March's annual meeting, 45 percent of Disney's shareholder votes were withheld from Mr. Eisner in his election to the board. Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney, and Stanley P. Gold, both former board members, have said they plan to campaign against Mr. Eisner ahead of next year's election, hoping to replace him with a candidate of their own.

If that effort is successful, it could clear the way for Mr. Jobs to negotiate a new deal with Disney. According to one person close to Disney's board, some directors have not ruled out the possibility of Disney renewing talks with Pixar whether Mr. Eisner is chief executive or not. George Mitchell, the newly appointed nonexecutive chairman, said last week in a news conference that the board had discussed succession although it still backed Mr. Eisner, whose contract ends in 2006.

Nonetheless, the frost between Disney and Pixar seems to be thawing. Mr. Jobs went out of his way to praise Disney executives two weeks ago in Pixar's earnings call. "Although 'The Incredibles' and 'Cars' will likely be the last two Pixar films marketed and distributed by Disney," he said, "I want to stress that the working relationship between the two companies remains really positive and professional."

Those comments are a stark contrast to his blistering attack on Disney in February, when he called movies like "Treasure Planet" bombs and said sequels to "The Lion King" and "Peter Pan" were "embarrassing."

"It's clear we are wanted by others," Mr. Jobs said then.

Mr. Jobs's new tone has left many executives in Hollywood to speculate whether the most-talked-about Hollywood couple to break up this year might get back together or if Mr. Jobs was simply mending fences because Disney still had two Pixar movies to distribute.

Richard W. Cook, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, declined to discuss Disney's relationship with Pixar. But according to Disney executives, Mr. Eisner would be willing to renew talks with Mr. Jobs if he could strike an equitable deal. (In their last talks Mr. Jobs wanted the rights to Pixar movies that are currently owned by Disney.) Several people who were involved in the earlier talks said a deal could have been reached if both Mr. Eisner and Mr. Jobs had been willing to compromise a little more. But, as Mr. Wolzien contends, "the closer they get to the end of the Pixar deal, the more Disney looks like any distributor."

So for now Mr. Jobs is gearing up for Pixar to go it alone. In March, Pixar hired Simon Backs, the former chief financial officer at Fox Filmed Entertainment, to become Pixar's new chief financial officer. While at Fox, Mr. Backs oversaw financial operations and strategic planning for the television and motion picture divisions and also was involved in worldwide licensing and merchandising. Many analysts agree that Mr. Backs is a compelling addition because he oversaw Fox's distribution agreement with George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars series, which is marketed and released by Fox.

Pixar is beefing up other departments, too. According to a person apprised of the company's business plans, Pixar hired Tom Prichard, an executive from Leapfrog, a children's toy company, to develop and oversee its consumer products group. And Mr. Jobs, according to this person, has even considered expanding the company's headquarters in Emeryville, Calif., as Pixar prepares to move much of its merchandising and licensing operations in-house.

The big question is what company, other than Disney, Mr. Jobs would pay to distribute its movies. "I think Alan Horn said it before but we would like to have a close relationship," said Richard D. Parsons, chief executive of Time Warner, after the company's annual meeting last week. "But that is up to Steve Jobs, his relationship with Disney and the industry." One person who has talked to Mr. Jobs said he was less inclined to pick a company like Sony because its new music service competes directly with Apple's iTunes, which could make the relationship awkward.

Mr. Jobs doesn't have to make a decision soon, Mr. Singer, the SG Cowen analyst, said, because he needs only 12 to 18 months before the release of Pixar's first fully financed movie. That is not expected to happen until late 2006, which gives Mr. Jobs at least until early 2005, although he is likely to line up merchandising partners before the end of the year.

"A lot could happen between now and then," Mr. Singer added.

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To: Jeff P. Breit who started this subject6/4/2004 11:15:20 PM
From: spitsong
   of 3261
 
Welcome to Planet Pixar

Pixar hasn't just turned into the new Disney. It has out-Disneyed Disney, becoming the apprentice that schooled the sorcerer. Pixar's most talented animators grew up admiring Disney, worked at the sketching tables in Burbank, and went on to crib the company's DNA. Pixar's story development process as well as its internal lexicon - including sweatbox, when the director critiques individual animations, and plus-ing, heaping more and more good ideas on a structure that's already working - come directly from the House That Mickey Built. Both companies are technical pioneers: Disney imbued 2-D cel animation with comedy and heartbreak; Pixar coaxed empathy from digital effects. Now the flipbook animation style that made the Magic Kingdom a powerhouse is fading to black: Disney's Home on the Range, released in April, is the last fully 2-D production for the studio, and competitors like DreamWorks are retraining illustrators to be 3-D mouse jockeys. Pixar's digital animation is the wave of the future.



As Disney did in its heyday, Pixar has created an assembly line of wonder: Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo. While the rest of the film industry depends on inherited properties from popular media (Mystic River, Starsky & Hutch, even The Passion of the Christ), each Pixar story is sui generis. "What Pixar is so great at is developing wholly original ideas," says Chris Wedge, the director of 20th Century Fox's Ice Age and next year's Robots. "And it's not just the idea - it's the story, beat by beat, and the characters and relationships. That's the real hard part."


Wired: Welcome to Planet Pixar
wired.com

This is the cover story in the current issue of Wired magazine.

Buona fortuna

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To: spitsong who wrote (3154)6/23/2004 7:28:21 PM
From: High Grader
   of 3261
 
88 to 105 is now the target range for PIXR by my Elliott Calculations.

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To: High Grader who wrote (3155)6/27/2004 7:59:58 PM
From: spitsong
   of 3261
 
Wow, any expected timetable on that?

Nice to see you again, HighGrader!

Buona fortuna

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To: spitsong who wrote (3156)7/1/2004 12:43:17 PM
From: High Grader
   of 3261
 
Time clusters are at 11/12/04 and 05/20/05.
Time is more difficult than price to get right.
Use both projections with caution of course.
Should be some nice option play in there.

Good luck.

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To: spitsong who wrote (3154)7/2/2004 5:56:10 PM
From: Keith J
   of 3261
 
Surprised to see Shrek 2 do as well as the box office as it did. Would imagine that bodes well for Pixar.

KJ

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To: Keith J who wrote (3158)7/13/2004 4:15:03 PM
From: spitsong
   of 3261
 
Keith re: Shrek 2

I haven't seen this film yet, but my wife took my kids last month and said that if anything, it was better than the first film. I didn't see the first film until it came to video (we bought it on VHS), and it was fun, though noticeably inferior to any recent Pixar film in terms of animation quality. I was doubtful that Dreamworks/PDI would be able to do as well on their second go-round, considering that Dreamworks' record in producing animated films has been so lousy beyond Shrek, though PDI's was at least passable. However, those studios seem to have found their stride in making anti-fairy tales aimed at older kids and young adults. How well they do in October when Shark Tale is released should go a long way in indicating how successful their non-Shrek releases will be in future.

I think Pixar's upcoming release of The Incredibles in November will be their sixth consecutive dead-certain winner, though doing as well as Shrek 2 or even Finding Nemo with a November release is a tall order. It has a good chance to beat Monsters, Inc. at the box office, making it the fourth or third (depending on whether it also exceeds The Lion King, which would be a stretch) highest grossing animated film of all time, however, and so another huge success by any measure. I agree that the success of Shrek 2 should also help Pixar/Disney with The Incredibles.

I notice that Disney has been having trouble at the box office of late, with King Arthur, Hidalgo, Home on the Range, and especially Around the World in 80 Days posting disappointing results at the box office:

King Arthur: $25.6M domestic box office gross in six days, vs. reported combined production and marketing costs of $160M:

boxofficemojo.com

Hidalgo: $67.2M domestic box office gross in 19 weeks, vs. reported combined production and marketing costs of $125M:

boxofficemojo.com

Home on the Range : $49.7M domestic box office gross in 15 weeks (production and marketing costs not available):

boxofficemojo.com

Around the World in 80 Days: $22.3M domestic box office gross in 27 days, vs. reported combined production and marketing costs of $140M:

boxofficemojo.com

Note that Hidalgo is Disney's highest-grossing film of 2004 so far, in terms of domestic box office gross, standing as the #17 film of the year by that measure as of yesterday:

boxofficemojo.com

This stands in stark contrast to last year, when Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean did so well for Disney, being the #2 and #3 films of the year (after The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King):

boxofficemojo.com

I think with Harvey Weinstein at Miramax, Steve Jobs at Pixar, and of course Roy Disney himself expressing such dissatisfaction with Disney chief Michael Eisner's stewardship, that it certainly makes sense that Disney would be working hard to reopen talks with Pixar while Eisner still can, as it reportedly has been:

Jim Hill Media: When it comes to wooing back Pixar, is Mickey talking out of both sides of his mouth?
jimhillmedia.com

We'll see how well Disney's The Village does in 2 1/2 weeks, and how The Princess Diaries 2 does next month, though the latter film doesn't promise to be anything more than a modest moneymaker, I think.

Buona fortuna

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To: spitsong who wrote (3159)7/21/2004 9:13:23 AM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 3261
 
DreamWorks Animation is being spun out of DreamWorks Studios in an IPO:

sec.gov

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