Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Disney Buys Lucas

You can read the details everywhere, so I won't bother with them here.

I have no doubt that Wall Street and investors will see this as a good move, as all they are concerned about is money.  However, I'm concerned with artists and Disney's trend is not artist friendly.

Why not?  Well, if you happen to be somebody working in computer animation in the San Francisco bay area, there is now one less employer in the market.  Pixar and ILM have been charged with collusion, cooperating to make sure that they didn't hire employees from each other.  Now they're the same company and they can do what they like with hiring policies and pay scales.  As neither studio is union, there is no floor to pay or benefits.

The problem goes beyond that, though.  While Disney and Pixar continue to turn out some original films, Pixar has already been strong-armed into making sequels because Disney needs to pay off the purchase price.  There will be many, many more Star Wars and Marvel films to pay off those purchases as well.

That takes money and oxygen away from original projects that potentially could become as big as Star Wars or the Marvel Universe.  The company is clearly committed to milking existing intellectual property and acquiring more of it than creating new intellectual property.  And so much of what Disney is buying is from the last century. 

Robert Iger is clearly looking backwards more than forwards.

But don't forget that the Muppets started out as a small troop of puppeteers on local television, Marvel started out as a handful of creators working out of their homes, and George Lucas got turned down by everyone until Alan Ladd, Jr. took a chance (but didn't realize the value of sequel or merchandising rights or he would have kept them).  What Robert Iger doesn't see is that great creations don't come from large companies, they come from people committed to their own ideas who work out of basements, garages, warehouses and other out of the way places.  Sort of the way Walt Disney started.  Remember him?

Which means that while Iger is busy grinding out Muppets, Marvels and Star Wars, the great creations of the 21st century will be happening elsewhere.  Seek them out.

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