Monday, June 2, 2014

Disney Walk Around

The last few days have found me at Disney Toons Studios (Glendale) and Disney Animation Studios (Burbank). WDAS is packed as work continues on Big Hero 6; there's a number of empty cubicles at DTS as work wraps up on the Tinkerbell series and the next Planes theatrical release. ...

Last week, a Toons staffer told me that the Planes sequel is light-years better than the first one. If true, that's a useful reality for Diz Col since they have no other animated releases until Big Hero 6 late in the year.

Speaking of Big Hero, all departments inside the Hat building are well into work on the feature, even as story work for BH6 wraps up. As one crew-member said:

"Big Hero 6 has a short schedule, about as short as I've seen. But the footage that the departments have turned out so far looks great. These guys are now used to working together and they can move fast. And they do. ..."

I can attest that scenes look good. This morning I got to see stuff that the first-floor staff is working on, and the work is top-notch; also unlike any of the CG shows that have come before. The Marvel input is in strong evidence. For this project, Disney is far away from Princessland.

Beyond Big Hero, there are multiple features lined up on the tarmac, some of them (as far as I can tell from the internet) not yet known in any significant way to the general public. Because I dislike being hectored on the telephone, I will refrain from saying anything more specific than that.

Elsewhere in the Diz Co. universe:

Disney Will Have A Strong Summer Despite Missing One Of Its Top Performers

... ESPN accounts for 35% of Disney's stock price. ESPN, provides both live and taped coverage of sports, and is cashing in on the 2014 history-breaking NBA Playoffs. The first round of the NBA playoffs has seen the most game 7s in NBA history. Not only has this increased viewers, but every extra game is millions more in revenue for ESPN. ...

In 2014, Disney has ... seen records broken in its film division. Disney Studios is no stranger to success, but what is interesting about the year 2014 is that Pixar will not release a film for Disney. Pixar has released a film every summer for eight straight years. Since Disney acquired Pixar, it has enjoyed the fact that Pixar films consistently are box office hits. ... So with Pixar pushing its next movie into 2015, at the cost of 5% of its staff, this year looked bleak for Disney and its film arm of the company. Disney was able to rely on its tenured production company Beuna Vista, which during last November released "Frozen," an animated film that has shattered previously held records. ...

And the Mouse is on the move in other venues (can we say "internet/new media?"):

Maker Studios to Lay Off Staff After Disney Deal

Maker Studios will lay off about 10 percent of its staff of 380, according to individuals familiar with the large network of online video channels. Maker is making the staffing changes after its acquisition by the Walt Disney Co. in a deal worth $500 million (and as much as $950 million). ...

As we've previously noted, Diz Co. has become the Berkshire Hathaway of entertainment conglomerates: lots of divisions, lots of moving parts. Its Pixar acquisition has paid off big time. Likewise the Marvel pick up.

More recently, there was the purchase of George Lucas's company. Will going into the Lucas space opera business be as lucrative? Well, there are these underlying stats:

•Adjusted for inflation*, A New Hope and The Phantom Menace grossed over $2 billion and $1.5 billion respectively, in 2015 a new Star Wars movie is released.

•The company has possession of a few very interesting content assets that benefit from clear competitive advantages.


And of course, the company has indicated it will exploit the Star Wars franchise aggressively, which makes sense. The House of Mouse is a hungry, growing conglomerate, after all. The days when it was a small cartoon studio run by two brothers out of the mid-West are long past.

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