After Walt Disney Co. directors rejected Comcast's unsolicited $54 billion bid as too low and rallied behind beleaguered chairman Michael Eisner, Comcast defended its merger proposal on Tuesday, leaving doubt about its willingness to sweeten the offer. On Tuesday, Walt Disney Co. lost 9 cents to $26.83. But the board said it would "consider any legitimate proposal" that would create shareholder value. Comcast was up 87 cents at $30.77 after several sessions of declines.
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Kermit and his Muppets pals have decided to move into the uproarious mouse house, having been acquired by The Walt Disney Co. in a deal announced Feb. 17, 2004, on the heels of Disney rejecting Comcasts hostile bid to buy the entertainment conglomerate. Disney has been trying for some time to acquire from Jim Henson Co.
Since its Tuesday release, Walt Disney Pictures' THE LION KING 1 1/2 has sold more than 3 million combined DVD/VHS units in North America. Based on this sales figure alone, THE LION KING 1 1/2 is now positioned to be the best-selling direct-to-video DVD of all time.
With cable TV giant Comcast Corp. stunning the entertainment world with its proposed offer on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2004, to buy the Walt Disney Co. for an estimated stock value of $66 billion, the industry was abuzz with speculation that Disney chairman/ceo Michael Eisner's days are now numbered. Especially in light of the fact that Institutional Shareholder Services, a leading provider of proxy voting and corporate governance services, also recommended on Wednesday that Disney shareholders withhold their vote for Eisner's reelection to the board of directors.
The Walt Disney Co. and Microsoft Corp. have signed a multiyear agreement to cooperate on several long-term digital media initiatives to improve the quality, security and reach of digital content within the home and on Microsoft Windows XP-based PCs, as well as on a growing number of home and portable entertainment devices. As part of the agreement, Disney will license Microsoft Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. Disney and Microsoft have identified three areas of joint focus that utilize effective rights management:
FINDING NEMO cast no doubt that Pixar Animation Studios (Walt Disney Pictures) continues to ride the biggest wave in animation as it won in nine out of the nine categories it was nominated in at the 2003 Annie Awards held Feb. 7, 2004 at the Alex Theater in Glendale, California, culminating in the big kahuna, Best Feature. While it competed against 2D entries, including the beloved TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE, animation professionals and fans, who comprise the voting membership of ASIFA-Hollywood that doles out the awards, favored the 3D production.
Everything was back to normal Friday on Wall Street after Pixar stock dipped slightly on Thursday following ceo Steve Jobs' mid-week assault on Disney during a conference call with analysts to rejoice Pixar's fourth quarter earnings. On Friday, shares of Pixar Animation Studios stock rose 1.1% to finish at $63.27 after slipping 1.5% on Thursday to finish at $62.58. On Wednesday, Pixar reported net income of $83.9M, or $1.44 a share, for the period-ended Dec. 31, thanks to the record-breaking FINDING NEMO, compared to $17M, or 31 cents a share for the comparable period in 2002.
A mouse displaced out of the Disney house is roaring. Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold have been busy in the past week stirring up supporters and media attention in their efforts to oust Michael Eisner, chairman of The Walt Disney Co.
Longtime Disney artist John Hench passed away on Feb. 5, 2004 after suffering heart failure after a brief illness and hospitalization at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. He was 95 years old.
Gnomon alumnus, Dave Pascuito has designed a new Website for Gnomon School of Visual Effects. The new site features one-click navigation, lots of student images, expanded instructor information and very clear descriptions of the numerous training options available through Gnomon, which is located in Hollywood. Check out www.gnomon3d.com.
It's official: Pixar has concluded discussions to extend its long-term partnership with The Walt Disney Co., and will go its own way as a potential indie powerhouse with its own strong brand identity. The Emeryville, California-based CG animation studio still has two features to deliver to Disney: THE INCREDIBLES in 2004 and CARS in 2005, but is now free to continue negotiations for a distribution deal with another studio. Last August, Pixar chairman and ceo Steve Jobs initiated talks with Fox and Warner Bros.
A state appeals court in California reinstated WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? novelist Gary K. Wolf's lawsuit against Walt Disney Co., claiming that Disney owes Wolf millions of dollars in merchandising royalties, reported the ASSOCIATED PRESS. This lawsuit is very similar to the one brought against Disney by the Slesinger family, owners of the WINNIE THE POOH copyright.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has denied an appeal by Clare Milne and Disney to recapture the rights under copyright to Winnie the Pooh from the Slesinger family, originally granted in an agreement with author A. A. Milne in the '30s.
In November of 2002, Disney said Clare Milne had initiated complex copyright-law maneuvers in an effort to reclaim the rights to Pooh. In May, a Federal District court ruled in favor of the Slesingers, leading to Milne's appeal, which Disney joined.
Buena Vista International Television has an original new animated show to sell at NATPE 2004, DISNEYS DAVE THE BARBARIAN, which debuts at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 23, 2004 on the Disney Channel. Produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, the 21x30 comedy series was created by Doug Langdale.
Walt Disney Feature Animation has officially closed its animation unit in Orlando, Florida that was responsible for BROTHER BEAR ($83.6M), LILO & STITCH ($146M) and MULAN ($121M) as a cost-cutting measure. In November, Disney cancelled production of A FEW GOOD GHOSTS, leaving little doubt about the fate of its 258 employees based in Florida.
The same day that Walt Disney Feature Animation officially declared the closing of its Florida unit, saying goodbye for the moment to traditional animation, it strengthened its 3D commitment by announcing the addition of A DAY WITH WILBUR ROBINSON to its production slate.
Toon Disney is giving viewers a chance to do their homework on DISNEYS TEACHERS PET before the feature film hits theaters on Jan. 16, 2004. The Disney cable outlet is presenting a special four-hour marathon on Jan. 11 from 8:00 to noon, featuring eight consecutive episodes of the critically acclaimed animated TV series, produced by Walt Disney Television Animation.
Disney Online has launched the Sellbot Cog Headquarters (HQ), an advanced play area in TOONTOWN, the award-winning, multiplayer 3D online game for kids and families. TOONTOWN, an online world where the Toons (players) live, is under siege by the Cogs, a bungling group of robots, who are trying to take over by turning it into a dark metropolis of skyscrapers and businesses.
The U.S. Postal Service unveiled four new commemorative postage stamps on Dec. 30, 2003 that celebrate friendship as portrayed by the Walt Disney studio, honoring some of the most beloved animated characters in the history of American entertainment.
The Art of Disney: Friendship stamps feature several world-famous friends: Goofy, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck; Bambi and Thumper; Simba and his father, Mufasa; and Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio. The Postal Service will issue the 37-cent, self-adhesive stamps in summer 2004.
John S. Chen, chairman/ceo/president of Sybase Inc., will join the Walt Disney Co. board of directors in January 2004, as ex-members Roy Disney and Stan Gold continue to publicly criticize the board and its actions.
Wah Ming Chang, an Academy Award-winning animator and artist, died Dec. 22, 2003 in Carmel, California at the age of 86.
Some of his more notable works include a stop-motion animation production of THE THREE BEARS. Chang created posable wooden models of PINOCCHIO and BAMBI so that Disney animators could study body movements. He also contributed to BOZO THE CLOWN, TOM THUMB, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM and THE SEVEN FACES OF DR. LAO, reported Associated Press.
ASIFA-Hollywood has released the full list of juried award winners for the 2004 Annie Awards. In addition to Gene Deitch who we reported on Dec. 16, 2003 would receive the Winsor McCay Award, the other winners include Walt Disney designer John Hench and Tony the Tiger voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft.
Disney has hired Grant Calof and Greg Lee to adapt David Wiesner's award-winning illustrated children's book THE THREE PIGS into an animated feature combining CG and traditional techniques, VARIETY reports. Like SHREK, PIGS is a postmodern take on classic fairy tales (this one was made famous by Disney, of course, in a 1933 Silly Symphony short).
Well is wasnt exactly Santa Claus who attended the Animation Guilds holiday open house party on Dec. 12, 2003 but it was just about as anticipated and welcome amongst animators when Roy E. Disney strode into the banquet room at Pickwick Gardens in Burbank, California. The huge crowd rose to its feet and parted like the Red Sea for Moses when Disney, embroiled in a power structure with Michael Eisner for the direction of the Walt Disney Co., made his dramatic entrance. Animation chat rooms have been buzzing with gratitude for Disneys letter to Eisner, in which he resigned from the company board of directors before it officially dumped him, and accused Eisner of mishandling and leading the company astray from the vision of his uncle and father who founded the company.