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.
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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.
If the honey jar dont fit you must In another twist to the legal battle between WINNIE THE POOH U.S. rights holders the Slesinger family versus Walt Disney Co., the Slesingers have hired O.J. Simpsons criminal trial lawyer Johnnie Cochrin their ninth lawyer, reported the Associated Press. In mid October, the law firm Jones Day stepped down from the case after less than five months on the 12-year long case, because the family could no longer afford its services.
Paul Robinson, svp of worldwide programming strategy for ABC Cable Networks Group and svp/md of Disney U.K. branded television is leaving the Walt Disney Co. to pursue new opportunities.
Following is the text of Roy Disney's Letter sent to Michael Eisner, asking him to resign:
Mr. Michael D. Eisner, ChairmanThe Walt Disney Company500 South Buena Vista StreetBurbank, CA 91521
It is with deep sadness and regret that I send you this letter of resignation from the Walt Disney Company, both as Chairman of the Feature Animation Division and as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Close on the heels of Roy Disneys resignation from the Walt Disney Co., Stanley P. Gold today, Dec. 1, 2003, sent the following letter of resignation to the Walt Disney board of directors. Gold, 60, worked with Roy Disney in 1984 to save the company from a takeover attempt and install Eisner as chairman. Gold heads Shamrock Holdings, which manages Roy Disney's investments.
The text of Golds letter follows:
December 1, 2003
To the Board of Directors of the Walt Disney Company:
Roy E. Disney, vice chairman of Walt Disney Co. stepped down from the board of directors and called on chairman/chief exec Michael Eisner to resign in a scathing letter.
On Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003, he sent a three-page letter to Eisner criticizing the chairman's leadership over the past seven years. Disney has called for Eisner's resignation in the past, but the idea was rejected by the board.
LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. has teamed with Disney Publishing Worldwide to bring Disney character to its LeapPad Learning System. Children place the Disney books on the LeapPad player, pop in the cartridge and touch any page with the Magic Pen to have LeapFrog read the words. These books also work with the LeapPad Plus Writing Learning System and the Quantum Pad Learning System.
Andy Bird leaves Warners TBS International to join Walt Disney as the new president of Walt Disney International effective January 12, 2004. The U.K. native will be based in Burbank, California.
From a strategic perspective, one of Disneys most significant long-term growth opportunities resides in markets outside of the United States, and it is crucial that the company continue to have a well-coordinated approach to business development around the world, said Michael Eisner, Disney chairman/ceo.
Marketing veteran Dennis Rice has been named svp, publicity for Buena Vista Pictures marketing and Heidi Trotta has been elevated to the position of svp, communications for The Walt Disney Studios.
Mickey Mouse celebrates his 75th anniversary today as one of the world's most beloved cultural icons. Ever since Mickey debuted in the first synchronized sound cartoon, STEAMBOAT WILLIE, on Nov. 18, 1928, he has remained in our consciousness while also presiding as the face of The Walt Disney Co. around the globe. Today, the company honored Mickey 75th by kicking off 18 months of celebration beginning at Walt Disney World Resort with the unveiling of 75 uniquely designed, 700-pound, 6-foot-tall Mickey statues -- a tribute to Mickey from an impressive group of friends. Chairman/ceo Michael D.
Due to "overwhelming consumer demand and retailer orders for Buena Vista Home Entertainment's WALT DISNEY TREASURES WAVE 3," the highly anticipated and collectible limited series has been pushed back from December 2, 2003 to May 18, 2004. Apparently Technicolor is backed up with manufacturing orders (including FINDING NEMO, THE LION KING and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN), because, according to an official statement, "demand for the four titles in the upcoming wave has exceeded BVHE's ability to manufacture enough [units]."