It was destiny after all that the curious, unfinished 1946 animated collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali be completed. Long considered a lost cause, DESTINO was recently produced by the Disney Co. and given a surprise world premiere June 2, 2003 at the opening of this year's Annecy International Animation Film Festival. The five-minute short will also screen June 3 on the lake at 10:00 pm, with free access to all Annecians.
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At long last, the animated short, Destino, surfaces. Bill Desowitz talks to Roy Disney about his personal quest to finish the artistic collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali.
Walt Disney has announced that Disney Stores president Peter Whitford is stepping down and the firm is looking to sell its 548-store chain with locations throughout the U.S. and Europe. The retail stores have struggled in the past few years and U.S. stores have been downsized from 522 to 387. In 2001, Disney sold all its stores in Japan to Oriental Land Co., which runs the Tokyo Disney Resort theme park. However, Disney says it will hold onto the six Disney Stores in Hong Kong, in anticipation of the opening of Hong Kong Disney in the beginning of 2006.
Why isn't there an Animation Hall of Fame that acknowledges the people behind our favorite animation? Martin Dr. Toon Goodman defines the hypothetical voting process and possible honorees in this month's column.
Disney Online, part of the Walt Disney Internet Group, has announced it will launch Disneys Toontown Online (www.toontown.com), the first massively multiplayer (MMP) 3D online game designed for kids and families, on June 2, 2003. To handle billing, customers will buy a Disney specialty card powered by AT&T Prepaid Web Cents technology, a new secure payment alternative for consumer purchases of online digital content. The cards will be available in retail stores starting in September 2003.
Twenty years after the first international Disney theme park opened in Tokyo and the Disney Channel debuted in the U.S., Disney will launch the Disney Channel Japan on cable and satellite in winter 2003/2004. Satellite platform Sky PerfecTV will offer the 24-hour channel as an á la carte option in winter 2003/4, with the channel also going into basic tier on Japanese cable networks around the same time.
Traditional animators' worst fears were realized as David Stainton, Disney's recently appointed head of feature animation, told the 525 animation employees gathered April 28, 2003 that he wants them to produce lush, classic fairy tales entirely on computers, according to a profile on the Disney exec in THE LOS ANGELES TIMES. Animation Website forums and chat rooms have been abuzz for some time about Disney possibly eliminating traditional animation altogether at its Burbank, California studio.
Online users can customize their own stationery goods with Disney characters via Disney Magic Artist online (www.disney.com/magicartist), recently launched by Disney Online, part of the Walt Disney Internet Group. The new site, powered by HP, allows visitors to design and print their own coloring pages, greeting cards, calendars, play sets and personalized pages for scrapbooks and photo albums. "Printables have always ranked among our most popular online attractions," said Ken Goldstein, evp/gm for Disney Online.
VARIETY reports that BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE director Adam Shankman has been brought on board to direct another Disney picture, ENCHANTED, a live-action/animated romantic fable about a fairytale princess banished from the cartoon kingdom who finds herself loving her live-action life as a real flesh-and-blood person in New York City. The cartoon prince who loves her and the evil queen who banished her follow the princess to the Big Apple to mix things up. Barry Josephson and Barry Sonnenfeld will serve as producers while Sunil Perkash will exec produce the script by Bill Kelly and rewritten by Rita Hsiao (TOY STORY 2) and Todd Alcott (ANTZ). Shankman is also attached to direct the live-action version of THE JETSONS for Warner Bros., produce Denise Di Novi and Hanna-Barbera Prods. Start date has not been set yet for the film about the futuristic family, which has been attached to many top producers and directors in Hollywood for more than 20 years.
Walt Disney Picture's gift for the start of spring and a safe film for parents to take their kids to is PIGLET'S BIG MOVIE, opening in theaters across America March 21, 2003. The second ever original animated Pooh feature created for the big screen, it follows in the successful footsteps of the 2001 release of THE TIGGER MOVIE. The Hundred Acre Wood characters have appeared in four previous theatrical featurettes, three Disney Video Premiere releases, four holiday-themed primetime television specials and two TV series.
Martin Weigold, CFO of Fox Kids Europe, will remain seated in his position for another two years in the game of musical chairs underway at the broadcaster ever since the Walt Disney Company bought a majority interest in FKE. Weigold has been with FKE since 1999. Previously Weigold was VP of finance at Walt Disney TV Int'l and served on the board of Super RTL, the German free-to-air broadcaster.
Animation industry veteran Max Howard has joined SecondSun Entertainment's board of directors. Howard is chairman/CEO/founder of Melwood Pictures, a Hollywood-based producer of animation and live-action films. Formerly he was president of feature animation at Warner Bros., a SVP at The Walt Disney Co. and, most recently, a producer at DreamWorks where he helped develop and produce SPIRIT, STALLION OF THE CIMARRON amongst the DreamWorks slate. While he was at Warner Bros., the studio produced THE IRON GIANT, QUEST FOR CAMELOT and SPACE JAM.
Disney director Steve Trenbirth joins Mad Cow Pictures founder Steve Sagovac as co-owner of the Australian animation company. Before directing JUNGLE BOOK 2, Trenbirth was animation director on Disneys Annie Award nominated LADY & THE TRAMP 2 and Annie Award winning LION KING 2. Mad Cow offers Flash and traditional animation services, specializing in character design/development, storyboards, Leica reels and is developing its own projects including OOSTEVEN: PLAYGROUND PRIVATE EYE and LEEROY & LOU-ANNE.
In a February 6, 2003 fourth quarter and fiscal year earnings teleconference, Steve Jobs confirmed that Pixar was in initial talks with other major motion picture studios, heightening the speculation that Pixar may not renew its partnership with Disney once the seventh film under the current deal is completed. Under the conditions of the existing agreement, Pixar had the right to begin negotiations after the fifth film was delivered.
The fur continues to fly in the Winnie the Pooh royalties case, as The Walt Disney Company has now asked a Superior Court judge to dismiss the nearly twelve year-old lawsuit. According to an AP report, Disney accused Stephen Slesinger Inc., the company that owns the Winnie the Pooh merchandising rights, of "pervasive misconduct and illegal activities," including stealing documents by rifling through Disney's garbage. Disney also said the company destroyed potential evidence in the case.
Action, adventure and pretty dresses, all in one game! THQ Inc. in association with Disney Interactive is in development on the game DISNEY PRINCESSES for Game Boy Advance. Scheduled for release in spring 2003, the game is based on the princess characters in Disney's animated films, and will feature six different stories that are based on each princess' respective fairytale.
As previously rumored, Thomas Schumacher has left his post as head of Disney Feature Animation to become president, Buena Vista Theatrical Worldwide, the Disney unit that oversees Disney's live stage productions around the world. David Stainton will replace Schumacher as president, Walt Disney Feature Animation. Both divisions will fall under the auspices of The Walt Disney Studios and will work directly with chairman and CEO Michael D.
In an effort to strategically streamline and organize its children's television animation programming, production and distribution under one business unit, Disney has moved Television Animation into the Disney Channel Worldwide division with former Television Animation executive vice president Barry Blumberg replacing David Stainton as president, Walt Disney Television Animation.
The Walt Disney Internet Group has entered into content arrangements with two European telecommunication companies to bring Disney Mobile branded wireless content to Italian and French consumers for the first time. As part of the agreement, TIM will be the first distributor in Italy for a range of Disney's wireless content including ring tones, logos, screensavers, wallpapers, picture messages and games, and Bouygues Telecom will bring branded wireless content to French consumers, beginning with ring tones and graphics.
William "Tex" Henson, who supervised animation on ROCKY & BULLWINKLE and was a force behind the popularity of CHIP 'N DALE, died Monday, December 2, 2002 of head injuries after being hit by a pickup truck in Dallas, Texas. He was 78 years old. Born in Dallas, Henson moved to California to join Disney Studios in 1944, where he was an animator on films such as SONG OF THE SOUTH, PECOS BILL and PETER AND THE WOLF. He was also one of the forces behind Chip & Dale's leap from bit players to outright stars. The chipmunk duo went on to star in 23 theatrical cartoons.
Tokyopop Releases Two New Cine-Manga Based On Disney Series. U.S. manga publisher TOKYOPOP continues its relationship with Disney with the release of two new Cine-Manga series for Disney's original television series LIZZIE MCGUIRE and KIM POSSIBLE. Each will launch as part of TOKYOPOP's developing Cine-Manga family, which currently includes CARDCAPTORS and the forthcoming AKIRA.
Based on the lackluster performance of its latest animated feature TREASURE PLANET, The Walt Disney Co. has lowered its fourth quarter earnings. Disney reported quarterly earnings of 11 cents per share and total income of $222 million. The company is now reporting earnings of 9 cents per share for the fourth quarter ended September 30 for a quarterly net income of $175 million. The adjustment changes its per-share earnings for the full year from 63 cents to 60 cents. TREASURE PLANET cost $140 million to make and has earned approximately $17 million in six days of release.
Among the notable animation home video releases for December 3 are Disney's LILO & STITCH and two excellent offerings in the Walt Disney Treasures collection, plus Miyazaki's MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO on DVD.
Disney chairman Michael Eisner outlined his strategy to revitalize his company in the December 9 issue of FORBES Magazine. Among other juicy tidbits, Eisner reveals that he has written a letter to the Disney board recommending a successor and implies that his choice is current president and COO Bob Iger. Eisner also details his revitalization plan for Disney, which may include selling The Mighty Ducks hockey team, 64 company-owned radio stations and other ancillary businesses with an aim to substantially reduce Disney's $13 billion debt over the next 18 months.