Posts filed under “Film”

Will Pixar Bring Magic Back to the Magic Kingdom?

If you missed it on Sunday, there was a terrific article on the very different way Pixar does Business in the NYT:

"Since 1995, with the release of "Toy Story," Pixar’s films have reinvented the art of animation, won 19 Academy Awards and grossed more than $3 billion at the box office. But the secret to the success of Pixar Animation Studios is its utterly distinctive approach to the workplace. The company doesn’t just make films that perform better than standard fare. It also makes its films differently — and, in the process, defies many familiar, and dysfunctional, industry conventions. Pixar has become the envy of Hollywood because it never went Hollywood.

More than a few business pundits have drawn parallels between the flat, decentralized "corporation of the future" and the ad-hoc collection of actors, producers and technicians that come together around a film and disband once it is finished. In the Hollywood model, the energy and investment revolves around the big idea — the script — and the fine print of the deal. Highly talented people agree to terms, do their jobs, and move on to the next project. The model allows for maximum flexibility, to be sure, but it inspires minimum loyalty and endless jockeying for advantage.

Turn that model on its head and you get the Pixar version: a tightknit company of long-term collaborators who stick together, learn from one another and strive to improve with every production. Consider the case of Brad Bird, writer and director of "The Incredibles," who spent the first decades of his career shuttling around the business as an ever-promising, never-quite-recognized animator. (He worked on "The Simpsons" and directed one feature, the critically acclaimed but commercial dud, "Iron Giant.") When Pixar recruited him, Mr. Bird went to work immediately on "The Incredibles," which went on to win two Academy Awards and a nomination for best original screenplay."

Given that most mergers are unsuccessful — at least when measured by how much value they create for shareholders — the big question is not whether Disney can integrate Pixar into their corporate culture, but vice-versa:  Can Disney adapt Pixar’s looser style and methods to their other creative departments; can they port that formula within the company?

There are definitely risks: The upside is bringing some magic back to the Magic Kingdom; the downside is killing a terrific franchise.

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Source:

How Pixar Adds a New School of Thought to Disney
WILLIAM C. TAYLOR and POLLY LaBARRE
NYT, January 29, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/business/yourmoney/29pixar.html

Category: Film

Will Disney Buy Pixar? Will Jobs Become Heir Apparent?

Incredibles

Today’s WSJ has a major, front page scoop: Disney is in advanced talks to buy Pixar:

"Walt Disney Co. is in serious discussions to buy Pixar Animation
Studios
after months in which the two animation giants have been
exploring ways to continue their lucrative partnership, according to
people familiar with the matter.

In the deal under discussion, Disney would pay a nominal premium to
Pixar’s current market value of $6.7 billion in a stock transaction
that would make Pixar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs
the largest individual shareholder in Disney, according to people
familiar with the situation. That would vault Mr. Jobs into an even
more influential place in the media world, where he already holds
tremendous sway as head of Apple Computer Inc. Yesterday, Apple
reported that net income nearly doubled in the latest quarter on huge
demand for its iPod music players. (See related article.)

People familiar with the situation caution that the talks are at a
sensitive stage and that the outcome isn’t certain, noting that other
options are possible."

Disney needs some sort of deal to guarantee its future stream of animated films. Whether the best structure is a takeover or some other relationship is subject to debate.      

What is especially curious about a Disney takeover of Pixar will be the potential role of Jobs in Disney. Disney CEO Robert Iger is 55, Jobs is 4 years his junior — might there be succession issues?

Recall that when Apple bought NeXT, they got Steve Jobs as a consultant. From that role, he eventually engineered his return as CEO. Will a Disney/Pixar deal give Jobs a springboard to eventually takeover running Disney?

I wonder if we will see history repeat itself . . .

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click for larger graphic

Pixdis0601_wsj_2

Chart courtesy of WSJ 

UPDATE:  January 20, 2006 5:56am

The NYT weighs in:

"And the merger could give Mr. Jobs a pivotal role, if he wants one, in helping shape the convergence of new media and old at Disney. "He’s one of the handful of people who has shown the ability to guide both technology and entertainment companies and that might be quite useful to Disney," said Bran Ferren, a former Disney Studios Designer and technologist, who is now co-chairman of Applied Minds, a technology consulting firm based in Glendale, Calif. "What he has that is rare is taste, and that’s a very valuable commodity if you can focus it and harness it."

Deal Could Offer New Disney Role for Apple Chief
By LAURA M. HOLSON and JOHN MARKOFF
Published: January 20, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/20/business/media/20pixar.html

 

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UPDATE: January 26, 2006 3:31pm

Slate joins team "Jobs as heir apparent at Disney"

Robert Iger vs. Steve Jobs
Only one man can control Disney. I know who I’m betting on.
Daniel Gross
Slate, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006, at 6:13 PM ET
http://www.slate.com/id/2134852

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Sources:
Walt Disney Is In Serious Talks To Acquire Pixar
Stock Deal for Animator Would Make Jobs Top Holder Of Entertainment Giant
MERISSA MARR and NICK WINGFIELD
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, January 19, 2006; Page A1
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113764205313450605.html

Is Disney/Pixar the sequel to Apple/NeXT ?                         
http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2004/01/pixar_to_disney.html

Jobs to become Heir Apparent at Disney?                        
http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2003/12/jobs_to_become_.html

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