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» AnimationNation   » General Discussion   » Disney in talks to buy CORE from Capt. Kirk!

   
Author Topic: Disney in talks to buy CORE from Capt. Kirk!
talos72
IE # 66
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This from Jim Hill Media:


quote:
Damage Control, Disney Style
Investment analysts disinvited? Olive branches extended to both Harvey Weinstein AND the Jim Henson Company? Jim Hill's heard some pretty amazing things about the Walt Disney Company's attempts to get some positive press going in the wake of the Pixar contract debacle.

Attention, investment analysts: If you put a "sell" order on Disney Company stock, be prepared to have the Mouse tell you "buy-buy."

Or rather, "bye-bye."

That's what Rich Greenfield, a well respected analyst with Kudlow and Kramer just found out last week. What with all the upheaval that's been going on with the Walt Disney Company over the past few months, Rich evidently felt that hanging onto Mouse House stock might be a pretty risky proposition for his company's clients. Which is why Greenfield recently put a "sell" recommendation in on Disney stock.

Well, imagine Rich's surprise when -- late last week -- he learned that Kudlow and Kramer had been disinvited from taking part in a Disney investors analysts meeting (which was supposed to take place sometime over the next two weeks while Michael Eisner is visiting the Walt Disney World Resort). But longtime Disney Company observers knew exactly what was up.

"The Mouse actually has a history of doing this, Jim," said an unnamed Wall Street investor. "Disney only wants investment analysts that they know are going to say positive things about their corporation -- who are only going to ask Eisner upbeat questions about what's been going on lately -- to take part in these meetings. Those typically are firms that have a 'buy' recommendation in on Disney stock."

"Investor analysts that have a 'sell' recommendation in on Disney stock -- like Kudlow and Kramer -- usually don't get an invite to sit down to talk with Michael." This investor continued. "That way, the Mouse gets to maintain some control over the news that comes out of their investor conferences. And -- believe you me, Jim -- what with Roy and Stanley calling for Eisner's head and last week's Pixar PR debacle, Disney's determined to whatever they can to put a positive spin on this upcoming conference."

Mind you, this sort of corporate spin control is typically frowned on by Wall Street types. Which is Disney is usually a whole lot subtler when it practices this sort of thing. But -- given that tight spot that Michael Eisner currently finds himself in -- subtly is something that Disney's CEO really can't afford right now.

Perhaps that's why -- on Friday -- word came out of Burbank that Eisner was allegedly sending olive branches in all sorts of directions. Reportedly making a call to Harvey Weinstein (Who's supposedly desperate to buy Miramax back from Disney) with the hope that these two Tinseltown titans might finally be to put aside their differences and make nice in front of the media.

Who else did Uncle Mike reportedly reach out to last Friday? Allegedly the Jim Henson Company. In a move that many saw as a desperate attempt by the Mouse to quickly fill the creative void left by Pixar's sudden departure, Disney representatives supposedly made a call to the Muppets. With the hope that these two entertainment companies might be able to re-open negotiations and (perhaps) quickly come to some sort of agreement.

Given that the Jim Henson Company is allegedly in the middle of a severe cash crunch (which is why Henson officials reportedly decide to shut down and sell off the corporation's NYC headquarters), Disney's offer couldn't have come at a better time. The only problem is ... The Henson kids still really dislike Uncle Mike. They remember all too well how rudely family members were treated by Disney's attorneys back when Mickey was trying to acquire the Muppets back in 1990. So the very idea that they may have to cut a deal with this guy (whether it's a full scale acquisition that Disney's angling after or just a production / distribution deal ... no one's willing to go on record just yet) just in order to keep JHC alive really sticks in the Henson family's craw. So this deal (which Eisner is said to be incredibly eager to make) looks like it might be a bit of a long shot.

Which may explain why Disney reps reportedly also made a call on Friday to William Shatner, the chief executive of CORE Technologies. "Who's CORE Technologies?" you ask. It's a Toronto-based computer animation studio that -- along with San Francisco-based Complete Pandemonium -- is producing "The Wild," a CG animated feature that Walt Disney Pictures hopes to release sometime in late 2006 / early 2007.

So why did Mickey allegedly call up Captain Kirk? Because Eisner (who supposedly want to hedge his bets, just in case Michael couldn't quickly come to terms with Henson) allegedly wanted to see if CORE Technologies was also available for acquisition. If it was, Disney was reportedly looking to quickly close a deal here too. So that Uncle Mike would have some good news to talk up at this month's investment analysts conference in Florida and/or next month's stockholders meeting in Philadelphia.

Does this tactic sound sort of familiar to any of you JHM readers? It should. It's exactly the same sort of thing that Disney Feature Animation did just three weeks ago in an effort to limit the amount of bad PR that the corporation was sure to receive once news about Disney's decision to close Feature Animation Florida finally broke. Less than 24 hours before the Mouse was to officially announce that it would be closing WDFA-F, Walt Disney Pictures' marketing department put out a press release -- announcing that Disney Feature Animation would be producing a CG feature based on William Joyce's award winning children's book, "A Day with Wilbur Robinson." All with the hope that the good news ("Wilbur Robinson") would outweigh the bad news (WDFA-F's closure). At least in the eyes of the press.

Given how poorly this tactic worked last month, I'm honestly surprised that Disney would dare to try it again so soon. But -- given that, in the wake of the Pixar press debacle, the Mouse has to do SOMETHING in order to give Eisner something positive to talk up at this month's investor analysts meeting and/or next month's shareholders meeting -- that's exactly why Disney's reps are supposedly scrambling to mend fences with Miramax, to see if they can come to some sort of quick deal with the Jim Henson Company and/or CORE Technologies.

Just so Michael will have something upbeat to talk about, which will allow him to gloss over Disney's Pixar problem ... at the meeting that Rich Greenfield just got disinvited to.

Of course, given the article I've just written, I don't imagine that I'm going to get an invite to a Disney investors analyst meeting anytime soon. Ah well. Such is life ...

Jim Hill Media

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Marcus Moore
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Ghads! This sound like so much desperate damage control! Especially in the face of the fact that the viability (and especially profitability) of CORE's THE WILD is very much unknown.

We all know that it's not going to be too long before the 3D bubble bursts, and as much as I'd like for a Toronto-based studio like CORE to succeed... When you start putting films like this in the hands of people like Steve Williams who, as talented as he may be, has't done any directing outside of 2nd unit on SPAWN...!

Disney, as it stands now, doesn't have a clue why Pixar is so successful. This is fully evident when Disney press releases contain statements like this about their upcoming releases, "These movies are all anticipated to break new ground in CG movie-making.". Once again, we find Disney's emphasis on THE TECHNICAL PROCESS and not the creative one, which is why Pixar movies are what they are. They type of movies produced in that kind of artist-oriented envirnment can't be bought, and it certainly can't be created in the enviornment which saw the end to traditional animation at Disney.

The whole thought process boggles my mind!

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mbaker
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I had no idea Shattner has his own company.
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Marcus Moore
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CORE has been around for a while. Shatner co-founded the company to produce FX for his show TEKWAR back in '94. It's also the company responsible for ANGELA ANNACONDA.

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rostrum
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someone tell Capt. Kirk what Disney did to DreamQuest...
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PonsonbyBritt
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Okay, so here's that David Stainton inter-office memo again:

Dear Colleagues,

Word is just in that Pixar and disney have ended their talks and that there will be no new agreement (please see the attached press release). Given Pixar's demands, this is good news for the company. It is also a great vote of confidence for feature animation--confidence in our talent, our slate, and our future. you all are awesome and ready for your close-up!

best,

david


So, doesn't it seem a bit odd that, on the one hand Disney is glad to be newly divorced from Pixar so they can show off what their own Feature Animation dept. can do again, while on the other hand they are in a panic rushing around trying to fill the void with another, as they say, "strategic partnership"? Well, what's the answer to that, Mr. Stainton? Your anxious public is ready for your close-up as you try to explain it to us. [Razz]

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webster
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Where exactly is Disney's in-house CG crew now? I know they had some folks at the Florida studio, and Dreamquest a.k.a. Secret Lab a.k.a. Dinosaur. But I thought those had been scaled down quite a lot.

"The Wild", if I'm not mistaken, had been called "Wild Life". I think it is Disney's attempt to beat Katzenberg at the old Hollywood "first to be second" trick. The Wild vs. Madagascar = Antz vs. Bugs Life.

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PHIL
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The Wild and Wild Life are completely different films. I'm sure someone else will be able to fill you in on the details. There was a post about this a few days ago but I'm too tired to look, sorry.
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webster
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You're right. I forgot. I had seen a couple of Wild Life tests on someone's reel when I was at PDI/ Dreamworks... very angular character design on a humanoid figure. I think one of the reasons that Steve Williams got the directing gig on the show was that he had directed some of the Blockbuster furry animal spots that Tippett had produced.

That being established, does anyone know if it is true that the storyline is somewhat similar to Madagascar - i.e.; pampered zoo animals coming to terms with their true nature in the wild?

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OFFBEAT
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Sounds like Disney is on a roll. Closing the florida studio.. getting rid of roy... messing up their pixar deal... Teacher's Pet.. now this!

What's next?

A $800 million buyout of Rosie O'Donnel's Boy George play? A Veggie Tales do-it-yourself instructional video on home circumcision? A reunion tour of New Kids on The Block ... on ICE?? On a BLOCK OF ICE???

They are a company in desperate need of an intervention.

Seriously.. i'm worried about them.

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oogieboogie
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Hey,

They had an almost CG studio in Florida. Maybe they need to revisit. What would make making movies in Toronto better than Orlando?

oogie

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slapmagic
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You don't have to pay them benefits.
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Marcus Moore
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It's Canadian dollars.

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PonsonbyBritt
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I guess they figure that the only guy who can replace Buzz "To infinity...and beyond!" Lightyear is Capt. James "To boldly go where no man has gone before!" Kirk...
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Eagle_One
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Must-
outsource-
jobs-! *gasp*-

Must-
take advantage of-
Canadian subsisidies-
and exchange rate-!

AAAAA!!!!

(Does Mr. Shatner have dual citizenship? That must come in handy.)

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PHIL
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quote:
A $800 million buyout of Rosie O'Donnell's Boy George play
...which went surprisingly well over here all things considering and is now on tour. I don't think it was ever really given much of a chance on Broadway.

[fix]

[ February 05, 2004, 04:31 PM: Message edited by: Account Administration ]

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Kevin G.
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quote:
Where exactly is Disney's in-house CG crew now? I know they had some folks at the Florida studio, and Dreamquest a.k.a. Secret Lab a.k.a. Dinosaur. But I thought those had been scaled down quite a lot.
The studio has indeed been "scaled down quite a lot" (to put it mildly), but a Disney Feature Animation crew still remains, hard at work in the Riverside building. Many traditional and CG veterans have lost their jobs over the years, but (contrary to popular belief) many traditional and CG veterans still remain... determined as ever to bring great work to the screen.

It's been a rough time, but you'll see things get back on the good foot relatively soon. Game on.

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Doodles
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(I promise this is the only time I will ever bring this subject up in this forum.)

Offbeat, I know what Disney's next move is: They're going to hire Janet Jackson's nipple to direct. [tipsy]

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