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Iger: 2009 ‘Awful’ Year for Disney Live-Action Movies

Iger pointed to Up as a bright spot

By : Erik Gruenwedel | Posted: 09 Dec 2009

Following a fiscal year that saw studio entertainment operating income and revenue fall 84% and 16%, respectively, Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Bob Iger said the studio would focus primarily on Disney/Pixar projects going forward.

Speaking Dec. 9 at an investor forum in New York, Iger said recent changes to studio operations, including new studio president Rich Ross appointing home entertainment president Bob Chapek to oversee overall distribution, were intended to restructure the unit from the ground up.

“The change we made at the studio was designed to improve the studios’ fortunes creatively,” Iger said. “So, it starts really there.”

He described Disney’s live-action efforts in 2009 as “awful,” unlike Disney/Pixar’s Up, which Iger said was a great movie.

“But, we haven’t had enough of them,” the CEO said. “You have to get it right creatively, which we have not done.”

Consequently, Iger said the studio would be more conservative on the number of films made, including focusing more on branded films and much less on non-Disney branded films, including Touchstone and Miramax.

He said the recent live-action deal with DreamWorks SKG allows Disney the opportunity to leverage its global infrastructure, including marketing and promotions, without putting additional capital as risk.

“The value to our company of a really high-quality, successful Disney/Pixar film, or, down the road, Marvel film is going to be a lot greater over time than any value we could create from non-Disney branded or non-Pixar or non-Marvel film,” Iger said. “That’s where we’re headed.”

The CEO reiterated his concern for packaged-media sales, believing a downturn in the economy and flood of product on the market have contributed to the decline in disc sales.

“I think the collection phenomenon, when VHS converted to DVD and people put together big home libraries, has slowed significantly,” Iger said. “That is a trend we see occurring regardless of the economy, [and] we don’t see it slowing down.”

He said trends in home entertainment mirror those in video games, which he said continue to see a migration from high-profile physical console games to more casual games via electronic distribution.

“It doesn’t necessarily change the game per se, but it certainly changes how the game is sold,” Iger said.

The CEO said Disney would approach the game industry from a variety of fronts, including self-publishing the new Toy Story game.


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