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Will ‘Nemo' Help Keep Disney and Pixar Together?

16 Nov, 2003 By: Kurt Indvik

For all the talk over the past months about Disney and Pixar wrangling back and forth, and big egos bumping up against each other, etc., I can't imagine Disney not doing whatever it takes to keep that relationship going, and I am sure when the rubber meets the road soon, it will.

All one has to do is consider Pixar's latest effort, Finding Nemo, to recognize that its CG animated magic, combined with strong story lines, has had an enormous impact on Disney's fortunes. Adding to the more than $335 million in domestic box office, Disney claims 17 million total units sold in Nemo's first week on retail shelves and, as you read this, maybe we'll be hearing about other home video record numbers being set by the little fish that could.

Industry wags were saying Nemo success at video might have a significant impact on Pixar's attitude toward Disney, so one would certainly have to figure its attitude is pretty good right now. In a quarterly financial report filed last week, Pixar said it expects Finding Nemo might sell between 24 million and 25 million units in home video by the end of the fourth quarter.

Whatever the number turns out to be, with the Toy Story franchise, Monsters, Inc., and A Bug's Life, it's clear the Pixar/Disney relationship is a clear winner one would be loathe to break up.

That's why Universal keeps a firm grip on its handshake with DreamWorks. The studio that brought us Shrek, The Ring, Minority Report, and co-productions with Universal of Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Seabiscuit and this month's Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, to name but a few, is a highly valued partner with Universal, delivering product and co-producing product worth more than one-quarter of Universal Studios Home Video's annual revenue in 2002, according to Video Store Magazine market research. So it's no surprise Vivendi Universal Entertainment announced last week it has extended through October 2010 an exclusive worldwide distribution deal for all DreamWorks SKG theatrical and home video product.

It will be interesting to see if Disney is able to keep an equally firm grip on its deal with Pixar.

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