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Disney Buys Pixar 461

BlueDjinn writes to tell us that it appears a great deal of speculation over Disney's buyout of Pixar Animation Studios is in fact true. From the article: "[Pixar] is set to meet tomorrow to approve the company's $7bn (£3.9bn) takeover by Disney. The all-share deal will make Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, around $3.5bn and the single largest shareholder in Disney. Jobs created Pixar in 1986 when he paid $10m for the computer animations division of Lucasfilm, owned by Star Wars creator George Lucas."
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Disney Buys Pixar

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  • this sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hank Chinaski ( 257573 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @07:26AM (#14531872) Homepage
    Now we will see Nemo 2, Nemo 3 (dvd only release) and a Nemo tv series, with each one getting a little crappier. Same for all other Pixar films.

    Disney will milk the IP till the cow dies and will probably not fund development of new IP.

    1) Buy Pixar
    2) Milk IP
    3) Short-time profit
  • Re:this sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Voltageaav ( 798022 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @07:32AM (#14531888) Homepage
    As Jobs is still the largest stockholder of the company, how many changes will really take place?
  • by eobanb ( 823187 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @07:40AM (#14531905) Homepage
    The parallels here are almost amusingly similar to when Apple bought NeXT, ten years ago. Because so much of NeXT's advanced technology essentially displaced Apple's own struggling and dated codebase for the Mac OS to become Mac OS X, and Steve Jobs' own idea of a trimmed and stylish product line replaced the beige box Power Mac (insert four-digit number here), many industry analysts joked that 'NeXT had bought Apple for negative $400 million.'

    Look at what's happening now! Like NeXT, one of Steve's projects, was bought by Apple, and its technology incorporated into the company to revamp its product line, Pixar, again a project of Steve, may very well save Disney. For the purists that either hate to see Disney's long-lived traditional animation replaced by computer 3D rendering, or fear that Disney will mishandle Pixar's talent and resources and bring an unfortunate end to the latter studio's remarkably successful run of films, consider two facts: since this isn't a hostile takeover, clearly the folks in charge at Pixar, Steve Jobs included, believe that this will be as good for Pixar as it will be for Disney. They wouldn't be doing this if they thought that Disney was going to ruin them. Also consider now that Steve Jobs is the largest shareholder at Disney. That really carries some weight. Steve has a reputation for getting what he wants, and I also don't doubt that he made this deal without knowing he would have a significant say in Disney's direction.

    So really, guys, calm down! Just imagine the headline read, 'Pixar buys Disney for -$7 billion.'
  • the big question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nuckin futs ( 574289 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @07:41AM (#14531907)
    He now might have the single largest share in Disney, but does he still have enough shares to become a factor? Over at Pixar, he controlled a little over 50% of the share, which meant his vote overrides the other shareholders' votes. will it still be the same at Disney or will he become a non-factor in making decisions?
  • Pixar and Disney (Score:5, Insightful)

    by walnut_tree ( 905826 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @07:56AM (#14531943)
    This is quite a development! I suspect that Pixar will continue to operate (largely) autonomously, but there will undoubtedly be a good deal of knowledge sharing between Disney and Pixar. John Lasseter has often expressed his admiration for Disney's animators and their pioneering role in developing the medium. While there might seem to be a lot of enmity between the two companies, I suspect there's also a lot of mutual respect between the artists at both studios.

    People may not like the management decisions made by Disney (which have often dictated the direction of their films) but the company still employs a great many talented artists. And of course, Pixar continues to benefit from Disney's considerable marketing muscle - few other companies know how to so thoroughly milk their products for every cent they can get (and I don't say that as praise).
  • by bersl2 ( 689221 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @08:05AM (#14531962) Journal
    I'll pay two bucks for Steamboat Willie on my iPod

    NO! NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!

    Thoughts like this will lead to Disney convincing Congress to retroactively extend copyright for another 20 years.
  • Shit no... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stan Vassilev ( 939229 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @08:06AM (#14531963)
    Ah damn it I can't believe Jobs this. This is honestly dissapointing.

    The least thing is that those mergers are highly stressfull for the company being acquired, since you can expect some of the staff to be layed off in the reorganisation, but most importantly, Pixar was the true opposite of Disney in terms of spirit and phylosophy about creating quality content.

    This may leave lots of the artists in Pixar demoralized and maybe quit the company to open small independent studios.

    Disney is way to greedy and too huge for its own good. It just got bigger.
  • Disney empire (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @08:07AM (#14531967)
    Keep in mind that the Disney empire also includes ABC, ESPN, the network, as well as a bunch of movie studio (Touchstone, Miramax, Dimension) and record company imprints. Several of these operate somewhat autonomously, but Jobs will have some say in things as the single largest shareholder in Disney. Gates wants to control the living room. Jobs will control the living room.
  • Re:Might be OK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @08:22AM (#14532005)
    Disney has been evil from the beginning, even when it was being run by Walt himself.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Sunday January 22, 2006 @08:25AM (#14532009) Journal
    I should say that the golden age of CG movies are now over.

    That's a bit melodramatic, don't you think?

    Now come the crap movies...the "me too" movies.

    They're already here.. Didn't you hear about "Antz", the knock-off of "A Bug's Life"?

    CGI is new tool. Some great movies will be made with it, and a probably a lot of crap, too. Take a look at some of the lesser movies that were being made at the same time as Citizen Kane. Did they keep Orson Wells from making his masterpiece?

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @08:26AM (#14532014)
    If it weren't for the assholes at Disney (and the *AA), you'd already be able to have Steamboat Willie on your iPod, for free!
  • by namekuseijin ( 604504 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @08:32AM (#14532031)
    I don't think much of the success of Pixar is due to Steve Jobs.

    Rather, the main man over there is John Lasseter, the legendary animator directly responsible for some of the companies most memorable movies. Would Pixar be anywhere today wasn't it for the brilliant movies?

    Jobs is just this one guy who sees ahead better than most and invest in people who can make it happen, like Lasseter or Wozniak...
  • by garyboodhoo ( 945261 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @09:15AM (#14532143) Homepage

    Disney's not exactly known for it's ability to listen - to anyone. Not a matter of malevolence, just hubris. The company is a lot more than the animation division. In recent years they've made it pretty clear just how poorly animators and storytellers are regarded. Throwing money at the problem won't do a thing to change that.

    Best possible case - Pixar is treated as an independent division, like Touchstone for example.

  • by jacksonj04 ( 800021 ) <> on Sunday January 22, 2006 @09:32AM (#14532188) Homepage
    They *used* to employ people to hand-draw cartoons. They used to be bloody good quality too, just take a look at something like Beauty and the Beast. Then compare it to Tarzan or Lilo & Stitch, and you'll see that Disney clearly no longer employ as much talent as they did before.
  • by openfrog ( 897716 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @10:00AM (#14532265)
    Jobs is just this one guy who sees ahead better than most and invest in people who can make it happen

    Isn't that precisely what the role of a CEO is?
  • Pooh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @10:20AM (#14532334)
    My son is two and a half and he's very much into animated movies. Nemo, Shrek (1+2), Toy Story (1+2), Winnie the Pooh (tons)

    Just an aside: my daughter is a bit older, and I picked up a copy of "The House at Pooh Corner" for her. It (the original book by AA Milne) was so much better than the simpering Disneyfied versions you see in hundreds of illustrated books. Easy to read, yet full of subtle humour and wordplay. This I've found is a general rule: Disney cartoons are fine, but avoid their literature; go to the source.

  • Re:Considering (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bogado ( 25959 ) <> on Sunday January 22, 2006 @10:57AM (#14532476) Homepage Journal
    I actually agree with you, antz and bug's life are two very diferent movies, with one thing in common they both use ants and insects as characters. I like them both, but in defending the grand-parents, I could bet that antz only got out of the paper because dumb big money "we should do only what is certain" producers thougth that this was kind of going in the same direction others (pixar) are going to.

    The people who give the "green light" to movies are business people, much like those suits you see in your company and I would bet that with very little exceptions they are dumb, very little creative and understand very little of what people really want to see. If we do get an ocasional very good blockbuster like the lord of the rings or the spiderman series and other is only because there are very good directors, screen players and other people that are very briliant and are willing to figth those guys.
  • by bwalling ( 195998 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @11:20AM (#14532582) Homepage
    Steve Jobs will begin designing rides at Disneyland. You know there will be an acid trip ride, something Alice and Wonderland style. I can't wait.

    You mean like Mr Toad's Wild Ride?
  • Re:Might be OK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JayBlalock ( 635935 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @12:07PM (#14532841)
    Don't be too excited. Bob Iger was Eisner's little lackey for more than a decade, and that's his biggest claim to fame. He got the job mainly because he and Eisner had squeezed out (or pissed off) everyone else more qualified.

    I think the simple fact of being Not Eisner will give him some help in dealing with those that Eisner alienated, but I'm expecting no major shifts in Disney policy or much of a reduction in its general trend towards heat death.

  • Re:Actually. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @12:59PM (#14533102) Journal
    At the end of the day, Disney has no class. At one time it did have a lot of charm, and that made up for the lack of class, but under the last decade of Eisner's rule, it lost its charm, so that now it's a tacky, charmless uber-company that makes shitty, low-brow, uninspired entertainment. The real question here is whether or not Pixar will be left alone to do what it does best, or whether the imagination-stunted accountants that run Disney will indeed simply try to milk it.
  • by SteeldrivingJon ( 842919 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @01:04PM (#14533129) Homepage Journal

    "In recent years they've made it pretty clear just how poorly animators and storytellers are regarded. Throwing money at the problem won't do a thing to change that."

    No, but throwing Steve Jobs at it as the largest stockholder, would certainly change that.

    I don't think Jobs would tolerate that kind of fuckwittedness in middle management. I wouldn't be surprised if Disney undergoes a significant purge.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @01:23PM (#14533241)
    That may be true now, but I'm sure that in 1942 (i.e., 1928 + 14 years, the length the copyright term was was originally intended to be) it would have been much easier and cheaper to make a high-quality copy. Moreover, since everyone would be free to have a copy then, we'd have plenty of backups today.
  • by sorak ( 246725 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @01:47PM (#14533367)

    Nobody deserves a few billion bucks more than he does, the way I figure it. If he manages to pull Disney out of their spiral of mediocrity, he'll have earned every penny...

    And he's going to do that by handing them a better company and allowing them to show their logo at the beginning of each film?

  • by lastchance_000 ( 847415 ) * on Sunday January 22, 2006 @01:47PM (#14533369)
    But they can't vote yet. At least not officially.
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @02:52PM (#14533713)
    I'm sure that in 1942 (i.e., 1928 + 14 years, the length the copyright term was was originally intended to be) it would have been much easier and cheaper to make a high-quality copy. Moreover, since everyone would be free to have a copy then, we'd have plenty of backups today

    U.S. copyright was extended to 28 years in 1831 and the option to renew extended to 28 years in 1909. []

    Film conservation in the U.S. begins with New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1935. Iris Barry: American Film Archive Pioneer [] "It is estimated that 75% of all silent films and 50% of all sound films made before 1950 are lost." (1992)

    In 1942 the only safe and (marginally) practical means for home distribution was 8 and 16 mm projection. A steep step downward from a 35 mm nitrate master. Those of you who remember Blackhawk Films [] will know the cost of building a significant collection.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @03:18PM (#14533822)
    If the current copyright laws had been in effect in the 30's and 40's, much of the Disney archive wouldn't exist, having been ripped off from 19th-century authors like the Brothers Grimm

    What matters, ultimately, is Disney's unique interpretation of the story. Might as well complain about Rogers and Hammerstein's take on "Cinderella" or Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride." "Tales as old as rhyme" and all of that.

  • by shinma ( 106792 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @03:36PM (#14533917) Homepage

    Lilo & Stitch is an excellent movie, and it even went back to using the watercolor backgrounds that made Disney's movies so lush.

    Lilo & Stitch is, if anything, the last real Disney movie. It was made by a small team out on their own, without any of the beaurocratic nonsense that ruined movies like Treasure Planet. It's how Disney SHOULD make movies. It's too bad they've tried to run the Lilo & Stitch property into the ground with the sequels and TV series...
  • by KwKSilver ( 857599 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @03:38PM (#14533935)
    For corporation-authored works, the term is 120 years from the date of their creation, regardless of whether the corporation "dies" or not.
    Only 120 yers for corporate copyright? The poor things, how dreadfully unfair! They should divert a river of cash and and army of crack-whores to Washinton D.C. to "fix" that. Where's Abramof when he'd needed? Singing or somthing?
  • by Basehart ( 633304 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:19PM (#14534115)
    I could never figure out why they got involved in the news business by creating MSNBC.

    Why not buy the Cartoon Channel instead and sell Xbox 360's, Napster and Rio MP3 players all day long for free!

    It must have seemed like a great idea in 95 when the Microsoft Total World Domination Machine was in full power. Taking on CNN and Fox News in a battle royale must have seemed like fun to King Gates.

    But to have it all fall apart [] at a time when their arch rival is pulling the World's biggest rug from under Microsoft in super slow motion must really hurt like hell!
  • by ccmay ( 116316 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:24PM (#14534135)
    What matters, ultimately, is Disney's unique interpretation of the story.

    Well of course, I am not objecting to Disney's right to do that. However, if the shoe were on the other foot, and I tried to do my own "unique interpretation" of Mickey Mouse, I'd hear from Disney's lawyers before sundown.

    Every time Mickey Mouse gets almost old enough to fall into the public domain, Disney has paid off politicians to the tune of millions of dollars, and in return they have gotten repeated extensions of the duration of copyright protection. I am just pointing out the hypocrisy of their position, and noting that much of what they have done in the past would have been illegal if the copyright protections they have received in recent times were in effect in those days.


  • by thparker ( 717240 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:29PM (#14534166) Homepage
    How can that be? What about the piece I own? It's only worth a few thousand but until they tear that stock from my fingers they won't be sole owner.

    I'm sure that, since you own stock, you're joking and do understand what will happen. But in case anyone doesn't understand this --

    Disney wants to acquire Pixar. Pixar's board (who nominally represent the shareholders) have said they're cool with this. There will be a shareholder vote. Since people in favor of this deal own A LOT of the Pixar stock, the deal will be approved and your Pixar stock will go away. In its place, you will be given Disney stock. You really won't have any say in the matter.

  • Super Q (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:43PM (#14534245) Homepage
    And Jobs did it with one thing: Quality. And Marketing. Ok, two things.

    They invested a ton of effort to get an easy human computer interface, which got them the MAC. Jobs re-did that success to a degree with NeXT, which didn't pay off right away but got him even more money when NeXT becamse OSX. He bought Pixar while it was struggling, and helped drive it into one of the most creative, quality-focused entertainment companies in the world. The iPod was designed and re-designed and recieved constant feedback from Jobs himself... when was the last time you heard about Ballmer getting dirty in the trenches? Same with iTunes.

    Years ago Jobs and Apple realized that quality and clarity commanded a premium, and have been working dilligently to create and milk that. MS's strategy has been to crush the competition from a business legal standpoint. The former has made Jobs and Apple welcome in new areas and businesses, while the latter leaves Microsoft having an uphill battle every time it enters a new market.

    MSNBC was an interesting idea, but it didn't do anything better or more original than the competition.

    I'm glad to see that sometimes quality is rewarded.
  • Re:this sucks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 7Prime ( 871679 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @05:20PM (#14534442) Homepage Journal
    True. On the other hand, at the time NeXT bought Apple there was a lot more than computers to Apple. Newton PDAs, clone licensing...I'm not suggesting that the same will happen with Disney, but perhaps some spinning-off might occur.

    Hardly, I'll remind you that the Newton was a total marketting failour, the clone licensing probably hurt Apple, and their public image more than helped it. Apple were ALL about desktop/laptop computers at that time Newton was a tiny exception that never took off.

    Now look it them today: they're at the forefront of the portable audio market, the biggest digital media distributer on the planet, the industry standard for video software (now with the new FCC requirements regarding closed captioning, even more so, since they're the only game in town that supports closed captioning). I'm not going to say that this was ALL Steve, but they wouldn't have gotten here without him. They're much less of a computer company now than before Steve was on board.

  • by MacDust ( 714898 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @05:21PM (#14534449)
    It is possible that this could turn out the same way it did when Apple bought NeXT. Steve Jobs became the CEO. NeXT has been running Apple since the purchase, basically. Perhaps Pixar will be in charge of Disney. I can't see Jobs giving up his role at Pixar unless he has some power at Disney.
  • by Fulcrum of Evil ( 560260 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @05:33PM (#14534500)

    For human-authored works, the term is life + 70 years. For corporation-authored works, the term is 120 years from the date of their creation, regardless of whether the corporation "dies" or not.

    Sure, after the Sonny Bono act extended the copyright. It used to be somewhat shorter (80 years, I think). What I don't get is how Congress justifies retroactive extension of copyright. Copyright on new stuff I can see, but changing the rules of the game like this is indefensible. It runs against the stated purpose of Copyright: those works are already made. Extending their term won't encourage someone to make more, nor will it enrich the public domain.

  • by burndive ( 855848 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @05:56PM (#14534601) Homepage
    It's not the cost to consumers that bothers me, it's the control and the restrictions on derivative works. If I want to use part of steamboat willie in my music video, I can't do so without lisencing the footage from Disney. Works that are that old and have survived are a part of our cultural heritage, and they need to be liberated from the deathgrip that the original creators have gained based on a constitutional provision to grant them temporary monopolies in order to foster the arts.

    Lengthy terms of copyright tend to restrict the creation of new works, particularly dirivative works, which it turns out most Disney movies are.
  • Re:Really? How so? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jaseparlo ( 819802 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @07:21PM (#14534975) Homepage
    Go and have a history lesson youngling. The activity of unions in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century brought you many of the things you presume to call rights in the modern era. Unions in the 30s were fighting against what would these days often be considered criminal neglect and exploitation. Your bias against modern unions is (probably) based on a very different kind of unionism to what Uncle Walt was against during the depression.
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Monday January 23, 2006 @12:41AM (#14536422)
    Have you been sleeping for twenty years? :) Apple is one of the most recognizable brands on the planet. They've always had a major role in media production and once again are dominating many production areas, besides 3D. Suddenly happened with the iMac back in 98..

    Zzzz -whazzit- I'm AWAKE! What did you say?

    Oh. Well, there's a big difference between making cameras and making movies. Yeah, Apple has affected media production by selling tools, but now it's poised to cross the boundary in a somewhat more significant way than Buzzy Lightspeed, or whatever the character was called.

    Jobs/Apple makes a brand new and very proprietary medium; Miniature TV sets. Jobs/Disney owns a behemoth of distribution plus a hundred and one property-rights. Hence, Mickey Mouse will be on iPods everywhere. Complete with adverts. Go, America!

    I figure that, barring unforseen weirdness, it should only be a very short matter of time before the Pods will be part of the cell nets, with people eager to plunk down cash for high-speed access via microwaves. And then I'll have to shoot myself.

    The prospect of a fast-cooked society of people walking around with their eyes and ears filled with the tender messages of the Beast at all times makes me feel all gushy inside, --though not so much in a warm & fuzzy manner as in a 'filled with worms' sort of way. I find it fitting that Apple and Disney are positioning themselves to be largely responsible fuzzing out the minds of the entire Western populace with electronic cotton candy. They're both happy-happy-bliss-bliss kinds of companies with too much shiny plastic and annoying function-removing fool-proofing. "Don't worry about our proprietary rights management system. You just listen to your music and we'll take care of everything for you."


    And who the heck likes wearing head-phones anyway? No, seriously. . !

    I never did like using Walkmans. They were certainly cool devices, but I could not stand having an artificial wall of noise separate me from reality. I only used my walkman because it seemed like the right thing to do after spending $200 on a portable tape player, but honestly. . . who actually feels good walking around in the world with their hearing deliberately rendered useless? Drove me bananas.


The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.