Disney film studio chief Ross steps down Written and compiled by Ronald Grover and Lisa Richwine from Reuters April 20, 2012
Rich Ross stepped down as chairman of Walt Disney Co's movie studio after a less than three-year run that included the release of "John Carter," one of the biggest flops in recent Hollywood history.
Ross, named to the job in October 2009, was never able to duplicate the success he enjoyed as president of the Disney Channel, where he was credited with creating monster franchises that included "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana."
"I no longer believe that the Chairman role is the right professional fit for me," Ross told his staff in an email.
Disney will not immediately name a new head for its studio, a source familiar with the matter said.
Rich Ross: Happier Days
In a statement, Disney CEO Bob Iger said: "For more than a decade, Rich Ross' creative instincts, business acumen and personal integrity have driven results in key businesses for Disney. ... I appreciate his countless contributions throughout his entire career at Disney and expect he will have tremendous success in whatever he chooses to do next."
As the company's studio chief, Ross oversaw production of "John Carter," an expensive science-fiction epic whose development started years earlier. The film's costs eventually ballooned to more than $250 million.
Disney said in March it expected the film to lose about $200 million and to saddle its studio with $80 million to $120 million in operating losses.
Ross "was a superstar at the Disney Channel, and the results at the studio have not been exceptional," said Evercore Partners analyst Alan Gould. Still, he said Ross' exit was a surprise given his earlier success in Disney's cable business.
Ross joined Disney Channel in 1996 as a programming and production executive and was promoted to president of the cable channel in 2004. His success at the Disney Channel made him a rising star in the company and eventually led to his being hand-picked by Iger to replace long-time chairman Dick Cook, whom Iger forced out, as head of its film division.
Ross had few big hits during his tenure. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" was a global smash but part of an established franchise. He also made waves when he picked a Hollywood outsider, M.T. Carney, to run film marketing for Disney. She left the studio earlier this year just as "John Carter" was completed.
Two weeks before his departure, Ross hosted a lavish Hollywood premiere for "The Avengers," a big-budget special effects film featuring action stars from Disney's Marvel subsidiary.
"Avengers" is expected to be one of the year's biggest hits. Opening weekend sales may reach $155 million in the United States and Canada, according to Boxoffice.com.
For investors, the departure of Ross should have little impact, analyst Gould said. Disney's results are driven by its much-larger theme-park and cable network businesses.
Disney shares were up 34 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $42.42 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Disney Animator, Glen Keane Leaves the Studio Written and compiled by The Deadline Team from Deadline Hollywood March 26, 2012
Veteran animator Glen Keane resigned Friday from Walt Disney Animation Studios. With nearly four decades of Disney experience, Keane worked on title characters for Disney movies including The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Aladdin and Tarzan and more recently, Rapunzel, in Tangled. Earlier in his career at Disney, he worked on The Rescuers and Pete’s Dragon. Keane emailed the notice of his resignation to studio coworkers. Here is the complete text:
Glen Keane: Disney Animator from 1977 - 2012
Dear Colleagues and Friends of the Walt Disney Animation Studio, After long and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to leave Disney Animation.
I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate art form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist it’s siren call to step out and discover them.
Disney has been my artistic home since September 9,1974. I owe so much to those great animators who mentored me—Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston—as well as to the many other wonderful people at Disney whom I have been fortunate to work with in the past nearly 38 years.
Over these four decades I have seen so many changes, but the one thing that remains the same is that we all do this because we love it.
I am humbled and deeply honored to have worked side by side so many artists, producers and directors during my career here at Disney, and I am tremendously proud of the films which together we have created. I will deeply miss working with you.
With my most sincere and heartfelt good wishes for your and Disney’s continued artistic growth and success,
Disney confirmed Keane’s exit with this statement: “After an incredible 38-year career as an animator, storyteller, and filmmaking pioneer with Walt Disney Animation Studios, Glen Keane has decided that the time has come to take the next step in his personal exploration of the art of animation. As much as we are saddened by his departure, we respect his desires and wish him the very best with all his future endeavors.”
Disney Legend, Robert Sherman, passes away at 86 Written and compiled by Gary J. Chambers from The Mouse Lounge March 5, 2012
It is with great sadness I must acknowledge the passing of one of the world's great lyricists. Today, Robert B. Sherman, half of the song writing duo, "The Sherman Brothers" passed away. Rest in peace, Bob. Your beautiful words touched the world. You and Walt can now together... feed the birds, tuppence a bag.
Robert B. Sherman (1925-2012)
The news was announced by his son, Jeff on his Facebook page.
My Dad, Robert B. Sherman, passed away tonight in London. He went peacefully after months of truly valiantly fending off death. He loved life and his dear heart finally slowed to a stop when he could fight no more.
I will write more about this incredible man I love and admire so much when I am better rested and composed. He deserves that.
In the meantime, please say a prayer for him. As he said, he wanted to bring happiness to the world and, unquestionably, he succeeded. His love and his prayers, his philosophy and his poetry will live on forever. Forever his songs and his genius will bring hope, joy and love to this small, small world.
Robert Bernard Sherman was born on December 19, 1925 in New York City. His parents, Russian-Jewish immigrants, Rosa & Al Sherman paid Robert's hospital delivery costs with a royalty check which had arrived that day. As a youth, Robert Sherman excelled in intellectual pursuits, taking up the violin and piano, painting and writing poetry. Following seven years of frequent cross-country moves, the Shermans finally settled down in Beverly Hills, California.
Throughout his years at Beverly Hills High School, he wrote and produced radio and stage programs for which he won much acclaim. At age 16, he wrote Armistice and Dedication Day, a stage play centered on contemporary 1940s Americans that showed how their lives were inextricably changed following the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. The play yielded thousands of dollars for War Bonds and earned a special citation from the War Department.
In 1943, Sherman obtained permission from his parents to join the army a year early, at age 17. In early April 1945, he led half a squad of men into Dachau concentration camp, the first Allied troops to enter the camp after it had been evacuated by the fleeing German military only hours earlier. On April 12, 1945, the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt died, Sherman was shot in the knee forcing him to walk with a cane ever since.
Sherman and his brother Richard began writing songs together on a challenge from their father, Al Sherman, a successful popular songwriter in the "Tin Pan Alley" days.
In 1958, Sherman founded the music publishing company, Music World Corporation. That same year, the Sherman Brothers had their first "Top Ten" hit with "Tall Paul", sung by Annette Funicello.
The success of this song yielded the attention of Walt Disney who eventually hired the Sherman Brothers as Staff Songwriters for Walt Disney Studios. While at Disney, the Sherman Brothers wrote what is perhaps their most recognized song: "it's a small world (after all)" for the 1964 New York World's Fair.
In 1965, the Sherman Brothers won 2 Academy Awards for Mary Poppins. Since Mary Poppins' premiere, Robert B. Sherman has subsequently earned 9 Academy Award nominations, 2 Grammy Awards, 4 Grammy Award nominations and 23 gold and platinum albums.
Their numerous other Disney and Non-Disney top box office film credits include The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970), The Parent Trap (1961), The Parent Trap (1998), Charlotte's Web (1973), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977), Snoopy, Come Home (1972), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) and Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland (1992).
In 2002, Sherman moved from Beverly Hills to London, England where he continued to write and paint.
A new Disney and Cameron Mackintosh production of Mary Poppins: The Stage Musical made its world premier at the Prince Edward Theatre in December 2004 and features the Sherman Brothers classic songs.
In June 2005, Robert B. Sherman was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame with his brother. Since Robert's move, the brothers continued to collaborate on various musical plays as well as a feature film musical which incorporates their original story, song score and screenplay, "Inkas the Ramferinkas".
Sherman married Joyce Ruth Sasner on September 27, 1953. Joyce and Robert Sherman have four children: Laurie Shane, Jeffrey Craig, Andrea Tracy and Robert Jason. Dr. Laurie Sherman is married to Dr. John Evans and they have three children including Joshua Abraham, Sarah Aurora and Amelia Elizabeth. Jeff Sherman is married to Wendy Liebman and they have two children; Alex and Ryan. Joyce Sasner Sherman died on October 16, 2001.
‘John Carter’ fan trailer creates excitement for Disney film. by Debra Peterson from Examiner.com February 23, 2012
Promotion for Disney's "John Carter" kicked into its final stages with the Feb. 22 premiere of Andrew Stanton's adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "A Princess of Mars." While film's reception at the premiere was positive, the same can't be said of its marketing campaign.
John Carter (2012)
Disney's efforts have been regarded by both industry insiders and fans as lackluster, but a fan trailer and website has generated increasing interest in the movie.
The "John Carter" fan trailer, made and released by The "John Carter" Files, is a labor of love not unlike Stanton's own project. The site re-uses the footage, images and information Disney had officially released to produce an engaging fan trailer.
Why? To start a grassroots social media campaign to promote the film and Burroughs' work. What's more, in just one trailer The "John Carter" Files has succeeded in a way Disney has not, despite the studio's release of a teaser trailer, a Super Bowl trailer, photos and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
And what a trailer it is. The fan trailer offers viewers a clearer sense of the movie's plot and placement in the sci-fi genre; stronger, better developed characters and relationships, and upped suspense and action. Plus, the trailer uses stunning visuals, from a look at Barsoom (Mars) and its native inhabitants to a shirtless Taylor Kitsch in the title role.
It also acknowledges Stanton's work with "Finding Nemo" and "Wall-E," subtly promoting the film as being in the hands of someone who knows how to tell a good story that looks good.
There's adventure, romance, epic scale and - yes - even emotion in this trailer. All in two minutes. By using the same materials Disney had used in trailers that received a lukewarm response.
Responses to the fan trailer have been consistently positive, with YouTube posters claiming to have had no interest in the film until seeing the unofficial teaser. Significantly, many of these posters also claim to be familiar with, and fans of, Burroughs' work.
These responses are not isolated, either. Mainstream media has picked up on the fan trailer, praising it as the type of marketing Disney needed to do - and didn't. Wired referred to it as "far more engrossing than the actual studio trailers we've seen to date." Hollywood Reporter said, "This is the kind of trailer that should have been out there in the first place." And Entertainment Weekly says the fan trailer could "even convert skeptics."
But the biggest supporter of the site's efforts might very well be Stanton himself. While the director is notoriously against trailers that provide too many spoilers, Stanton tweeted a link to The "John Carter" Files trailer on YouTube, writing, "Great fan trailer! They get it! #GoBarsoom."
With Stanton essentially affirming the fan trailer reflects the movie, or at least the movie as he see it, are you more inclined to see "John Carter"?
The movie stars Taylor Kitsch, Willem Dafoe, Lynn Collins, Thomas Haden Church, Samantha Morton, James Purefoy, Dominic West, Bryan Cranston and Mark Strong.
“John Carter” opens in 3D, 2D and IMAX 3D theaters on March 9, 2012.
Gorgeous 'Arrietty' Will Charm Children and Parents Alike
by Alonso Durald from The Wrap February 18, 2012
If you love animation, you owe it to yourself to check out the extraordinary productions of Studio Ghibli. Ask the folks at Disney and Pixar, and even they will tell you that the Japanese company behind such contemporary classics as “Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke,” “Pom Poko,” “Ponyo” and “My Neighbor Totoro” are making cartoons that rank among the best ever made.
The Secret World of Arietty (2011)
That high level of quality continues with “The Secret World of Arrietty,” a lovely adaptation of “The Borrowers” that accomplishes the nearly-impossible feat that almost all Ghibli movies pull off: It’s a movie that will simultaneously excite the imaginations of children while charming and delighting adults.
Visually, “Arrietty” pulls out all the stops, from its warm and compelling character animation to its stunning evocation of nature; whether it’s an expansive view of a sun-dappled meadow or a close-up of our diminutive heroine making her way across a lawn while hiding under a leaf, the Ghibli artists show us the world the way Matisse once painted it.
Not that the film sacrifices narrative for all this beauty, mind you. The screenplay, adapted from Mary Norton’s beloved novel “The Borrowers” (and its sequels) by master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, takes a familiar story and turns it into a lovely fable about family, friendship and interdependence.
Arrietty (voiced by Bridgit Mendler in the U.S. dub) is one of a family of tiny people, known as “borrowers,” that live inside the walls of a country house. Her father, Pod (Will Arnett), goes exploring every night and brings home little things that that the “human beans” of the house will never miss but which are essential to the borrowers. Over the objections of her nervous mother Homily (Amy Poehler), Arrietty joins Pod for her first venture into the house.
Lacking Pod’s experience, Arrietty is quickly spotted by young Shawn (David Henrie), a sickly boy who has been sent to live with his aunt (Gracie Poletti) in anticipation of his impending heart surgery, because his parents are too busy with work to give him the attention he needs. Shawn learns that his mother and grandfather suspected that there might be little people in the house, and even built them an elaborate dollhouse complete with a working kitchen, but that neither of them ever got to see the borrowers.
Shawn tries to become friends with Arrietty, but the borrowers know that, once they have been spotted by humans, it’s time to move away. And that credo appears to be justified once housekeeper Hara (Carol Burnett) captures Homily in a jar and calls a pest-control company to find the other little ones.
Whether it’s humans, cats, or crows, “Arrietty” provides plenty of potential perils for its pint-sized protagonists, and the moments of danger nicely balance out the warmth and sweetness of the various familial relationships. We feel for the neglected Shawn and his need to find a friend, but it’s also apparent that the borrowers don’t have the luxury of trusting him, no matter how kind he is.
The U.S. cast is terrific — Mendler and Henrie are both products of the Disney Channel teen star factory, but their performances hit the sweet spot, neither too broad nor too bland. Burnett, as one might expect, mines Hara for comic gold, while the usually-hilarious Arnett discovers a hitherto undemonstrated gravitas in his gravelly voice.
(Here’s hoping Disney, the U.S. distributor of the Ghibli movies, eventually puts out a DVD with not only the original Japanese soundtrack but also the British dub, which features Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong and Olivia Colman.)
Among animation buffs, the release of a new Studio Ghibli movie is as much cause for celebration as a new Pixar title, but you don’t have to be a cartoon nerd to love these anime imports. If you’re already a Ghibli fan, “Arrietty” will meet your high expectations, and if it’s your first go-round, this movie will give you a taste at the great stuff you’ve been missing.
Disney Nearing Deal for Black List Script ‘Saving Mr. Banks’, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep Rumored to Be Circling
by Angie Han from Slash Film February 9, 2012
When it first came out in 1964, Mary Poppins was a smash hit both commercially and critically: it out-earned The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady at the box office, received thirteen Academy Award nominations and won five. Now, nearly fifty years later, Disney is looking toward returning to the Mary Poppins well — but don’t worry, it’s not a sequel. The studio is close to picking up Saving Mr. Banks, Kelly Marcel’s 2011 Black List script about Walt Disney‘s 14-year effort to persuade author P.L. Travers to sell the movie rights to her tale.
Mary Poppins Movie Premiere at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater (1964)
While that may not sound like the sexiest premise in the world, the prickly relationship between Travers and Disney should provide more than enough drama to power a film. Especially if the story falls into hands as capable as those of Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, both of whom are rumored to be eyeing the leads.
Marcel’s fact-based script centers around Travers’ deeply personal connection to her books. Mary Poppins contained elements of Travers’ own real-life hardships and her relationship with her father, who passed away when she was a child. Travers was therefore reluctant to hand over the rights, fearing that Disney couldn’t do her story justice, but eventully gave in after years of wheedling. Unfortunately, although the finished product was well regarded by critics and audiences alike, Travers herself hated the film, particularly the animated sequences. She subsequently refused to sell any more of her works to Disney.
In some respects, Disney seems like the perfect home for Marcel’s screenplay. They hold the rights to the actual film, and are able to bring their own knowledge of the real-life Disney to the project. On the other, it’s possible that the studio could get shy about showing its founder in any less than flattering light.
Whatever the studio’s plans for the character, it’s apparently interested in booking high-profile names for the project. Hanks is rumored to be considering the role of Disney, while Streep is circling the part of Travers. With that level of talent already interested in the picture, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Disney pushing this as a possible Oscar contender once the pieces fall into place. Expect to hear more about this project once the deal has closed.
Disney airs John Carter trailer during the Super Bowl
Directed by Andrew Stanton February 6, 2012
The extended superbowl spot for Disney's John Carter.
John Carter tells the tale of war-weary, former military captain John Carter, who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly involved in a conflict of epic proportions between the inhabitants of the planet.
Visit the official website at http://www.disney.co.uk/john-carter
John Carter the newest movie from Academy Award®--winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton is an action adventure story set on Barsoom, the exotic and mysterious planet we know as Mars. Based on the classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan, John Carter is the story which inspired many of the most imaginative and well known Hollywood movies, past and present. Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the John Carter character, first created in the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel.
In a world on the brink of collapse, John Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.
After nearly 60 years, Disney to let theme-park workers grow beards
by Jason Garcia from Orlando Sentinal January 23, 2012
After nearly 60 years, Mickey Mouse has decided to let his workers put their razors away.
The Walt Disney Co. announced Monday that it would let employees at its two U.S. theme-park resorts — including its more than 60,000 workers at Walt Disney World — grow beards or goatees.
Bearded Phoebus from Disney's "Hunchback of Notre Dame" won't be the only one sporting a goatee!
The new policy, which goes into effect Feb. 3, eliminates a facial-hair ban that has for decades been a source of grumbling among some of the company's male theme-park workers.
It was one of two notable changes Disney is making to "The Disney Look" — the clean-cut, all-American appearance that Walt Disney himself demanded of his theme-park employees from the day his original theme park, Disneyland, opened in 1955.
The other change: Casual Fridays, though only for employees who work in non-costumed jobs and who don't interact with theme-park visitors.
Disney periodically updates its strict appearance policies, typically after studying similar guidelines at other theme parks and Fortune 500 companies. The last major change occurred two years ago, when the company finally allowed female workers to forego wearing panty hose when wearing skirts — a rule that was particularly uncomfortable for women working outside on steamy summer days in Central Florida.
The company began inching back from its ban on facial hair in 2000, when it finally decided to allow moustaches.
Walt Disney Co. chief executive Bob Iger took home $31.4 million in 2011 in total compensation, a 13.6 percent increase from 2010, according to a Securities & Exchange Commission filing, the Los Angeles Times reports.
A summary of Iger’s compensation shows that he received a base salary of $2 million and stock awards worth $8 million. In addition, Iger also got $4.8 million worth of stock options and $15.5 million in bonuses.
Ninety percent of Iger’s compensation is tied to Disney’s performance. In 2011, the company posted record net income, revenue and earnings per share.
Burbank, Calif.-based Disney (NYSE: DIS) operates the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios theme parks in Orlando.
Disney’s ‘Frozen,’ Formerly ‘The Snow Queen,’ Will Be CG Rather Than Hand-Drawn
by Russ Fischer from Slashfilm January 13, 2012
At the end of last year, Disney announced that a film called Frozen would be the studio’s animated offering for the Holiday 2013 window, and we quickly learned that the film is the latest incarnation of a project once called The Snow Queen, which has been in development for many years.
When Frozen was formally announced, we did not know if it would be a new computer-animated effort, or done with more traditional hand-drawn techniques. Since a previous incarnation of The Snow Queen was meant to be a hand-drawn follow-up to The Princess and the Frog, we hoped Frozen would be hand-drawn.
Disney has confirmed, however, that Frozen will not be hand-drawn; the movie will be a 3D CG animated feature, and presented in stereoscopic 3D in theaters. A bit more background info is below.
Here’s what Peter wrote a couple weeks back when the title Frozen was announced:
The story is an adaptation of author Hans Christian Andersen’s 1845 fairytale The Snow Queen. The project has been in development at the mouse house off and on for at least a decade, originally shelved in late 2002, Glen Keane infamously quit the project in 2003, and the film was put on hold again in March 2010. When the project was last in development, it was set to be Disney’s next hand drawn animated film after The Princess and The Frog. We don’t know if that is still the case or if it is now a computer animated release.
Alan Menken was working on music for the Snow Queen incarnation of Frozen prior to the movie being put on hold in 2010; we don’t know if his efforts will end up in the final film. Frozen is set to release on November 27, 2013.
3 Things That Disney Must Do in 2012
by Rick Aristotle Munarriz from the Motley Fool December 29, 2011
Disney's (NYSE: DIS ) had a busy year of erratic box office returns, mixed theme park performances, and another strong showing at ESPN.
What will 2012 bring?
Let's take a look at a few of the things Disney will have to get right if it wants to revisit the multi-year highs it hit earlier in 2011.
1. Disney needs to bounce back in theatrical animation
Mars Needs Moms was a charge-breeding disaster. Cars 2 fared reasonably well at the box office, but it became the first Pixar flick that film critics generally panned.
These two developments will find the industry watching Disney's ticket sales closely to make sure that 2011's letdowns in animation were flukes.
Brave hits theaters in June, and the new original Pixar property will have the entire summer to prove that it's "brave" enough to follow up the critically dissed Cars 2. On the non-Pixar front, Wreck-It Ralph hits a multiplex near you come November.
Disney can't afford to be asleep at the animator's wheel. DreamWorks Animation (NYSE: DWA ) is hungry after mixed results with a pair of sequels in 2011. Viacom's (NYSE: VIA ) Paramount is launching an animation unit, targeting 2014 for its first release.
2. New theme park expansions will have to pan out
Disney World in Florida has had some competition spring up lately. Legoland Florida just opened less than an hour away. Comcast's (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) Islands of Adventure -- just a few exits away on I-4 -- has been posting huge gains in turnstile clicks since its Harry Potter attraction opened last year.
After years of phoning it in, Disney is making major additions to parks on both coasts. Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim will get the Pixar-themed Cars Land area. In Florida, the first phase of its ambitious Fantasyland expansion opens. Disney better hope that kids want to spend time with princesses instead of sipping butterbeer at Hogwarts or playing with Lego bricks next summer.
3. Apple's new TV better not be too disruptive
Disney and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) are close. Steve Jobs became Disney's biggest single shareholder after the Pixar acquisition, and Disney has always been a willing player in Apple's digital media endeavors.
However, a rumored component of Apple's 2012 entry into making actual TVs will be a Web-based service where customers can choose which cable stations they want. Disney has carved a cozy living with ESPN included in most cable packages, even if subscribers don't care for sports. It has also been able to wedge a bundle of lightly watched kid channels with its namesake Disney Channel. If consumers can actually cherry-pick the channels they want, cable networks won't be happy.
Consumers will love it, of course.
Mouselounge.com is a fan-based website and is not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company or its subsidiaries. Non factual statements made are their current opinions only and are subject to change without notice. All copyrighted material used with permission or under the Fair Use Doctrine in Section 107 of the United States Copyright Act. Although the information in this program is believed to be reliable, Mouselounge.com does not make any representations or warranties as to its accuracy or completeness, nor do they assess, verify or guarantee the suitability of information.
Disney Institute Updates Bestseller Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service
by PR Staff from a Disney Press Release December 12, 2011
In honor of Disney Institute's 25th anniversary, Disney Publishing Worldwide has released an updated edition of Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service, the quintessential guide to Disney's legendary customer service. Authored by Disney Institute and writer Theodore Kinni, the updated book outlines how customer service continues to provide a competitive edge for a company that has experienced significant growth over the last decade.
Exceeding expectations rather than simply satisfying them is the cornerstone of the Disney approach to customer service. Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service outlines how Disney theme parks and resorts consistently deliver quality service to tens of millions of guests each year.
Disney Institute, the professional development arm of The Walt Disney Company, helps organizations adapt these proven Disney principals in service as well as leadership, management, creativity/innovation and brand loyalty to positively impact the bottom line.
"For years Disney Institute has introduced business professionals from around the world to the strategies and practices that are core to the world-renowned success behind the Disney brand," said Jeff James, vice president for Disney Institute. "This updated edition of Be Our Guest presents those classic service principles in a new and exciting way."
In the last 25 years, tens of thousands of professionals from more than 45 countries and scores of industries have participated in Disney Institute programs. Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service highlights the success these companies have achieved after adapting some of the key processes and best practices that have made Disney a trusted and revered worldwide brand for more than 85 years.
For more information on the programs and services provided by Disney institute, please visit www.disneyinstitute.com.
Disney unveils new musical, Wishes, for next cruise ship
by Gene Sloan from USA Today December 8, 2011
A wide range of Disney characters including Mulan, Hercules, Pinocchio and Timon will take the stage in a new show the company is planning for its next cruise ship, the Disney Fantasy.
Disney on Tuesday took the wraps off Wishes, a 45-minute musical production that will be one of several big shows performed in the vessel's 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre. Also playing in the theater will be another new show unveiled earlier this year, Disney's Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular, and Disney's Believe, which debuted on the Disney Dream.
Currently under construction at a shipyard in Germany, the 2,500-passenger Disney Fantasy is scheduled to debut in March 2012. It's a sister to the much-heralded Disney Dream, which arrived earlier this year. See photos of the Disney Dream's most innovative features.
As with past shows on Disney ships, Wishes draws heavily on the company's well-known animated characters. The musical tells the story of three best friends who make a wish while on a visit to Disneyland, invoking an enchanted world where Disney characters guide them through a magical journey. The production includes both made-for-the-show original songs and classic Disney tunes with a contemporary twist.
Wishes isn't the only new feature planned for the Disney Fantasy. The ship also will have a new nighttime entertainment district for adults called Europa and an elaborate new dinner show. See illustrations of what Disney is planning.
Like the Disney Dream, the Disney Fantasy also will feature a "water coaster" called AquaDuck that wraps around the pool deck and elaborate children's areas. Read more about Disney plans for the ship.
Lost 'Oswald' film discovered in England
by Gary J. Chambers from the Mouse Lounge November 29, 2011
Imagine rummaging through your grandparents attic and amidst the dusty tchotchkes, forgotten furniture, and moth riddled old clothes you stumble across an old trunk. Not feeling optimistic given your surroundings you open the lid, only to find the dilapidated luggage contains a treasure of both enormous value and cultural significance.
That is precisely what happened when Amanda Huntley, administrator for the Huntley Film Archives in Herefordshire, England, which specializes in social history films, discovered a long lost "Oswald" cartoon entitled, "Hungry Hobos."
Oswald was a Walt Disney / Ub Iwerks creation that pre-dates Mickey Mouse by only a year and 26 films were released, half of which were considered lost to time.
Huntley told Britain's Guardian newspaper, "We quickly realized it was one of the great lost films. We posted the news on specialist web forums and everybody was very excited. It is significant because it is Disney but also because the character was the prototype of Mickey Mouse. ... How we ended up with the film, I don't know. It was probably collected by my father who started the company and it has been sitting on our shelves for decades. We have decided to sell it because it is not really what we specialize in and we can use the money to preserve other films we have."
Stephanie Connell of the action house Bonhams, which will be handling the sale, told the Guardian, "Hungry Hobos is an incredible find, a lost masterpiece and a cartoon with a unique and vital place in animation history."
Early Walt Disney drawing up for auction in Nevada
by Martin Griffith from the Associated Press November 28, 2011
An original, autographed drawing by Walt Disney, believed to have been made about 1920 before he hit it big in the entertainment world, will go up for auction in Reno this week.
The whimsical drawing of a cigar-chomping man wearing a derby hat will be among 1,400 items up for sale at the two-day auction set to begin Tuesday at the Atlantis Casino Resort.
Titled "Fill Up My Can," the illustration has an estimated value of $35,000 to $50,000. It's believed to predate Disney's Mickey Mouse, which made its cartoon debut in 1928
"Real pieces signed by him (Disney) are really rare," said Fred Holabird of Reno-based Holabird-Kagin Americana, which is staging the auction. "This is one of the earliest known signed Disney pieces, if not the earliest."
The drawing was once owned by Disney's sister, Ruth Disney.
Also up for auction is what's billed as the "first and possibly only known copy" in private hands of the original Nevada Black Book, which features names, information and photos of about a dozen people barred from entering Nevada casinos.
The 11-page book includes mobster Sam Giancana, whose presence at Frank Sinatra's Cal-Neva hotel-casino at Lake Tahoe prompted revocation of the singer's gambling license in the early 1960s.
The book was made by the Nevada Gaming Commission about 1960, and was owned by the state's first gambling officer.
"It represents the first effort to keep illegal people out of Nevada casinos. It's a big step in the way we did business in Nevada," Holabird said, adding the book is expected to fetch up to $5,000.
Also drawing interest is a unique $50 gold coin struck during the California Gold Rush. It's estimated to be worth from $135,000 to $175,000.
"It's the best piece in the auction," Holabird said. "It's one of the first $50 gold coins Augustus Humbert struck when he was appointed U.S. assayer in San Francisco in 1851."
Also up for auction are collections of Old West photos and Mustang Ranch brothel memorabilia
Disney-Pixar releases 'Brave' Trailer!
by Gary J. Chambers from the Mouse Lounge November 16, 2011
Disney-Pixar has released its eagerly anticipated full length trailer for next summers Pixar release, "Brave". The movie features Pixar's first female lead in its 25 year history.
The film is set in ancient or Medieval Scotland. “Brave” centers around Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), the young daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Just as
important, Merida is a skilled archer and independent thinker. She’s determined to make her own decisions, and so challenges the customs of her land.
Disney to release 'Tangled' short in theaters with Beauty and the Beast
by Gary J. Chambers from the Mouse Lounge November 15, 2011
Taking a page from the Pixar playbook, the success of "Tangled" has inspired a new short subject to accompany the theatrical re-release of "Beauty and the Beast" in 3D.
Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi reprise their roles as the voices of Rapunzel and Flynn.
The simple yet promising plot finds the popular sidekicks Pascal the chameleon and Maximus the horse frantically searching for the affianced couple's missing rings on the day of their wedding.
Disney promises, ""a trail of comical chaos that includes flying lanterns, a flock of doves, a wine barrel barricade and a very sticky finale". Tangled co-directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard returned for the short and have said they will reunite for a new Disney feature. Beauty and the Beast returns to theaters January 20, 2012.
First Look: Pixar Forges New Princess With 'Brave'
by DERRIK J. LANG AP Entertainment Writer from AP Los Angeles November 14, 2011
The newest princess from The Walt Disney Co. is more interested in shooting arrows and hunting bears than attending balls and finding Prince Charming. Merida, the spunky curly-haired Scottish heroine from the upcoming Pixar Animation Studios adventure "Brave," is breaking new ground as the archery-loving protagonist of the Oscar-winning studio's first fairytale.
"She's your anti-princess," said "Brave" co-director Mark Andrews. "She isn't your typical princess. She doesn't wear nice clothes except in a couple of scenes when her strict mom, Queen Elinor, makes her do it for special functions. She's an active and action-oriented person. She wants to get out in the outdoors of the Highlands, escaping from castle life and exploring the woods."
"Brave," scheduled for release June 22, 2012, is set in medieval Scotland and features the voices of "Boardwalk Empire" actress Kelly Macdonald as Princess Merida, Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor, Billy Connolly as her one-legged father, King Fergus, as well as Craig Ferguson, Kevin McKidd and Robbie Coltrane as the kingdom's noblemen.
Despite being the first Pixar film to focus on a female heroine, Andrews said "Brave" will be less about girl power and more about the oppositional relationship between mother Elinor and daughter Merida, likening the defiant red-haired princess to a scrutinized teenager who is forced to attend the same high school where her mother serves as the principal.
In the film's full-length trailer, out Tuesday, Merida's father tells of the 12-foot-tall beast with razor-sharp claws, a face scarred with a dead eye and "hide littered with the weapons of fallen warriors," that chomped off his leg while the rebellious Merida transverses a lush forest, ascends a mountain and lands a bull's eye at a tournament.
The role of Merida in "Brave" marks the first animated film part for Macdonald, a Scottish actress who has appeared in such movies as "Gosford Park" and "Finding Neverland." She acknowledged being struck by the significance of playing Disney royalty during a visit to Disneyland earlier this year as she watched Disney princesses gallivanting during the afternoon parade.
"I just thought, 'My goodness! There's eventually going to be a Merida doing her thing up there,'" said Macdonald. "The people that they cast to be the characters and wear the costumes at Disneyland have to do the accent, so somebody at Disneyland is going to be doing me. Some American girl will have to do my accent. It kind of blows my mind, really."
Other imagery teased in the new trailer includes Merida encountering mystical blue-hued wisps and the gnarly bear that took her father's leg. Andrews said despite the 3-D film's darker tone and visual style compared with past Pixar movies like "Toy Story" and "Cars," ''Brave" won't be "missing any of the comedy or entertainment you usually associate with Pixar."
The Walt Disney Company is reporting a 30 percent gain in fourth-quarter income on double-digit growth at ESPN and the theme parks. For the period ending October 2, which closed the company's fiscal year, revenue muscled up to $10.4 billion. The divisions that did well helped to offset an 8 percent drop at the studio.
CNBC's Julia Boorstin interviews Bob Iger about 4Q financial results. For personal, noncommercial use only.
"It's tough to compare quarter to quarter for movie studios because of the timing of releases. I don't think that really is something that I'd point to in terms of an impact on the results. The bottom line is we had a great quarter," Disney President and CEO Robert Iger said in an interview with CNBC.
Profit topped $1.1 billion for the quarter on a 7 percent revenue gain. It reported a 21 percent profit gain to $4.8 billion for its full fiscal year and a 7 percent revenue gain to $40.9 billion for the period.
“Fiscal 2011 was a great year financially and strategically, demonstrating the strength of our brands and businesses with record revenue, net income and earnings per share,” Iger said in a statement. “We are confident the Company is well-positioned to deliver long-term value for our shareholders with our focus on quality content, compelling uses of technology and global asset growth.”
Disney's media networks division raked in the lion's share of company revenue, pulling in $4.8 billion for the quarter, a 9 percent improvement over the year ago period.
The theme parks brought in $3.1 billion revene for the quarter, an 11 percent gain, and $11.8 billion for the year, a 10 percent improvement.
"Our bookings are running roughly on par with where we were a year ago, but our pricing is up nicely. We had a strategy to gradually wean the customer of the discounts that we started when the economy fell apart in the latter part of 2008, and we have been doing that quite successfully throughout fiscal 2011 and have continued that in the quarter that we're just in and it seems to be holding up. Our attendance, our bookings are generally strong and our pricing is stronger than it was a year ago," Iger told CNBC's Maria Bartiromo.
Is pricing theme park tickets at the extreme of what the market will bear a good strategy for the company? Discuss.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host: From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
GUY RAZ: And I'm Guy Raz.
There's a new deal between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Disney and Google have announced the venture for Disney to make original videos for Google's YouTube. Joining us now to explain the big implications of this relatively small deal is NPR's Laura Sydell. And, Laura, what exactly are Disney and YouTube doing together?
LAURA SYDELL: What's happening is there's going to be original Disney content on YouTube. And this is new. There has been some already previously made content, but Disney's going to be doing things like, for example, they said they're going to take a game, a very popular game they have called "Where's My Water?" and its main character, Swampy, and they are going to turn them into a short special YouTube programming, and it's going to be family-friendly. And so that's what they're doing together. And there's going to be a lot of other things, too, they say over time.
RAZ: Here's what I don't understand. Why would Disney want to make original new videos and put them up against, you know, videos of cute kittens or sneezing pandas that you see on YouTube?
SYDELL: Good question. Well, disney.com has not been the kind of hit, I think, that Disney would really like it to be. In fact, Disney's digital media group hasn't even really been that profitable. They've had layoffs, so it hasn't been that great. On the other hand, YouTube's kind of cool. Young people really like YouTube, and they think very positively about it.
So while on the one hand, many parents aren't so happy about having their kids go to YouTube because they're worried, you know, that - who knows what they'll find next to those cute little puppy videos...
SYDELL: ...if you put Disney. But if you put some Disney content there, right, well, that's going to make YouTube more family-friendly, and that's going to be nice for YouTube. So everybody gets something here out of this deal. And, of course, the other thing, too, is it's going to - YouTube is on a lot of mobile devices, and so Disney is going to get their stuff on to mobile devices. And I'm sure a lot of parents will like that because, you know, here's my phone. Can you do this for a few minutes, right?
RAZ: Well, it's clear to me what Disney gets out of it. It's still not clear to me what YouTube gets out of it. I mean, why would they want exclusive content from Disney?
SYDELL: Well, I think, you know, if you look at where YouTube has been heading and where it's going, it's increasingly trying to position itself as a company that's a lot more than just homemade videos about, you know, babies and puppies and kitties. You know, they have, for example, in the music business, you've started to see professional music videos from Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and other big name celebrities. They also recently just announced a deal. They're going to have something like 100 channels, and they're bringing in Madonna, Ashton Kutcher, Deepak Chopra, and they're all going to have separate channels. Madonna's going to do a dance channel. And the idea here is that this is going to attract a lot more advertising than those doggy videos.
SYDELL: Right? You know, so that's the thing, because advertisers are not sure what you're going to get when you're putting your stuff on a homemade video. But if it's professional content, for example like Disney, right? I mean, that's great stuff. You really would like to have your ad somewhere next to Disney content.
RAZ: Laura, if we're talking about streaming video, you've got to talk about Hulu and Netflix. These are the other - obviously, the other big names in streaming video. They are also trying out their own original content. Does this mean that they are going to be in direct competition with YouTube?
SYDELL: Absolutely. I think what we're seeing here as we move into the future is there's going to be kind of a third way. So you've had, you know, historically, you had the networks, which were just a few channels, then you had cable, which was hundreds of channels, and now you're going to have thousands of channels. And everybody wants a little piece of that, the stream services. They want to create their own content so they - for example, you go to Netflix, which has a deal with Kevin Spacey. They'll go to YouTube. They have Disney content. And more and more, you see televisions that are connected to the internet, so I think it's about competing for that space.
RAZ: Thank you so much, Laura.
SYDELL: You're welcome.
RAZ: That's NPR's Laura Sydell.
John Lasseter gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
by Gary J. Chambers from the Mouse Lounge November 2, 2011
Accompanied by fellow executives and Pixar mainstays, John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of the Walt Disney Company received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Tuesday. Appropriately his star is located in front of the theater where every single one of his pictures made their debut, The El Capitan.
In attendance were Pixar director Pete Docter; Cars 2 voice actors Don Rickles, Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, John Ratzenberger, Owen Wilson and Emily Mortimer; musicians Brad Paisley and Randy Newman; and actor Patton Oswalt, star of Ratatouille. Disney and Pixar execs in attendance included studio chairman Rich Ross, studio president Alan Bergman, production president Sean Bailey, Disney and Pixar Animation Studios president Ed Catmull and Pixar general manager Jim Morris.
Lasseter thanked his wife and sons, and Pixar collaborator, Ed Catmull before paying an emotional tribute to Steve Jobs. “My first meeting with Steve was in 1987, Pixar was a computer company at the time, and there were four of us doing animation using computer technology,” he said.
Listen to an excerpt of the ceremony (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertaiment)
“I had this crazy idea at the time to make a short about a tin toy that is being menaced by this baby, and I told this story to Steve. He loved it and the only thing he asked of me was ‘John, make it great!’ Tin Toy went on to become the first computer-animated short to win an Academy Award. I shared that Oscar with Steve, and today, I share this star with Steve Jobs, without whom none of the films at Pixar would have been made.”
Disney strikes deals with Netflix and Amazon
by Gary J. Chambers from the Mouse Lounge October 31, 2011
Amazon and Netflix both announced today new licensing agreements with Disney for their streaming libraries. Netflix was able to secure an extension of their previous agreement, which means desirable content like Grey's Anatomy and Lost will remain in the struggling Netflix lineup.
Both companies struck deals to add new content to their respective lineup of Disney-ABC series and TV movies. Episodes from new seasons of current Disney-ABC series will be made available to Netflix 30-days after the last episode of each season airs. Here's what's in it for the viewers.
Prior season episodes of ABC current hit series “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives,” and “Private Practice”
All episodes of recent ABC favorites “Lost,” “Brothers & Sisters,” and “Ugly Betty”
Prior season episodes of critically-acclaimed “Army Wives” from ABC
All episodes of the ABC thriller “Alias”
Popular series from ABC Family including “The Secret Life of the American
Teenager,” “Melissa & Joey,” and “Make It or Break It”
A wide range of content from Disney Channel including series “Phineas
and Ferb,” ” Good Luck Charlie,” “The Suite Life on Deck,” and “Hannah Montana”
New content from Disney-ABC that will be added to the service include:
ABC Family’s smash hit series “Switched at Birth”
Prior season episodes of Disney Channel’s animated series “Kick
Prior seasons of current ABC hit series “Grey’s Anatomy”
All episodes of recent ABC favorite “Lost”
Prior seasons of Disney Channel’s popular animated series “Phineas & Ferb”
Prior seasons of ABC Family’s groundbreaking series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” including the most recently aired episodes from summer 2011
Prior seasons of Marvel’s animated shows “Spider-Man,” “X-Men Evolution,” “Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers” and “Iron Man: Extremis”
All episodes of ABC Family’s “Greek”
All episodes of “Felicity” from ABC Studios
Amazon Prime members can watch these TV shows on over 300 different devices, including the recently announced Kindle Fire—the Kindle for movies, TV shows, music, magazines, apps, books, games, and more. Kindle Fire customers enjoy a free month of Amazon Prime right out of the box
Walt Disney World celebrates its 40th Birthday with a yawn
by Michelle Wright from CNN October 25, 2011
Earlier this month, Walt Disney World celebrated its 40th anniversary. The Magic Kingdom opened its doors to the public for the first time on October 1, 1971, and not only did the landscape of Central Florida change, the landscape of the family vacation did as well.
Many non-Disneyphiles had no clue about the milestone.
Listen to the unabridged CNN Radio piece, "Disney Orlando Is 40. Where's the Party?" (Michelle Wright, CNN)
There wasn't a big marketing push or makeover of the iconic Cinderella Castle as there was for the 25th anniversary in 1996, a celebration that lasted more than a year.
For the anniversary this year, all the "Mouse House" did was hold a special parade and a brief ceremony, along with a tweak to the nightly "Wishes" fireworks display. Guests who came to the park that day also received a commemorative pin.
The lack of hype for the anniversary can be tied to a recent change made by Disney executives, says Chad Emerson, who just edited a book of essays on the Magic Kingdom's 40 years in business, titled "Four Decades of Magic." Disney is cutting costs by streamlining operations at its domestic parks, located in Anaheim, California, and Orlando.
Several industry experts, however, are questioning Disney's newest plan of not only streamlining the behind-the-scenes aspects of its domestic parks, like human resources, but also the entire Disney experience -- down to attractions and merchandise.
Brent Young, co-host of the theme park-focused podcast "Season Pass" and managing director for Super 78 studios, said Disney fans wanted the hoopla of a 40th anniversary bash.
"Frankly, the fans would love for them to celebrate the 40th. The fans of Walt Disney World understand the impact that Walt Disney World has made not only on the United States, as a destination park for the United States, but the world as well," he said.
Emerson believes Disney is taking the wrong path when it comes to its latest plan.
"That synthesizing and making a generic Disney park experience for merchandise, for attractions, for food and beverage for these other guest interaction pieces has been one of the most unfortunate decisions that the parks and resorts division has ever made," Emerson said.
Disney spokesman Rick Sylvain said marketing this year does incorporate all parks.
"Our focus during this 'Let the Memories Begin' year in Disney parks remains on our guests and the memories they have made, are making and will make in our parks," he said.
The Central Florida parks of course remain a popular destination for families like the Hickmans, from Atlanta. Jeff and Kristi Hickman opted to take their two girls to Walt Disney World for the very first time this summer, and it was a hit.
"There's a first time for everything, and that first time was great! And I want to (go) again when I'm older, or in a couple of months because it was really ... enjoyable and I had a great time," said 8-year-old Hannah Hickman.
That's despite the Central Florida summer heat. Hannah's mother, Kristi, said she was prepared not to have a good time and was making the sacrifice for her children.
"We were going in July. I set my mind that I know it's fun, I had a blast when I was little, but I'm an adult now and it may not be as fun. I'm going to wait in lines, it's going to be hot, I'm going to be thirsty," Kristi Hickman said.
"You know, it was amazing, all that didn't even bother me. It was like, you know, I was just their age again. I loved it just as much."
Jeff Hickman was focused on the finances of bringing his family to Walt Disney World, but enjoyed the trip.
"We saved up for it. We spent every penny that we saved. We're still trying to recover. But I would go again in a heartbeat. I would have to save up again ... but I think it was definitely worth it. It was a great family memory," he said.
According to Emerson, other families might not opt to go to Walt Disney World, but would just look for a "Disney experience" elsewhere -- and that should have the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau concerned.
"If I was the Orlando CVB, I would be a little bit concerned about this strategy, because it's basically telling guests go to a Disney park, it doesn't matter which one," Emerson said.
Google celebrates the 100th birthday of Mary Blair with a Doodle
by Gary J. Chambers from the Mouse Lounge October 21, 2011
Today Google honors what would have been the 100th birthday of Mary Blair, a concept designer and colorist with a long career at the
Walt Disney Studios. Her stylized drawings inspired films like Peter Pan, Song of the South, Cinderella, and especially, Alice in Wonderland. Her designs evoke a childlike innocence, with abstract characters and a brightly colored palette.
Her work at Disney transcended two dimensional art when Walt asked her to return to the studio in 1963 after several years working as a freelancer, to design the characters for it's a small world which first bowed at the 1964-1965 World's Fair. When it finished its run, the entire attraction was shipped to the West coast, and Mary was tasked to design the beautiful facade of the ride in Disneyland Park.
Mary also created a mural which lined the promenade of the New Tomorrowland being constructed in Disneyland in 1966. One was on the Adventure Thru Inner Space building and the other, on the Bell System CircleVision building. Together, the two murals formed a work of art is called The Spirit of
Creative Energies Among Children.
At the Contemporary Resort on the East coast, Mary designed the dramatic Grand Canyon Concourse. Similar in style but much grander in scope, it features stylized birds, animals, flowers, and American Indian children. The mural consists of 18,000 hand-painted tiles and is 90 feet tall, and unlike
the murals of Tomorrowland, 40 years later is still there today for guests to enjoy.
Blair also applied her drawing talents to children’s books including the art for, "I Can Fly", a book she illustrated for author Ruth Krauss.
In addition to the films over which she had such influence, Mary's work is perhaps best appreciated in art historian John Canemaker's book, "The Art and Flair of Mary Blair", published in 2003. This is a delightful art book with many examples of Mary Blair’s stylized concept designs for animated Disney
films, as well as art that Mary Blair did outside of Disney.
Mary Blair died of a cerebral hemorrhage on July 26, 1978. In 1991, she was recognized with a posthumous Disney Legend award. Also posthumously, she received the Winsor McCay award from ASIFA-Hollywood in 1996.
In the basements of the Disneyland and Paradise Pier hotels in Anaheim, big flat-screen monitors hang from the walls in rooms where uniformed crews do laundry. The monitors are like scoreboards, with employees' work speeds compared to one another. Workers are listed by name, so their colleagues can see who is quickest at loading pillow cases, sheets and other items into a laundry machine.
It should come as no surprise that at the happiest place on Earth, not all the employees are smiling.
Isabel Barrera, a Disneyland Hotel laundry worker for eight years, began calling the new system the "electronic whip" when it was installed last year. The name has stuck.
"I was nervous," said Barerra, who makes $11.94 an hour, "and felt that I was being controlled even more."
Measuring productivity is commonplace in the hotel industry, and manual tallies were kept in Disney hotels until last year. Disney says the electronic system, which it also uses at its Florida resort, is becoming more common at hotels, though I haven't found much evidence of that.
Employees in the Anaheim hotels are required to key in their ID when they arrive, and from then on, their production speed is displayed for all to see. For instance, the monitor might show that S. Lopez is working at an efficiency rate of 37% of expected production. The screen displays the names of several coworkers at once, with "efficiency" numbers in green for those near or above 100% of the expected pace, and red numbers for those who aren't as fast.
At Paradise Pier, hanging under the monitor is a framed picture of Mickey Mouse on a lunch break at a factory. Judging by his smile, I'd bet his factory doesn't have an electronic whip.
According to Barrera, the whip has led to a sort of competition among workers, some of whom have tried to race to the head of the pack. But that has led to dissension and made other employees worry that a reasonable pace won't be enough to keep the boss happy. Barrera and Beatriz Topete, an official with Unite Here Local 11, said employees have been known to skip bathroom breaks out of fear that their production will fall and managers will demand an explanation. They say they felt bad for a pregnant employee who had trouble keeping up.
I learned about the electronic whip by chance, while visiting the homes of hotel workers to talk about the fact that they have been working without a contract for three years. Since that time, the union and the hotel haven't been able to reach a new agreement. Many of them fear that they'll soon be required to pay higher healthcare premiums or be reduced to part-time status, with no health insurance available.
Roughly 2,100 employees at Disneyland's three resort hotels in Anaheim — the Grand Californian is the third — were covered by the contract that expired in early 2008. Disney officials say that Unite Here Local 11 rejected a very good final offer that included raises, a reduced workload for housekeepers and more healthcare options, and Local 11 is the only one of 31 unions representing Disney workers that hasn't come to terms.
Employees see it differently. They appreciate steady work with a thriving company like Disney, and many of them have 10, 20, even 30 years on the job. They say they don't expect to get rich or even make it solidly into the middle class working at the hotel. Workers have been content with hourly pay in the $8-to-$14 neighborhood in return for mostly free healthcare from a union plan Disney contributes to. Union leaders say workers are prepared to begin paying a portion of their healthcare costs, but not so much that their total compensation takes a big hit.
The Disney contribution to the healthcare plan has not changed since 2007, even as healthcare costs rise. As a result, the union healthcare trust fund is shrinking, union officials said. Disney offered to increase its contribution by 10% over five years, but that didn't cut it, says the union, nor does it put Disney at anywhere near what other hotels pay into healthcare for Local 11 members.
Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said the company was offering $5,000 over two years to employees who switch to the company's plan. But clock punchers say the numbers don't add up, that it will still cost them more in the end for equivalent healthcare. So they see Disney's offer as a pay cut at a time when the company is flourishing, with profits in the last fiscal year of roughly $4 billion.
"I would have to divide up the house and rent out this part," Carmen Guzman told me in the living room of her home not far from Disneyland.
Guzman, a 23-year employee who has worked as a housekeeper and hostess, was treated for uterine cancer several years ago. Now she needs regular monitoring and can't risk skimping on healthcare coverage. Nor can she and her husband, a landscaper, afford to pay hundreds of dollars more each month for a medical plan. She and other employees fear Disney will reduce their hours and make them ineligible for coverage, though Brown flatly denied that such a plan was in the works.
"I left my life and my youth in the hotel," Guzman said, telling me that employees are trained to smile and "make the magic happen" for hotel clients, "no matter how dirty they leave the room."
Tom Bray, a bellman at the Disneyland Hotel for 24 years, makes $8.25 an hour, plus tips, which can be unreliable. His wife was recently laid off from her job as a schoolteacher, he said, and they would be hammered if his union healthcare plan starts costing him $240 a month, which is what he projects. If he switches to the company plan, he said, comparable coverage would cost even more.
You try to give customers "that magical experience," Bray said, but Disney "doesn't want to share the profits with you."
By Local 11's math, when Walt Disney ran the company in 1966, he made 108 times as much as one of his hotel housekeepers. Bob Iger, the current chief executive, makes 781 times as much as a housekeeper.
After making $28 million in total compensation last year, Iger's base pay was just increased 25%.
I wonder if there's an electronic whip in Iger's office.
What do YOU think? Is it Disney's responsibility to its low wage workforce to maintain their health benefits when faced with increasing costs, or is the Union not acting in good faith for its membership for not having closed a deal in over thred years?
Hi Ho Silver! Away! Disney rides on with the Lone Ranger
by Gary J. Chambers from The Mouse Lounge October 13th, 2011
Walt Disney Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer have come to terms and are prepared to ride on with The Lone Ranger.
With the principals and producer taking a 20% pay cut, a pricey special effects laden sequence written out of the screenplay, and Bruckheimer having his
spurs held to the fire for cost overruns, the original $250 million dollar budget has been trimmed to $215.
With the delay, Disney is not expected to meet its initial release date of December 21, 2012. Contrary to rampant rumor mongering, the project was never dead. Constructions of sets in New Mexico were put on hold, but negotiations were always part of the plan to ultimately bring the potentially lucrative tentpole film to the screen. Disney CEO, Bob Iger recently indicated in an earnings call with analysts that the studio would "films that are bigger and increasingly more risky" but reduce the number of films on the slate.
The company's objective is to produce films that tie in with other divisions, such as consumer products, video games, theme parks, and television spinoffs. Already in the pipe are two projects with budgets beyond $200 million, "Oz, the Great and Powerful" and "John Carter."
UPDATED October 13, 2011 6pm PDT: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney has set 'Lone Ranger' with a May 13, 2013 release date. Disney also pushed back "Thor 2" from summer 2013 to Nov. 15, 2013, "Phineas and Ferb" takes "Thor's" old slot of July 26, 2013.
What do you think? Is Disney making the right moves with fewer films having bigger budgets?
In an announcement that seems to have come out of nowhere, Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, announced he will step down from his role in March 2015 and leave the company altogether the following year. At that point Iger will have been CEO for 10 years and be only 63 years old. He’s a very young looking 60 today.
The definite end to what will be a decade-long tenure suggests the eventual promotion of one of his two closest lieutenants, either Jay Rasulo, 55, the chief financial officer,
or Tom Staggs, 50, chairman of the parks division. The two veteran executives swapped jobs in late 2009 in a move that groomed both to take over one day.
Iger took the reins of The Walt Disney Co. in September 2005 after the tumultuous ouster of Michael Eisner following a shareholder revolt led by Roy Disney, the late nephew of the company's founder.
What do you think of this news? Have you been satisfied with Bob Iger’s regime at the mouse house?
Steve Jobs Dies: Apple Chief Created Personal Computer, iPad, iPod, iPhone
by Ned Potter and Colleen Curry from ABC News October 5th, 2011
Steve Jobs, the mastermind behind Apple's iPhone, iPad, iPod, iMac and iTunes, has died, Apple said. Jobs was 56.
Apple did not reveal where Jobs died or from what cause -- though in recent years he had fought pancreatic cancer and had a liver transplant.
"We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today," read a statement by Apple's board of directors. "Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve. His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts."
The homepage of Apple's website this evening switched to a full-page image of Jobs with the text, "Steve Jobs 1955-2011."
"Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple."
Jobs co-founded Apple Computer in 1976 and, with his childhood friend Steve Wozniak, marketed what was considered the world's first personal computer, the Apple II.
Shortly after learning of Jobs' death, Wozniak told ABC News, "I'm shocked and disturbed."
Industry watchers called him a master innovator -- perhaps on a par with Thomas Edison -- changing the worlds of computing, recorded music and communications.
Jobs rivals in the development of personal computers, Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen, immediately reacted to his death and highlighted his importance to their industry.
Allen called him "a unique tech pioneer and auteur who knew how to make amazingly great products."
Gates also extended his condolences, and added via a written statement, "Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives.
"The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come," he added. "For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely."
Jobs continued to innovate in recent years even as he battled severe health problems that prompted leaves of absence from Apple.
In 2004, he beat back an unusual form of pancreatic cancer, and in 2009 he was forced to get a liver transplant. After several years of failing health, Jobs announced on Aug. 24, 2011 that he was stepping down as Apple's chief executive.
"I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know," Jobs wrote in his letter of resignation. "Unfortunately, that day has come."
One of the world's most famous CEOs, Jobs remained stubbornly private about his personal life, refusing interviews and shielding his wife and their children from public view.
"He's never been a media person," said industry analyst Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, after Jobs resigned. "He's granted interviews in the context of product launches, when it benefits Apple, but you never see him talk about himself."
The highlights of Jobs's career trajectory are well-known: a prodigy who dropped out of Reed College in Oregon and, at 21, started Apple with Wozniak in his parents' garage. He was a multimillionaire by 25, appeared on the cover of Time magazine at 26, and was ousted at Apple at age 30, in 1984.
In the years that followed, he went into other businesses, founding NeXT computers and, in 1986, buying the computer graphics arm of Lucasfilm, Ltd., which became Pixar Animation Studios.
He was described as an exacting and sometimes fearsome leader, ordering up and rejecting multiple versions of new products until the final version was just right. He said the design and aesthetics of a device were as important as the hardware and software inside.
In 1996, Apple, which had struggled without Jobs, brought him back by buying NeXT. He became CEO in 1997 and put the company on a remarkable upward path.
By 2001 the commercial music industry was on its knees because digital recordings, copied and shared online for free, made it unnecessary for millions of people to buy compact discs.
Jobs took advantage with the iPod -- essentially a pocket-sized computer hard drive with elegantly simple controls and a set of white earbuds so that one could listen to the hours of music one saved on it. He set up the iTunes online music store, and persuaded major recording labels to sell songs for 99 cents each. No longer did people have to go out and buy a CD if they liked one song from it. They bought a digital file and stored it in their iPod.
In 2007, he transformed the cell phone. Apple's iPhone, with its iconic touch screen, was a handheld computer, music player, messaging device, digital wallet and -- almost incidentally -- cell phone. Major competitors, such as BlackBerry, Nokia and Motorola, struggled after it appeared.
By 2010, Apple's new iPad began to cannibalize its original business, the personal computer. The iPad was a sleek tablet computer with a touch screen and almost no physical buttons. It could be used for almost anything software designers could conceive, from watching movies to taking pictures to leafing through a virtual book.
Jobs kept a close cadre of friends, Bajarin said, including John Lasseter of Pixar and Larry Ellison of Oracle, but beyond that, shared very little of his personal life with anyone.
But that personal life -- he was given up at birth for adoption, had an illegitimate child, was romantically linked with movie stars -- was full of intrigue for his fan base and Apple consumers.
Jobs and his wife, Laurene Powell, were married in a small ceremony in Yosemite National Park in 1991, lived in Woodside, Calif., and had three children: Reed Paul, Erin Sienna and Eve.
He admitted that when he was 23, he had a child out of wedlock with his high school girlfriend, Chris Ann Brennan. Their daughter, Lisa Brennan Jobs, was born in 1978.
He had a biological sister, Mona Simpson, the author of such well-known books as "Anywhere But Here." But he did not meet Simpson until they were adults and he was seeking out his birth parents. Simpson later wrote a book based on their relationship. She called it "A Regular Guy."
Fortune magazine reported that Jobs denied paternity of Lisa for years, at one point swearing in a court document that he was infertile and could not have children. According to the report, Chris Ann Brennan collected welfare for a time to support the child until Jobs later acknowledged Lisa as his daughter.
There were other personal details that emerged over the years, as well.
At Reed, Jobs became romantically involved with the singer Joan Baez, according to Elizabeth Holmes, a friend and classmate. In "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs," Holmes tells biographer Alan Deutschman that Jobs broke up with his serious girlfriend to "begin an affair with the charismatic singer-activist." Holmes confirmed the details to ABC News.
Jobs' Health and Apple's Health
Enigmatic and charismatic, Jobs said little about himself. But then his body began to fail him.
In 2004, he was forced to say publicly he had a rare form of pancreatic cancer. In 2009, it was revealed that he had quietly gone to a Memphis hospital for a liver transplant.
He took three medical leaves from Apple. He did not share details.
In 2009, sources said, members of Apple's board of directors had to persuade him to disclose more about his health as "a fiduciary issue," interwoven with the health of the company.
He was listed in March as 109th on the Forbes list of the world's billionaires, with a net worth of about $8.3 billion. After selling Pixar animation studios to The Walt Disney Company in 2006, he became a Disney board member and the company's largest shareholder. Disney is the parent company of ABC News.
Analysts said Apple performed well during Jobs' absence, partly because he was available for big decisions and partly because his chief lieutenant, Tim Cook, was the hands-on manager even when Jobs was there.
The company has a history of bouncing back. In January 2009, after he announced his second medical leave, Apple stock dropped to $78.20 per share. But it quickly recovered and became one of the most successful stocks on Wall Street. On one day in the summer of 2011, with the stock hitting the $400 level, Apple briefly passed ExxonMobil as the world's most valuable company.
Disney unveils additional 3D re-releases
by RACHEL ABRAMS, ANDREW STEWART from Variety October 4, 2011
Prompted by unexpected success of "The Lion King" 3D retrofit, Disney announced that it will re-release 3D versions of animated pics including "Beauty and the Beast," "Finding Nemo," "Monsters, Inc." and "The Little Mermaid."
Studio has dated the pics to bow over the next two years.
Up first, "Beauty and the Beast" unspools on Jan. 13, followed by "Finding Nemo" on Sept. 14. The 2013 pair, "Monsters, Inc." and "The Little Mermaid," will bow on Jan. 18 and June 21, respectively.
Pixar's "Monsters University," a prequel to "Monsters, Inc." is skedded to hit theaters in 3D June 21, 2013.
"The Lion King" 3D retread surprised B.O. observers when it opened three weeks ago to a chart-topping $30 million, followed by a surprisingly resilient sophomore sesh. So far, the pic has totaled nearly $80 million at the domestic B.O., with an additional $20 million in overseas grosses.
In general, 3D conversions take about five to eight months to complete, depending on complexity and length of the film.
It's not surprising that Disney slotted "Beauty and the Beast" first, given that a 3D version of the toon is already completed. In fact, the Mouse originally planned to release a "Beauty" 3D treatment before "The Lion King," but decided instead to release "Beauty" for a two-week trial run at L.A.'s El Capitan theater that ended Sept 15.
"Great stories and great characters are timeless, and at Disney we're fortunate to have a treasure trove of both," Walt Disney Studios prexy Alan Bergman said in a statement.
And while B.O. figures for "Lion King" are promising (even 3D, which has a reported 93% of the pic's total), many bizzers still debate how much of a boost 3D upcharges bring to studios' bottom lines.
In 2010, 3D's contribution to a pic's overall B.O. ranged from about 50% to as high as 80%. This year, the domestic figure is down to roughly 45%. But pics are still seeing more formidable 3D returns overseas, with the format accounting for about 60%-70% of a film's international take. That's even in territories where the upcharge is a bigger percentage of ticket prices than domestically.
With "The Lion King," Disney benefited from marketing the film as a 3D event, with only a few 2D showtimes each day.
And according to investment consulting group Clear Scope Partners' most recent quarterly report, animated films can cost significantly less to convert to 3D than live action pics, and ticket upcharges more than help cover the cost of conversion.
"The 3D ticket price … made it profitable to offer films in 3D for all but a few titles since 2007, which on average earned $17 million in excess of the cost of conversion," the report stated.
That makes future 3D conversions viable, particularly for films like "Lion King," which already have a wide familiarty.
Of the titles to be converted, 2003's "Finding Nemo" has earned the most, with $867.6 million worldwide, followed by "Monsters, Inc.," which grossed $526.9 million globally and sold 11 million home video units during its first week. But the Mouse's hand-drawn pics were major B.O. hits of their time: "Beauty" totaled $380.4 million worldwide in 1991; "Little Mermaid," $228.9 million in 1989.
With new generations discovering the toons, these pics continue to expand their fanbase long after their theatrical release, thanks to merchandising and ancilliaries. Last year, Disney reported a total $28.6 billion in consumer product revenues -- far more than any other studio.
New York theater owners have approached Disney Theatrical Productions about mounting the company’s “Newsies the Musical” on Broadway this season after the new show received strongly positive reviews this week at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, according to people familiar with the discussions.
“Newsies,” based on a 1992 Disney film that was inspired by the 1899 New York City newsboys’ strike, would be an unexpected major entry to a Broadway season that has relatively few original musicals set to open.
“Newsies” also represents the second Disney-developed show to receive attention from Broadway theater owners this year; the other show,
“Peter and the Starcatcher,” inspired by Peter Pan, is widely expected to open on Broadway in the spring after its critically acclaimed run at New York Theater Workshop last season.
Executives from the Nederlander Organization and Jujamcyn Theaters, two of Broadway’s major chains, have reached out to Disney to talk about opening “Newsies” in one of their houses, according to the people familiar with the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge private business discussions.
Disney executives appear open to the idea of a Broadway run, these people said, but are at this point still planning to release the title for licensing as originally planned. A spokesman for Disney Theatricals declined to comment on Thursday about the overtures from the theater owners.
It is not clear if the star of “Newsies,” Jeremy Jordan, would be part of a Broadway production. He is committed to the upcoming Broadway musical “Bonnie & Clyde,” which is set to open this year.
Four new movies were no match for the feline phenom The Lion King 3D, which ruled the box office for the second weekend in a row with $22.1 million, according to studio estimates. The 1994 Disney classic dropped only 27 percent — an incredibly impressive hold considering this is the re-release of a 17-year-old film that’s coming out on Blu-ray/DVD in one week.
The 3-D version has now grossed $61.7 million, bringing The Lion King‘s cumulative tally to $390.2 million. Disney says it plans to extend what was originally intended to be just a two-week release, although details are still being ironed out.
The weekend’s runner-up was the new Brad Pitt baseball drama Moneyball, which batted a solid $20.6 million. If the estimate holds, that’ll represent the best opening ever for a baseball film, beating 2006's The Benchwarmers ($19.7 million). Surprisingly for a sports movie, Moneyball drew a crowd that was evenly split between men and women, although it skewed quite older, with 89 percent of the audience at least 25 years old. Both critics and moviegoers were fans — the PG-13 film received some of the strongest reviews of the year and earned an “A” rating from CinemaScore participants.
Moneyball will now try to follow in the box-office footsteps of last year’s The Social Network, which debuted to a similar $22.4 million en route to a domestic total of $97 million. Both movies were released by Sony in the middle of fall and were written by Aaron Sorkin (who co-wrote Moneyball with Steven Zaillian). The two films even cost around the same amount to produce: $50 million for Moneyball and $40 million for Social Network.
Disney's Aulani Resort Grand Opening Celebration lights up the sky
by Brianne Randle from KHON 2 News, Hawaii September 23rd, 2011
Aulani, a Disney resort and spa officially opened to guests August 29th, but that was nothing compared to the grand opening celebration Thursday night on the beach of Ko'Olina.
"This is the first time I've opened one of our properties without shoes on, anyway it is great to be here and se all of you," said Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger.
Disney was sure to make the night a fairy tale evening with a Hawaiian twist.
Then it was time to get the party started, as Hawaiian recording artist and award-winning Kumu Hula Keali'i Reichel lit up the stage.
With a few words from Walt Disney company's CEO Robert Iger and Chairman Thomas Staggs they then welcomed one of the most anticipated guests of the evening - none other than Mickey and Minnie.
It's a celebration like this that has tourism officials excited.
"What Disney brings to the table for Hawaii is their global, world wide brand and exposure. The fact that they branded Hawaii and talked about a unique Hawaii experience is even more special," says Mike McCartney, Hawaii Tourism Authority.
The Aulani is also helping to add dozens of new jobs into the workforce.
"I fortunatley moved to Makaha, so my drive is literally about 10-15 minutes," says Romeo Butihi, Aulani Front Desk Agent.
"The majority of us are from here so we can get really out that Hawaiian authenticity of who we are and what we stand for," says Tracey Shimabukuro, Aulani Labor Recording Assistant.
It's that mix of Hawaiian tradition and the magic of Disney that when blended together can stir up a spectacular light show to remind everyone that dreams really do come true.
Friday wraps up the end of Disney's 4-day week long Aulani celebration.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide is joining forces with visionary filmmaker James Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the world of AVATAR to life at Disney parks. Through an exclusive agreement announced today by Disney, Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox,
Disney will partner with Cameron and producing partner Jon Landau to create themed lands that will give theme park guests the opportunity to explore the mysterious universe of AVATAR first hand. Disney plans to build the first AVATAR themed land at Walt Disney World, within the Animal Kingdom park. With its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the AVATAR stories, which share the same philosophy. Construction is expected to begin by 2013.
“James Cameron is a groundbreaking filmmaker and gifted storyteller who shares our passion for creativity, technological innovation and delivering the best experience possible,” said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “With this agreement, we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine James’ talent and vision with the imagination and expertise of Disney.”
“AVATAR created a world which audiences can discover again and again and now, through this incredible partnership with Disney, we’ll be able to bring Pandora to life like never before. With two new AVATAR films currently in development, we’ll have even more locations, characters and stories to explore,” said James Cameron. ”I’m chomping at the bit to start work with Disney’s legendary Imagineers to bring our AVATAR universe to life. Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of AVATAR with an unprecedented sense of reality.”
The agreement announced today gives The Walt Disney Company exclusive global theme park rights to the AVATAR franchise and provides for additional AVATAR themed lands at other Disney parks. The other locations will be determined by Disney and its international theme park partners. James Cameron, Jon Landau and their Lightstorm Entertainment group will serve as creative consultants on the projects and will partner with Walt Disney Imagineering in the design and development of the AVATAR themed lands.
“This exciting new venture combines the world of AVATAR with the enormous reach of Disney and the incomparable talent of Jim Cameron,” commented Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman. “While Jim is bringing audiences further into Pandora with the next two chapters in the AVATAR motion picture saga, the theme park attraction will likewise bring a new dimension to the amazing universe he created.”
“AVATAR is a uniquely powerful franchise that has global appeal with audiences of all ages. Its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures, and strong themes of family and loyalty make it a perfect fit for Disney,” said Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We can’t wait to give our guests the ability to journey to Pandora and explore the incredible immersive world of AVATAR in person.”
In addition to setting a global box office record, AVATAR has been hailed as one of the most innovative and visually stunning movies ever produced. With its advanced motion capture and 3-D digital projection technologies developed by James Cameron and his team, moviegoers were able to connect with the world of AVATAR in new and engaging ways.
'Lion King' roars again to top of box office
by Scott Bowles from USA Today September 18th, 2011
The Disney cartoon did $29.3 million, according to studio estimates from box office trackers Hollywood.com.
The debut eclipsed projections by most analysts, who expected the cartoon to do a modest $14 million because of its availability on home video. But Disney re-teamed original directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, and the studio marketed the 3-D makeover as a new experience.
"Plenty of parents are interested in experiencing Simba's story on the big screen again while introducing the fun to a whole new generation," says Gitesh Pandya of Boxofficeguru.com.
"The theatrical experience still makes for an exciting family activity at the start of this new school year, especially since there has been nothing major for the kids since July's The Smurfs."
The encore lifted King's overall revenues to $357.8 million. The film passed FindingNemo ($340 million) to become the third highest-grossing animated film on record. Shrek 2 holds the title at $441 million, followed by Toy Story3's $415 million.
Critics and fans didn't mind the re-run. About 88% of the nation's reviewers recommended the movie, while 89% of fans gave it a thumbs-up, according to survey site Rottentomatoes.com.
The cartoon musical had enough strength to bump the outbreak thriller Contagion, which fell to second place with $14.5 million. The film dropped a scant 35% from its No. 1 debut last week — a good sign for a long run at theaters.
The Ryan Gosling thriller Drive took third place with $11 million, meeting the top end of most analysts' expectations. Critics and fans were along for the ride: 92% of reviewers and 88% of moviegoers liked the movie, Rottentomatoes.com says.
The Help was fourth with $6.3 million, lifting its overall gross to $147.4 million.
The violent remake Straw Dogs was fifth with $11 million, meeting most expectations.
The only other major newcomer of the weekend, the Sara Jessica Parker comedy I Don't Know How She Does It, didn't do much at the box office, taking sixth place with $4.5 million, about a million below projections.
Head of Disney Channels resigns. Gary Marsh Succeeds her.
by Joe Flint and Dawn C. Chmielewski from The L.A. Times September 16th, 2011
In the second top-management shake-up this month at Walt Disney Co., the executive in charge of the entertainment giant's powerful Disney Channel is leaving the company after less than two years on the job.
The departure of Carolina Lightcap, president of Disney Channels Worldwide, comes on the heels of the abrupt resignation last week of Disney Consumer Products Chairman Andy Mooney.
Taking over for Lightcap is Disney Channel veteran Gary Marsh, who was president of entertainment and chief creative officer for Disney Channels Worldwide. He played a key role in developing such hit shows as "Hannah Montana," "Wizards of Waverly Place" and "Phineas and Ferb," as well as top-rated cable TV movies "High School Musical" and "Lemonade Mouth."
In a statement announcing Marsh's promotion, Disney gave no reason for Lightcap's resignation. During the last two years, the domestic Disney Channel grew its ratings 9% in the all-important demographic of kids ages 6 to 14. The channel's total viewership rose too, according to Nielsen.
However, people close to the company said there were issues regarding Lightcap's management style. She was considered a micromanager who, despite the global scope of her responsibilities, would, for example, delve into giving script revisions on hit shows, according to two people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Lightcap, who was tapped in November 2009 to succeed Rich Ross after he left Disney Channels Worldwide to run Walt Disney Studios, was an unexpected choice for the high-profile post overseeing a network that served as a launching pad for several new "tween" brands. Although she had been at Disney since 2000, she spent most of her time overseeing the marketing and programming of the company's Latin American cable operations.
When Lightcap was promoted, Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks, said Lightcap's "wealth of experience, leadership acumen, and programming, marketing and franchise building skills make her the ideal executive to lead Disney Channels Worldwide into the future."
Lightcap did not respond to a request for an interview, but in an email to employees Thursday said she thought the "timing was perfect to move on to my next challenge." Sweeney said in a statement that the company was "sorry that Carolina decided to leave us."
Many in the industry considered Marsh the obvious successor to Ross, but at the time he wanted to focus on what he'd done so well: running the Disney Channels' entertainment side.
"Gary Marsh has been the driving creative force behind Disney Channels' remarkable growth for the past 15-plus years," Sweeney said in a statement. "He not only understands the zeitgeist of kids' culture, he helped create it."
Marsh will now be responsible for both programming and business operations for Disney Channels Worldwide, which reaches into 169 countries. In addition to Disney Channel, he will oversee Disney XD, a channel aimed at young boys; Disney Junior, a 24-hour channel for pre-schoolers that launches in February; and Radio Disney.
Disney Channel has long been one of the jewels of the Walt Disney Co. empire. This year, it is expected to take in $1.15 billion in operating revenue, consulting firm SNL Kagan said. Of that, more than $650 million is profit. It is one of the most valuable and most expensive cable channels. Cable and satellite companies pay fees of more than 90 cents per subscriber per month for the right to carry the channel, SNL Kagan said.
Disney installs cupola of Carthay Circle Theater replica in DCA (VIDEO)
by Gary J. Chambers from The Mouse Lounge September 13th, 2011
While completion of DCA's new wienie (as Walt would call it) is still months away, it is one step closer with the installation of the cupola that sits atop the structure. Disney recently released a time-lapse video showing off the addition which provides an excellent opportunity to take a peek at the intricate tile work.
Disney Cruise Line's next ship, Disney Fantasy, nears completion
by Gene Sloan from USA Today Cruise Log September 9th, 2011
The construction of Disney Cruise Line's newest ship, the Disney Fantasy, hit a major milestone over the weekend as the final building block of the vessel was lowered into place.
The photo to the right shows a 265-ton portion of the Disney Fantasy's bow just moments before it was attached to the 2,500-passenger ship at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.
Under construction for more than a year, the Disney Fantasy is a sister to the 2,500-passenger Disney Dream, which debuted in February. Like the earlier vessel, the Disney Fantasy will feature a "water coaster" called AquaDuck that wraps around the pool deck, multiple Disney-themed shows and elaborate children's areas.
The ship also will have a new nighttime entertainment district for adults called Europa and an elaborate new dinner show (see illustrations of what Disney is planning for the new ship).
The Disney Fantasy's maiden voyage is scheduled for March 31, 2012, out of Port Canaveral. The ship will sail seven-night Caribbean itineraries, alternating between an Eastern Caribbean route (with stops in St. Maarten and St. Thomas) and a Western Caribbean route (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel). Special Eastern Caribbean sailings in November and December 2012 will stop in St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico. All the itineraries will include a stop at Disney's private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.
Aloha, Disney! Disney's new upscale, beachside Hawaiian resort Aulani opens Monday, thousands of miles from the nearest Disney theme park. And while Mickey Mouse and friends can be found on the property, Hawaii's culture, history and natural beauty are the biggest stars. "The resort is not a replication of any of our theme parks. We know if guests want to go to
Disneyland, they'll go to Disneyland," said Djuan Rivers, a Disney vice president who oversees the resort. "Our guests are coming here first and foremost for Hawaii and everything Hawaii has to offer." Joe Rohde, head of Aulani's creative team, grew up in Honolulu and said "we made a choice early on to really, really focus on Hawaiian culture as a defining element of Aulani."
Aulani is located on the west side of Oahu, about an hour's drive from Waikiki. The sprawling 840-unit resort is the first major Disney property to offer a mix of regular hotel rooms and Disney Vacation Club time shares away from a theme park. (Disney's smaller resorts in Hilton Head, Ga., and Vero Beach, Fla., are time shares.)
Aulani is a Hawaiian term for messenger of a chief or higher authority. Showcasing the host culture as Aulani's main theme is a departure from other Disney properties where the iconic mouse and other Disney references are visible at every turn. True, visitors will find a surfer Mickey lamp in each Aulani guest room, with his image subtly blended in the bedding design, and Disney cast members portraying Mickey, Minnie, Donald and the rest of the crew can be found strolling around in bright aloha shirts and shorts. But the spotlight here is definitely on Hawaii.
"This story is about this place, that you came to see, experience and want to take away memories from that are different than the memories if you went to Idaho," Rohde said.
Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and the company's former chief financial officer, said Aulani "captures the very best of the rich Hawaiian storytelling and culture with a touch of Disney."
Designers have incorporated historical and contemporary island scenes, artwork, values, designs, textures, colors, language and traditions in nearly every aspect of the place, from taro fields and native foliage in the landscaping, to the Olelo Room lounge, where everything is labeled in the Hawaiian language, including the chairs (noho) and the floor (papahele). Olelo's staff, including servers and bartenders, is fluent in Hawaiian and will speak to each other in the island's native tongue while sharing the language with guests. Other employees have also undergone some language and cultural training.
"Here you are in Hawaii. You will meet people who are Hawaiian. You will meet people who speak Hawaiian. I think that's cool," Rohde said.
The resort's two main towers have 359 hotel rooms, 481 time-share condo units, two main restaurants, conference rooms, an 18,000-square-foot spa, a fire pit for storytelling and a vast water play area.
Hotel rooms range from $399 a night for a 420-square-foot room to $2,449 a night for the Ahu Ulu Suite (two bedrooms, 1,910 square feet). An ocean view room runs $549 a night, which rivals prices at Hawaii's most posh resorts.
Disney would not comment on the cost of building Aulani, which has been reported at more than $800 million. But behind the scenes, the resort has not always been the happiest place on earth. Disney broke ground on the project in November 2008 during the recession and temporarily suspended sales of time-share units in July amid concerns that it underpriced annual fees, including maintenance costs for the units. The Orlando Sentinel first reported that Disney fired three executives over the financial mistake including Jim Lewis, president of Disney Vacation Club. Disney said it recalculated the annual fee and was taking deposit reservations from prospective buyers, but not executing contracts until modifications are made in the registration materials.
Besides an 8,200-square-foot pool, there is a 950-foot-long lazy river where kids can glide along in a tube through forests and caverns, a saltwater snorkel lagoon filled with tropical fish, a rock formation with lava tube slides and an aquatic jungle gym called Menehune Bridge. Pay an extra $45 to visit a water preserve where you can feed stingrays and see starfish and anemones. A portion of proceeds will be donated to conservation efforts in Hawaii.
A supervised kid's club for children ages 3 to 12 called Aunty's Beach House was inspired by Rohde's aunt's beach home in Punaluu. With the exception of a fireplace, which most Hawaiian homes don't have, it's designed to look like a traditional home, decorated with old trophies, photos and a garage filled with tools and tins. The high-tech windows are digital portals depicting scenes from around Hawaii.
Kids can watch Disney movies, play dress-up or video games, or participate in activities such as learning hula while parents play golf, hit the spa or beach or enjoy a quiet meal. Tweens and teens have a separate hangout where they can listen to music, eat frozen yogurt and surf the Internet.
The landscaping is inspired by an ahupuaa, an ancient Hawaiian land division system that extended from the mountain to the sea. Situated between the towers is a lush tropical forest that serves as a make-believe hideout for Hawaiian trolls, or menehune. Closer to the ocean, coconut trees sway in the Pacific breeze.
A canoe and maritime theme inspired by the legendary Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokulea is found throughout Aulani, from artwork to handmade lashings on signs and structures. High arches in the architecture evoke traditional Hawaiian canoe houses.
"We return again and again to this canoe idea because of this whole sense of arrival, journey and also because the canoes are this sort of this quintessential Hawaiian art form," Rohde said.
Aulani is expected to attract many of its visitors from the West Coast and Asia. With Japanese guests in mind, time share units are equipped with rice cookers, chopsticks and a tea drawer.
Around the corner from the resort, farther up the Waianae Coast are unspoiled beaches and mountainsides, a stark contrast to the blight from the deep poverty and homelessness that has long plagued this part of Oahu. Some locals have voiced concern about preserving the area's rural character, but with an expected workforce of 1,200, Aulani is bringing in much-needed jobs.
Aulani sits on 21 acres of a larger property, the Ko Olina Resort, which also houses a golf course with waterfalls, luxury homes, a public beach park, and the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa. The Marriott resort houses the NFL's Pro Bowlers and for years was the biggest building in the area, but it's now dwarfed by Aulani.
Staggs said a key component of Disney's business strategy is to figure out where families like to vacation. "Our guests told us that Hawaii is one of their favorite vacation destinations," he said, "and we created Aulani in response to that feedback."
The Walt Disney Family Museum Appoints Gabriella C. Calicchio Chief Executive Officer
by WDFM Staff from The Walt Disney Family Museum August 23rd, 2011
Gabriella C. Calicchio has been named Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Family Museum, announced Walter E. D. Miller, Museum co-founder and Walt Disney's grandson. Ms. Calicchio returns to the San Francisco Bay Area after serving as Managing Director of the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis, one of the nation's highest-profile children's theaters and the only company serving
a young audience to receive the Tony Award® for outstanding regional theater. She takes up her post at the Museum in November 2011. Prior to leading the nationally renowned Children's Theater Company, Ms. Calicchio held a succession of executive positions in the Bay Area for more than a decade. She served as Managing Director of Marin Theatre Company, Mill Valley, CA for six years after a two year tenure as Executive Director of the Diablo Ballet, Walnut Creek, CA. She came to the Bay Area in 1996 to become Director of Theater Operations at Smith Center, Ohlone College in Fremont, CA.
A Center for Social Innovation Fellow at Stanford University, Ms. Calicchio holds an MA in Arts Administration and Education from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, and a BA in Drama and Dance from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. She began her professional career at Harvard University's Sanders Theater and also worked for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
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"Ms. Calicchio brings extensive experience across disciplines in the non-profit arts," said Mr. Miller. "She is highly regarded in the field and has amassed an enviable record of administrative and artistic successes. Our board is confident that her demonstrated leadership and vision will ensure The Walt Disney Family Museum's bright future as a center for creativity and imagination."
Diane Disney Miller, Museum co-founder and Walt Disney's daughter added, "I'm delighted we have engaged a new CEO of Ms. Calicchio's rich talents and deep experience. I'm particularly enthusiastic about her past work with youth-focused arts, since my father's legacy is rooted in appealing to 'the child in all of us'."
At The Children's Theater Company (2007-2011), Ms. Calicchio helmed this prominent theater for young people through current economic challenges, made the Company financially solid through a new emphasis on major gifts, and enhanced its programmatic excellence.
While at the Marin Theatre Company (2001-2007), Ms. Calicchio directed a successful post-9/11 fiscal turnaround, and developed the fiscal and administrative support for its expanding new-play and public outreach programs. Most notably, Ms. Calicchio developed and funded partnerships within the underserved communities of Marin City and the Canal District of San Rafael, CA, with innovative programming including playwright Marisela Trevińo Orta's work with Latino teens to write their own bilingual plays as well as the commission and performance of a new Orta play inspired by raids by the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement that had targeted the area's Latino communities.
"I'm honored to lead The Walt Disney Family Museum, an amazing institution that showcases the genius of Walt Disney's original vision," said Ms. Calicchio. "I am eager to work with the board, staff and volunteers to expand the Museum's influence and make it relevant and inspirational to the diverse San Francisco Bay Area and a must-see destination for visitors."
Ms. Calicchio's appointment follows an extensive nationwide search conducted by Museum Management Consultants, Inc. of San Francisco. Ms. Calicchio succeeds Richard Benefield.
Disney Stops Production on Johnny Depp's 'Lone Ranger'
by Joshua L. Weinstein from The Wrap August 14th, 2011
Disney has stopped production on "The Lone Ranger" which was -- or is -- to star "Pirates of the Caribbean" topliner Johnny Depp as Tonto.
An individual close to the project told TheWrap Friday night that everyone involved with the movie is "talking about next steps."
Another speculated that the decision could be a ploy on the studio's part to reduce the budget.
That's not entirely unlikely as studio head Rich Ross entered the job with a mandate to cut costs.
There are all kinds of reasons Disney would tread gently with this: In addition to the Depp heft, there's Jerry Bruckheimer's producer heft and Gore Verbinski's director heft.
The studio does not want to anger Depp, who stars in its most successful franchise -- and whose "Alice in Wonderland" grossed more than $1 billion worldwide for the studio. Disney would like Depp to make a fifth "Pirates."
Verbinski, who is attached to direct "The Lone Ranger," directed Depp in "Rango" and in three "Pirates" films. Bruckheimer produced the "Pirates" movies.
Additionally, there's the up-and-coming heft of Armie Hammer, the compelling actor who played twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss in "The Social Network" and plays Prince Andrew Alcott in Relativity's upcoming "Snow White" project.
The movie was set to begin production this October in New Mexico.
"The Lone Ranger" had been given a Dec. 21, 2012 release date. But that release date has suddenly grown more competitive. This week, Paramount announced that "World War Z," its giant zombie picture starring Brad Pitt, will be released that day.
Deadline first reported the news.
Related Articles: 'Lone Ranger' to Ride Into Theaters on Dec. 21, 2012 Verbinski Re-Teaming with Depp on 'Lone Ranger'
Editor's Note: Call me a conspiracy theorist but I think its naive to think that this entire story is anything less than a contrived ploy with which to maintain public interest in the picture. Of course, no one will admit to that. Hey, Rich! Call me! I have a better way!
Disney to lay off 65: Sunday job cuts completes round announced in June
by Mark Kellam from Glendale News Press August 11th, 2011
Completing a round of job cuts that was announced in June, the Walt Disney Co. will lay off 65 employees Sunday, most of them from the company’s headquarters in Burbank.
Although it was reported 200 Disney jobs would be eliminated in June, not all of the cuts were made at that time, according to a company source.
However, the workers who would be laid off were told in June their jobs would be eliminated in the future, the source added. “The timing was different for everybody in terms of when they left the company,” the source said, who asked to be anonymous because he was not authorized to speak. The latest round were not new layoffs, the source added.
The 65 layoffs were reported on the Employment Development Department website this week, which is required anytime a company eliminates 50 or more positions.
Disney had two other sets of layoffs earlier this year. In May, 103 positions were eliminated at the Disney Interactive Media Group in North Hollywood. In March, Disney Interactive Studios in Glendale cut 54 jobs.
Editor's Note: What do you think? Is this a sign of trouble for the largest media company in the world, or a normal correction in what is still a troubled economy?
Disney magic fades, economy fears wallop shares
by Lisa Richwine from Reuters August 11th, 2011
Shares of Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) were hammered on Wednesday as Wall Street worried how the company's steady-growth media and resort businesses would fare if consumers get pinched in a weak economy.
Disney shares closed 9.1 percent lower at $31.54 after falling nearly 15 percent earlier in the session, one day after the company's quarterly results failed to inspire investors already nervous about theme park revenue and the sustainability of an advertising rebound.
Several brokerages lowered expectations. Barclays Capital, Wunderlich Securities, RBC and Evercore Partners all cut their price targets and lowered forecasts for those core divisions.
"Given an uncertain consumer, we are taking a more conservative stance on our estimates going forward," including lowering estimates for ESPN advertising revenue, said Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente. He lowered his price target for Disney shares to $44 from $52.
The company's shares fell much more than those of rivals like Time Warner Inc (TWX.N), which dropped 4.6 percent. Disney lost some $6 billion in market value even after the shares recouped some of their losses in afternoon trading. They still finished with a considerably sharper drop than the 4.4 percent fall in the broader S&P 500.
The operator of theme parks, the ESPN sports and ABC broadcast networks and a movie studio is known for consistently beating analysts' expectations. But the company had reported a miss when it released fiscal second-quarter results in May.
In fiscal third-quarter results reported Tuesday, the Mouse House beat most analysts' expectations. But that came after it recorded some ESPN revenue that was expected in the fourth quarter.
Disney "has not lived up to the earnings-beatings behavior it is known for," Nomura Securities analyst Michael Nathanson said in a note to clients. He lowered his price target on the shares to $42 from $45.
Disney executives told analysts the company is not seeing any advertiser downturn at its TV networks, and hotel bookings were down 2 percent less than the company had forecast.
But they also warned about higher programing and production costs at ESPN, lower syndication sales at ABC and tough year-over-year comparisons for its studio division in the fourth quarter.
Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan lowered his rating on Disney to "hold" from "buy," saying the company's asset value appeared "excessively ... oriented toward ESPN."
"Disney has major upside off better monetization of Disney Pixar, Marvel, ABC, and the parks, but this hinges on creative execution and the economy," Harrigan said in a note to clients.
RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank, who cut his price target to $43 from $48, said ESPN ad growth and margins at theme parks were "softer than expected" in the just-ended quarter.
"While years of execution justify 'best of breed' premium valuation, we think several quarters of 'misses' could make it somewhat vulnerable," Bank said in a research note
'Avengers,' 'John Carter' and More on Disney's D23 Expo Agenda
by Hollywood Reporter News Staff from the Hollywood Reporter August 10th, 2011
Disney will present sneak peeks at The Muppets, John Carter, Oz The Great and Powerful, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, Pixar's Brave and Marvel’s The Avengers at its studio-themed convention known as D23 Expo.
Disney will also trot out the stars of some of those movies, including Jason Segel, Kermit, and Miss Piggy (Muppets), Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, and Willem Dafoe (John Carter), Kelly Macdonald and Kevin McKidd (voicework for Brave), Jennifer Garner (The Odd Life of Timothy Green), Jack McBrayer and Sarah Silverman (Wreck-It Ralph), and Avengers cast members, whom have not been revealed.
Last Saturday, two loggerhead sea turtles returned to the sea at Disney's Vero Beach Resort. The two left as 250 guests watched on. The turtles laid their eggs the night before on the beach.
The company, in making the announcement, also promised surprise guests, with some speculating cast members of the not-yet-in-production Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, could show up as well.
The convention, now in its second year, runs August 19 to 21, but it’s August 20 that promises to be the big day, with the sneak peaks and cast roll call. Also on hand for that day will be Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross, production president Sean Bailey, Disney Animation and Pixar chief John Lasseter and Marvel man Kevin Feige.
D23 Expo, held at the Anaheim Convention Center, is designed to be a Comic-Con-style celebration of things Disney and D23’s nascent arrival has affected how Disney (and Marvel) now approach Comic-Con; the studio, for example, didn’t bring Avengers to the San Diego-based pop culture mega-event, waiting to hold it for its own event.
A large amount of time will be devoted to Pixar, which is celebrated its 25th anniversary, including a look at the key members of the Pixar creative team (in a panel including Lasseter, Jim Morris, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, Lee Unkrich, Mark Andrews and Dan Scanlon), a look at the characters of Pixar’s new movie Monsters University, a focus on composer Michael Giacchino, a look at the art of Brave, and a panel discussion with the filmmakers behind the Pixar shorts.
Also on the schedule, an advance screening of the 3D version of The Lion King and and the upcoming ABC holiday special Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nicefrom Walt Disney Animation Studios.
On the convention center floor, fans will be able to see a collection of props from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, engage in drawing classes, meet-and-greets, book signings, among other activities.
"Disney Tracks Sea Turtle Migration Online"
by WESH News Staff from WESH 2 News, Orlando August 4th, 2011
Disney is helping folks learn about turtle migration by tracking 15 sea turtles online.
The project, called "Tour de Turtles," will track the turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. Each of the turtles is meant to raise awareness about a specific issue. For example, Rapunzel is raising awareness of the threat of entanglement.
In addition to the online tracker, which debuts Aug. 15, Disney guests can also learn about the turtles' progress at Rafiki's Planet Watch at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Last Saturday, two loggerhead sea turtles returned to the sea at Disney's Vero Beach Resort. The two left as 250 guests watched on. The turtles laid their eggs the night before on the beach.
"Judge says Disney/Pixar "Cars" series not plagiarized"
by Brent Lang from Reuters August 3rd, 2011
Sounds like Lightning McQueen is more than just a cheap knock-off.
A federal judge has sided with the Walt Disney Company and Pixar, finding that the studios did not steal the ideas for their hit films "Cars" and "Cars 2" from British screenwriter Jake Mandeville-Anthony.
Mandeville-Anthony claimed last spring that he had submitted a script with character art to the studio in the mid-'90s that closely resembled the anthropomorphic autos in the two animated films. At the time, he sought an injunction to prevent the June release of "Cars 2."
Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank disagreed, dismissing the complaint.
"Plaintiff's works, Cookie & Co. and Cars/Auto-Excess/Cars Chaos and Defendants' works, CARS, CARS 2, and CARS Toon: Mater's Tall Tales, are not substantially similar as a matter of law," the judge writes.
Judge Fairbank also found that Mandeville-Anthony's breach of contract claims fall outside of the two-year statute of limitations.
"New Tron Uprising trailer hits the 'net"
by Gary J. Chambers from the Mouse Lounge July 30th, 2011
Attendees at Comic-con were treated to a sneak peek at the new "Tron Uprising" series to begin airing in 2012 on Disney XD. Now, a week later, us Sci-Fi ploebes not making the trek out West are privy to the material.
The good news is, that in just the all-too-brief one-minute running time, Disney has convinced me they have spent money which ends up on the screen, and is evocative of the beautiful art direction from "Tron: Legacy". For all that film's seeming faults in story structure, few argued that it had nothing short of brilliant production design.
If writers of the new series, which is set when CLU rises to power between the events of the two films, can create a tight compelling story arc, Disney could have a hit series on its hands.
Elijah Wood voices the show’s main character/program, Beck who we will be introduced to in ten 3-minute segments on the web leading up to the series premiere.
"Theme park ticket scam: Don't get taken for a ride"
by Laura Bly from USA Today July 27th, 2011
An undercover sting operation along a busy tourist highway near Orlando last week netted more than $1 million worth of unused, multi-day theme park tickets - and serves as another "if it looks too good to be true" example for unsuspecting vacationers.
The Osceola County sheriff's office arrested 14 people hawking tickets along Highway 192, which is packed with motels and other businesses catering to bargain-hungry travelers bound for Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World and other Orlando area theme parks.
Vendors openly advertise that they will buy unused portions of multi-day theme park passes from tourists heading home. Paying a few cents per dollar value on the passes, they then sell them at a profit to tourists willing to buy the cut-rate, re-sold tickets - which are illegal under Florida law - and try to fool theme parks' fingerprint scanners, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
While the biometric scanners aren't always used, particularly during busy times when park officials are trying to minimize backups, "if they do check I.D.s, you could be out of luck," says Mark Goldhaber of MousePlanet.com. What's more, says Goldhaber, "you have no way of knowing whether the unused tickets are still valid."
For a roundup of "advice, tips and tricks" for buying Walt Disney World tickets and passes, check out MouseSavers.com.
Mouse Lounge Commentary: While criminals hawking phony tickets is not as prevalent on the west coast, never let your guard down. Hucksters do line Harbor Blvd from time to time trying to impress upon you deals too good to be true. To quote Dory, "Just keep swimming... just keeping swimming."