Jump to content


Photo

Sobering News From Disney


  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 20 July 2006 - 12:19 AM

This is some very unfortunate news for our fellow entertainment industry workers. 650 jobs cut at Disney and a reduction in their feature film output per year. I wonder why? Pirates Of The Caribbean didn't make enough money? They expected a 1 Billion opening weekend?

My local TV station that I left long long ago just axed another 22 people last week, that's on top of the big cuts they have already made over the years. My friend at ILM has seen that shop shrink and shrink in employee numbers since he started. Is there growth any where?

It should certainly give young people entering this industry some food for thought. Is the uncertainty that comes with working in film and TV really worth it or can I do some thing else? I don't want to hear the BS that I have a negative attitude. The layoffs in our field are frequent and often severe, that's a fact of life.

THE STORY:

The long-expected axe fell at the Walt Disney Co. Tuesday, with roughly 650 employees -- or about one in five employees -- receiving pink slips, half in domestic operations, half overseas. Among those caught in the purge was Nina Jacobson, president of Buena Vista Motion Picture Group, the studio's top decision maker for live-action films. She will be replaced by Oren Aviv, who, as part of a company-wide reorganization, has been named president of production of Walt Disney Pictures. The firing of Jacobson stunned Hollywood, coming as it does just months after her contract with the studio was extended three more years and slightly more than a week after Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest became the biggest hit of the year. Several reports mentioned that it also came on the same day that her partner gave birth to their third child. L.A. Weekly's Nikki Finke reported Tuesday that Jacobson had called Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook to share the news and was told in the same conversation that she had been fired. Commented Finke: "Not since Dawn Steel learned she was ousted as president of production while on maternity leave from Paramount has a top woman movie executive found out this brutally she'd been axed in Hollywood." Today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times reported that Cook offered her a production deal at the studio. However, Jacobson told the newspaper that she had declined, saying "I would rather start fresh with something new. ... I feel very sad to be leaving a job that I have loved." She added that she had always tried "to treat the job as a privilege, not an entitlement."
Disney Cutting Not Only Jobs But Films, Too


The Walt Disney Co. also confirmed Monday that it would be slashing film production to 10 films per year, focusing on family films and released under the Walt Disney studio banner, and two or three under its Touchstone banner. The studio has been averaging around 18 films per year. Its Pixar and Miramax units will not be affected by the shake-up, the company indicated. Oren Aviv, who has held the title of chief creative officer, will oversee live-action development and production. Wall Street reacted favorable to the shake-up. Since news reports first began leaking word of the impending shakeup, shares in the company have inched up daily, unretarded by downgrades by a couple of key analysts. In early-morning trading on the NYSE, the stock was up about 1 percent. It has risen nearly 5 percent since Monday.
  • 0

#2 Stuart McCammon

Stuart McCammon
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 139 posts
  • Producer
  • 95010

Posted 20 July 2006 - 01:17 AM

This mirrors AOL's sad decline, and is a testament to the tyranny of Wall Street and shareholder equity. All the lawyers can think to do is slash, and in the process they eliminate all the creative people who might stand a chance of marketing their way out of a tough situation. Eisner had his faults, but Disney was golden with Eisner, Katzenberg and Frank Wells. Those boys may have been cheap as hell and tough to work with, but they sure knew how to market)
  • 0

#3 Adam Frisch FSF

Adam Frisch FSF
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2009 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, USA

Posted 20 July 2006 - 06:19 AM

I'm sad for the employees, but I think this is a good thing for the company. Disney had under Eisner turned into a stock market wh**e, only after milking as much as they could from their lame vehicles. Now production will drop from 18 films a year to 10, which is more sensible - this world produces way to much entertainment and I think it's a good thing to try to do quality rather than quantity (admittedly, that has yet to be seen).

One major problem with public companies traded on stock markets is that they can only really expand by producing more or buying other companies. This normally doesn't mean they make more money per film, they just turn over more. And in turning over more, having hubris and doing too much, it's easy to lose sight of quality. We all love Disney and I hope they'll once again become the lean, quality-oriented company they once were.
  • 0

#4 Nate Downes

Nate Downes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1638 posts
  • Florida, USA

Posted 20 July 2006 - 08:09 AM

I have low hopes for Disney. Johnson was one of the best people in the business, and with her and the Weinstein's effectively managing all of Disney's live action work, Disney was producing a lot more hits than misses, and a record that most studios could only dream of. I question on if it has something to do with Disney's recent panhandling to the anti-gay lobby...
  • 0

#5 steve hyde

steve hyde
  • Sustaining Members
  • 446 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Seattle

Posted 20 July 2006 - 11:58 AM

...This Disney story is a classic wild west case of boom and bust capitalism. They are suffering from an over-accumulation of capital in the form of labor and material goods with an insufficient market to spin-off the labor and goods for consumption. They may have gotten a big return from their Pirate movie, but that doesn't mean it pays for all the other film$$$$ that they have made over the past decade.

Perhaps this will, in the end, be a good thing for the LA industry just like the disintegration of the studio system and the rise of independents...

Steve
  • 0

#6 Leo Anthony Vale

Leo Anthony Vale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2010 posts
  • Other
  • Pittsburgh PA

Posted 20 July 2006 - 01:39 PM

My local TV station that I left long long ago just axed another 22 people last week, that's on top of the big cuts they have already made over the years. My friend at ILM has seen that shop shrink and shrink in employee numbers since he started. Is there growth any where?


---CEO bonuses. All those salaries just eat into money that goes into the bonuses.

---LV
  • 0

#7 Hal Smith

Hal Smith
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2280 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • OKC area

Posted 20 July 2006 - 01:50 PM

The 70's were ruled by mavericks who made great films. We're in another artistic boom and bust cycle where the suits start to believe they're the ones who know how make movies. A new wave of creative people will rise up sooner or later, and the suits will lose influence again for a while.

One thing that may brighten the future - digital distribution can be a lot cheaper than film distribution, the mechanisms and technologies are coming into place where real independents might be able to distribute their own films to art houses - and possibly cut deals with the AMC's, etc. to show in a small house in a multiplex. It isn't going to be easy since the same corporations who control the studios control a lot of media - but at least it's conceivable. I personally greatly prefer film projection over digital - but if digital means getting some leverage against the suits - go for it!
'
  • 0

#8 Michael Nash

Michael Nash
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3330 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Pasadena, CA

Posted 20 July 2006 - 02:09 PM

It's undeniable that we're seeing a "paradigm shift" in the studio/feature film industry; theatrical releases have been experiencing a decline in returns while newer media (DVD's, internet, pod/phone-casting etc.) are growing. That doesn't automatically explain the whole scenario of course (since programming can shift from theater to DVD, for example), but there is undoubtedly a change going on.

But we've also seen shake-ups in the business models over the past couple decades in many industries, where large corporations down-size and outsourced in the 90's. In our industry, technology has made it possible for small "lightweight" boutiques to flourish while larger behemoths collapse under their own weight. The commercial & music video industry went through this already in the 90's. And I've said it before that the technological and economic changes in the movie industry are preceded by the music industry. If you want to see where we might be going, look back about 5-10 years at the recording industry.

One thing that may brighten the future - digital distribution can be a lot cheaper than film distribution, the mechanisms and technologies are coming into place where real independents might be able to distribute their own films to art houses - and possibly cut deals with the AMC's, etc. to show in a small house in a multiplex.


I guess if the price of projectors gets low enough this could happen. The obstacle so far has been figuring out who's going to pay for the projectors.

I'm not pretending I understand all the details of such business, but I guess I expect and accept that "change is the only constant." But it can be devastating when you get the rug pulled out from under you unexpectedly.
  • 0

#9 Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 182 posts
  • Other
  • Toronto, Canada via Huntington Beach, California

Posted 20 July 2006 - 03:53 PM

"Its Pixar and Miramax units will not be affected by the shake-up, the company indicated. Oren Aviv, who has held the title of chief creative officer, will oversee live-action development and production. "

Hello All,

I had to laugh to myself when I read a part of the original news story quote at the top of this thread.

The news guy who wrote the story did his readers a bit of a dis-service in the way he mentions "Disney's Pixar Unit"

In fact, the wildly succesful Pixar, is not "owned" by Disney, but by Apple Computer CEO and boy wonder Steve Jobs. In fact, Pixar has dropped Disney (who distributes Pixar'a films) this year and is looking for a new partner to distribute their films.

I couldn't believe that Disney didn't "pony up" with a better distribution deal to keep Pixar. Let's see.... all of Pixar's films have been hits, making hundreds of millions of dollars...do you think we should keep this relationship? You don't have to be a Harvard business grad to figure that one out.

But then again, the suits at Disney couldn't figure that out. Maybe that's way they are getting rid of 650 people?


Mike
  • 0

#10 John Pytlak RIP

John Pytlak RIP

    (deceased)

  • Sustaining Members
  • 3499 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Rochester, NY 14650-1922

Posted 20 July 2006 - 03:57 PM

I thought Disney bought Pixar earlier this year:

http://corporate.dis...0124_pixar.html

http://news.com.com/..._3-6030607.html

http://www.businessw...0124_959402.htm
  • 0

#11 Chris Pritzlaff

Chris Pritzlaff
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 187 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 20 July 2006 - 07:03 PM

"Its Pixar and Miramax units will not be affected by the shake-up, the company indicated. Oren Aviv, who has held the title of chief creative officer, will oversee live-action development and production. "

Hello All,

I had to laugh to myself when I read a part of the original news story quote at the top of this thread.

The news guy who wrote the story did his readers a bit of a dis-service in the way he mentions "Disney's Pixar Unit"

In fact, the wildly succesful Pixar, is not "owned" by Disney, but by Apple Computer CEO and boy wonder Steve Jobs. In fact, Pixar has dropped Disney (who distributes Pixar'a films) this year and is looking for a new partner to distribute their films.

I couldn't believe that Disney didn't "pony up" with a better distribution deal to keep Pixar. Let's see.... all of Pixar's films have been hits, making hundreds of millions of dollars...do you think we should keep this relationship? You don't have to be a Harvard business grad to figure that one out.

But then again, the suits at Disney couldn't figure that out. Maybe that's way they are getting rid of 650 people?
Mike




Actually Disney purchased Pixar and has now absorbed it under the Disney Studios. Pixar's President is now the President of the Pixar and Disney animation studios and John Lasseter is Cheif creative officer of the animation studios and Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering. Steve Jobs has been appointed to Disney's Board of Directors. This is all in the articles posted above.
  • 0

#12 Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 182 posts
  • Other
  • Toronto, Canada via Huntington Beach, California

Posted 20 July 2006 - 07:31 PM

Ahhhhh......OK.....right....now I remember that.

In other news, it seems Dewey has defeated Truman......


Mike
  • 0

#13 Sean Azze

Sean Azze
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 145 posts
  • P.A.

Posted 22 July 2006 - 01:30 PM

All I can say is Disney owes Nina Jacobson a major thank you for passing on "Lady in the Water". What a waste of 2 hours. I'm sorely dissapointed in Night - I hope the guy rethinks his next one. Anyway, I'll finish my rant in "On the Big Screen"
  • 0


Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

Visual Products

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

Wooden Camera

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

Metropolis Post

rebotnix Technologies

Technodolly

CineLab

CineTape

Glidecam

Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks

Tai Audio

Ritter Battery

Opal

Opal

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

CineLab

Paralinx LLC

FJS International, LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Abel Cine

Glidecam

The Slider

Technodolly

Wooden Camera

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Visual Products

Ritter Battery

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Aerial Filmworks

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Metropolis Post

CineTape

Tai Audio