Excellent Discussion of Why Disney Has Trouble filling the studio chief job

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Claude Brodesser-Akner is the author of the often cited and  infamous Vulture.com piece pinning the blame for John Carter marketing woes on Andrew Stanton, and I have gone on record as disputing much of that article — not because the author misrepresented what he had told by his “Disney marketing mole”, but rather because he didn’t apply a critical filter to the continuous stream of self-serving commentary about the marketing situation that his single source from inside Disney marketing served up to him.  Essentially, Disney marketing used that article as a channel to shift blame from themselves, to Stanton, and there was no counterargument included in the article from anyone on Stanton’s side of the argument.
That said, there were aspects of that article that resonated and showed good contacts and good understanding — and now the same author has come forth with a good breakdown of why Disney is having a hard time filling the studio chief slot.  Here it is:

Does Disney Have an Identity Crisis?

Things have been wild and, well, Woola at Walt Disney Studios this year. The ebullience felt over last weekend’s $200 million opening of The Avengers was tempered by the fact that the studio had to take a $200 million loss on March’sJohn Carter. Such a spectacular failure didn’t just highlight how dependent Disney has become on outside brands like Marvel, it also cost the studio chairman, Rich Ross, his job late last month.

But lost in all the media speculation and Hollywood chatter about who might replace the recently defenestrated chairman is a larger question that must be on the minds of potential candidates: What does “Disney” mean in 2012?

It is a brand that, almost since its founding in 1923, has become synonymous with family. But since he took over from Michael Eisner in 2005, Disney’s CEO Bob Iger has been busy spending billions of dollars to acquire costly pinch hitters that now threaten to eclipse the Mouse: $4 billion for Marvel in 2009; $7.4 billion for Pixar in 2006; the Muppets from the Jim Henson Company in 2004 for an undisclosed sum, said to be less than a quarter of a billion dollars.

“In a strange way,” Iger told Fortune magazine in a profile published yesterday, “I am the brand manager of Disney.” It’s a curious strategy that has paid off for Disney’s stock price, which has shot up 80 percent under Iger’s tenure, but it also seems to be taking a heavy toll on the Disney brand. As one rival studio chief puts it, “Bob Iger is the CEO of a company; Michael Eisner was the CEO ofDisney.”

Read the rest at Vulture.com


  • When I first saw the John Carter trailers, I knew I’d go see the movie, but I also flinched when the Disney banner flashed on the screen. I still associate Disney with movies for little kids, and I didn’t want to see a movie for kids. They should release PG action-adventure movies like JC that have nothing to do with Disney properties under a different studio banner. Maybe use their deal with DreamWorks. Guess that’s the point of this article; other than Pirates of the Caribbean and older Disney properties, what does the Disney name have for movie franchises? What’s their brand? Pixar dominates on animated kids movies. Marvel, DreamWorks and Pixar seem to keep their movies at a safe distance from the Disney name.

  • Your both right!

    Now days studios make 100% off of the profit off of the first 2 weeks. That’s the real reason a bag of popcorn costs $5.50. The movie pulled in just shy of 200 million profit for disney in the first 2 weeks. Most of the profit comes from the up front performance.( Which is why the film needed to make 60 million early on to be profitable. An unreallistic amount for a February date.) Assuming I’m wrong then they still made 60% of the World Wide Gross which is still 200 million. Either way they made 200-260 million off of the Epic John Carter giving them a stagering 90-150 million dollar loss for the quarter.

    Notice that they used the words “operating loss”. This is because the studio is still operating even though the movie was already in the can. Since John Carter didn’t make 500 million, profit, there is going to be an operating loss for the Studio. It’s unfair to attribute all of that 84 million to John Carter. But they still have to write off their epic excuse for advertising, 100 million, until the DVD, Blu-Ray and rentals start making the movie profitable.

  • Hi Khanada ….nooooooooo….sad to say, the way this has been reported is confusing but here it is. Disney on March 20 announced that it would be taking a 200m write-down on John Carter and this write-down would cause the Studio to post a loss of between 80 and 120m overall for the quarter ending March 31st. In the reporting that came out this week, the 200m writedown is intact, and the loss is 84m overall for the studio. Wish it were otherwise, but that’s how it is. ;-(

  • Once again they list $200 mil, which is OLD news! It’s just about $80 mil now, right? Sure, the article lists some good points, but once again it starts out making me cringe and growl Woola-fashion over it’s misrepresentation of the numbers and once again, the parroting of other media “professionals.” It’s like they LOOOVE dissing John Carter. Like it’s their fun new pastime. I feel like slamming them repeatedly against the floor, Hulk style, over it!

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