Reuters: Disney Looking at Possibility of Layoffs, Citing Increased Sports Acquisition costs and Moribund Home Video Sales

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Reuters has a report out that Disney is undergoing a cost-cutting review with an eye toward layoffs at the studio and other units.   Factors driving the move include redundancy created by Disney CEO Bob Iger’s string of acquisitions in recent years, and factors such as higher costs in sports acquisition.  The near comatose state of home video is also a factor.  It’s difficult to assess what the full implications are, but since it is Disney who holds the rights to future John Carter movies, at least until 2015, this is news that should be reported.

Exclusive: Disney looks for cost savings, ponders layoffs – sources

via Reuters

Walt Disney Co started an internal cost-cutting review several weeks ago that may include layoffs at its studio and other units, three people with knowledge of the effort told Reuters, in an early sign that big companies may not be finished tightening their belts.

Disney, whose empire spans TV, film, merchandise and theme parks, is exploring cutbacks in jobs it no longer needs because of improvements in technology, one of the people said.

It is also looking at redundant operations that could be eliminated following a string of major acquisitions over the past few years, said the person.

The people did not want to be identified because Disney has not disclosed the internal review.

After years of repeated and sometimes severe cost cutting in the wake of the financial crisis, by last summer it looked as though Corporate America had trimmed all the fat and was back on the path of profits through operating growth. But news Disney is weighing cuts – on the heels of Eli Lilly and Co’s warning last week that cost controls would drive earnings this year – could herald yet another wave of retrenchment.

Disney executives warned in November that the rising cost of sports rights and moribund home video sales would dampen growth.

“We are constantly looking at eliminating redundancies and creating greater efficiencies, especially with the rapid rise in new technology,” said Disney spokeswoman Zenia Mucha.

In terms of profit margin, Disney’s studio is the least profitable of the entertainment conglomerate’s four major product divisions. The studio had a profit margin of 12.3 percent in 2012.

Read the full article


  • Abraham Sherman said
    ~~There would always be time for a reboot six or seven years after Stanton’s “Warlord” was released.~~

    Let’s say stanton start’s his sequel right after finishing ‘Finding Nemo 2″ in 2016. If you use John Carter as a comparison it takes on the average 4 to 5 years to produce these movies, then add six or seven years to that. Then you talking about it being 2034 or so before we get a reboot. I’ll be almost 75 by then.
    Personally I’d rather not wait that long to get a decent adaption.

  • This is off topic but I just have to vent on this. Our favorite movie just can not catch a break. Going through the channels the other night, for the first time I ran across Jihn Carter on Showtime. I said Oh, that’s good, let me spend some time on Barsoom. Yikes they are showing a pan and scan, full frame version of the movie that looks like utter shite ! Some people only see the character and story when watching a movie and others like to luxuriate (?) in their immersion into the world that has been created. JC was that kind of movie for me. It was beautiful to behold, probably a little more subtle and realistic than it should have been given the source material but there is real artistry on the screen for almost every beautifully composed frame of the movie. Unbelievable how this movie has been treated. The tight frame that comes from reformating the image to full frame 16:9 viewing just throws all the compositions and background detail out the f’***ing window and makes it harder to appreciate what is really going on. I was counting on the saturation rotation on cable to help redeem the reputation of the film, but if it is being viewed in this ugly form, it is not going to be half as effective.

    As for the discussion at hand, my own personal opinion is that this version is servicable enough as the introduction to the character, he does become the warrior John Carter by the end of the movie. How many times have we seen Batman become Batman and Spiderman become Spiderman and now this summer Superman become Superman
    I’m sick of these origin stories.

    I would be all for a different studio and director taking up the sequel and, as they did in the Harry Potter films, escalating the level of maturity with each new film. I know they introduced the Therns too early and they witheld the Atmosphere plant but if the trilogy were to continue I would envision it as such. The thrust of GOM could still be captured because Issis is doing the same thing to the Therns that the Therns are doing to the green and red men of Mars and the Atmosphere plant could be added to the finale of WOM to raise the stakes even higher.

  • I want both, the sequels and the remake. And the animated show too. And Carson and Caspak and the Moon and Pellucidar and The Eternal Lover also. Everybody should be exposed to ERB’s work in one way or another. I want the video games and the mugs, the action figures and the bed sheets, the comics and the Woola plush.

    For that to happen, we’ve got to have at least one widely recognized success not-named-Tarzan (experience proved that Tarzan’s success only leads to more Tarzan). I still think the best way is for Andrew Stanton to at least make the second one, but I doubt any studio would allow him to do that. It’s a shame, because for many viewers he accomplished something great and worthy of a follow-up (I’m among them). With any luck Stanton will have grown in the meantime as a filmmaker, because failures are perhaps more important than triumphs to learn something. And yes, that could mean having a positive hero for the sequel (all signs point to that at the end of John Carter anyway), and reading more carefully what ERB wrote, and how and why he wrote it that way and not another way (again I don’t think the shape-shifting Therns are that strong of a game-changer, as long as they have somebody above them).

    But yes, I want the reboot too. I want the Robert Rodriguez version of A Princess of Mars, a straightforward swashbuckling adaptation, Frazetta-style. I want Alexa Vega as Dejah Thoris:

    (and Lady Gaga as Phaidor for the sequel) I want Jeff Doten as costume and art designer, teaming with Joe Jusko:

    Robert Rodriguez knows how to adapt works without reinventing the wheel. Sin City was at the same time a great, faithful adaptation, and a fine movie in its own right. If Robert Rodriguez doesn’t want to direct, my second favorite is Zach Snyder.

    Jon Favreau is still out there too, I want to see his “Man Called Horse” take on the story.

    And if only Spielberg could be interested in Barsoom…

    I want to see the live jetan game on a big screen, and ultimately Tan Hadron and Tavia too.

    I want all this, and now… A fanboy can dream… ?

  • Abraham Sherman wrote:
    “my view, strictly in terms of the “scales of justice” and “stick it to the man” factors, I would love to see Andrew Stanton get to finish his trilogy. That would teach the industry and the media not to dog-pile and dismiss films in such nasty and undeserved ways as were demonstrated during the John Carter roll-out and theater run.”

    Look I like sticking it to “the man” but in this case “the men” who need sticking are Andrew Stanton and Disney. I agree that the media shouldn’t have just dismissed the film sight unseen the way they did but at the same time Stanton did bring this own himself with his comments to the press about how better the Pixar method was and how money meant little to him. Also from the storytelling point of view I would rather have a director and/or writer stick it to Stanton and his collegues and actually make a John Carter of Mars film that is faithful because the major problem with the film Stanton made was his arrogant dismissal of ERB’s work, his “I can improve this” mentality that in many ways destroyed the film, from the confusing opening to turning Carter into a selfish and for a vast majority of the film unlikable character.

    That’s why I want a reboot because allowing Stanton to continue will only result in more of the same and honestly ERB deserves better. The fans of his work deserves better. So in short stick a fork in him. He’s done. It would also be justice to show Disney-especially Robert Iger-that this story is worth telling and supporting and that quality should not be sacrificed for the lowest common denominator or to keep John Lassiter and Stanton happy. So getting another studio to reboot it and do it successfully would be sticking it to Iger. Attempting to petition them to do another one doesn’t accomplish that.

  • MCR – “So it’s possible another studio might pick up John Carter of Mars but the question is can they make a sequel to Disney’s film or would it be better to reboot?”

    I know there are strong differences of opinion about which possibility people would prefer – sequel or reboot – but in my view, strictly in terms of the “scales of justice” and “stick it to the man” factors, I would love to see Andrew Stanton get to finish his trilogy. That would teach the industry and the media not to dog-pile and dismiss films in such nasty and undeserved ways as were demonstrated during the John Carter roll-out and theater run. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed John Carter and Battleship, so seeing Taylor Kitsch get another go in this franchise, with a better result at the box office, would be very cool.

    There would always be time for a reboot six or seven years after Stanton’s “Warlord” was released.

    But if it’ll have to be another studio, I’m wondering if the John Carter production team still has the drive to continue. Or have they moved on to other, possibly less risky projects? Stanton will be busy with Nemo 2 until after the John Carter rights expire at Disney, as far as we know. There would have to be a real, ambitious pursuit and some deft salesmanship from the top levels of the production team to see a John Carter sequel set up at another studio. Narnia, at least, had Walden Media’s continual involvement, which is probably what enabled “Dawn Treader” to be made elsewhere. Who does John Carter have to carry the torch? This would also require that Disney be willing to let it go soon, and that another studio would be willing to pick it up. Or perhaps the production team is waiting for 2015, when movement will be easier? We know that in the last six months Mark Andrews and Jim Morris have mentioned wanting to do a sequel (I don’t remember if Stanton has mentioned a sequel since the release in March), but was that just to encourage the fans, or do they have real plans? It speaks to the decency of the folks who worked on John Carter that none of them have purposely distanced themselves from the project, but meanwhile, do they maintain real intentions of moving forward with the franchise?

    In light of those unanswered questions, the idea of a reboot seems much less encumbered and much more likely. The Barsoom source material is lightning in a bottle, and if the right ambitious studio, with the right talented filmmakers, wants to take lessons from the Disney project and present Barsoom with a different slant, there is certainly a much more primed audience out there waiting for it.

  • Abraham Sherman wrote:
    “I don’t know what precedents there are for a sequel being made at a different studio, but barring that, there is always the possibility of a reboot made elsewhere.”

    Well its more common than most people think. Recent examples included Disney dumping the Chronicles of Narnia series after Prince Caspian and Fox making the third one; Joss Whedon’s Firefly TV series, which was produced by Fox but the movie spinoff Serenity produced by Universal; Hellboy II: The Golden Army, also produced by Universal after Sony dropped the rights and (because it just came out) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, which has ran through various studios and distributors in its near 40 year run. So it’s possible another studio might pick up John Carter of Mars but the question is can they make a sequel to Disney’s film or would it be better to reboot?

  • I wonder if that could mean the end of Disney’s movie division for movies more ambitious than Hannah Montana and High School Musical… I guess it all depends now on the success of Lone Ranger and Oz. I can’t help but be concerned with those two movies, I wonder if the characters are well known outside America (they are certainly not that popular in France). But I was concerned too about the Narnia movies, and they proved to be successful in the whole world, so…

  • No problem. I saw it earlier today in an ERBlist ( message from Tangor (David Bozarth), moderator of the list.

    From the article:

    Cuts are most likely at the studio, said two of the three sources, where the strategy has changed to focus on fewer films and rely more on outside producers such as Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks studio, which finances its own films and pays Disney a fee to market and distribute them.

    The film strategy shift began when Iger took over as CEO in late 2005. Under Iger, the company purchased “Toy Story” creator Pixar Animation and Marvel, which brought it characters such as “Thor” and “Iron Man” that featured in this summer’s blockbuster hit “The Avengers.”

    Disney completed a $4.06 billion acquisition of “Star Wars” creator George Lucas’ Lucasfilm in December, and has said that it will begin producing new installments of the lucrative franchise in 2015, and make a film every two to three years.”

    Not exactly an encouraging sign for a prospective John Carter sequel.

    Now, if only Disney were interested in making a little money by selling those John Carter rights to another studio ahead of the 2015 cutoff… just sayin’. 🙂 I don’t know what precedents there are for a sequel being made at a different studio, but barring that, there is always the possibility of a reboot made elsewhere.

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