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Silent Bob

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Whether you love their films or hate them, everyone has to admit that Disney was, at one time, the undisputed giant when it came to quality children's entertainment. With an incredible string of great movies (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, etc.), television animation that dominated Saturday morning and weekday afternoons (Ducktales, TailSpin, Darkwing Duck, etc.), and theme parks around the world that were absolutely unrivaled in the experience of entertainment they provided, it seemed like Disney could never be knocked off its pedestal.


And that's partially true.


From the looks of the House of Mouse, now, it doesn't look like the Disney corporation has been knocked off. It slipped.


With a string of seemingly horrendous and self-sabotaging decisions, Disney has really bumped itself down a notch. And it isn't because of bad movies (though there have been a few), it isn't because of bad TV (though there's some of that, too) and it isn't because the theme parks are lacking in quality (though they are lacking in value). It's because of some decisions made by a board of directors headed by the anti-Christ himself, Michael Eisner. Let's look at a few of the more recent ones:


- Disney, Eisner in particular, has been unable to negotiate a new contract with Pixar, despite the fact that Pixar has produced some of the most commercially and critically successful animated films of all time (20th Century Fox, however, seems more than willing to offer Pixar whatever they want).


- Eisner himself announced that The Haunted Mansion would be the last ride-based movie produced by the company. While, normally I would applaud a decision like this, it was announced just weeks after Pirates of the Caribbean became one of the most profitable movies of the summer.


- After the controversy stemmed from Tarantino's over-violent Kill Bill, and this week's distasteful Bad Santa, Disney is seriously considering dropping the Miramax company, even though last year Miramax held more Oscar nominations than any other movie studio (as well as producing three of the last seven Best Picture winners).


- Disney has decided to shut down its animation studio in Orlando, laying off almost 300 of the world's best animators (already a small number thanks to thousands of layoffs in recent years). The Orlando studio has only made three films since it was founded. Its first two were some of Disney's biggest commercial and critical successes, in recent years - Mulan and Lilo & Stitch (the recent Brother Bear was the third and final one). Also note that the company allotted much smaller budgets to Orlando projects than the ones done in California (crap like Atlantis, Dinosaur, Treasure Planet) so successes are all the more profitable.


- On that note, let's mention the fact that in the last six years or so, Disney has laid off almost 80% of its animation staff...and then they wonder why they no longer dominate the feature animation market.



...I have more gripes, but I'll have to get back to this.

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Oh yeah, then there's this bit from IMDb:


Disney Pulls Out of 'Peter Pan' Movie in Dispute with Hospital


Disney was being depicted as a Scrooge after it dropped out of a new $140-million film version of Peter Pan over a merchandising dispute involving the distribution of profits to the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. In his will, Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie had transferred the copyright to the hospital, which subsequently made a deal with Disney, in which it receives a regular annual payment for rights to the story. Disney continues to dispute the hospital's claim to a percentage of profits from Peter Pan merchandise that Disney produces. A Disney spokeswoman said, "We did not want to be in a situation where we were paying twice." But the London Daily Telegraph quoted an unnamed producer connected with the film as saying, "The bottom line is that [Disney] wanted a share of the merchandising but did not want to pay for it."

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Also from IMDb:


Disney Quits Disney



In what some analysts interpreted as a veritable declaration of war, Roy E. Disney resigned from the Walt Disney Company's board of directors and dispatched a letter to Michael Eisner, the company's chairman and CEO, calling on him to leave the company, too. Although it was known that the Disney board had asked Roy Disney and two other board members to retire under corporate-governance guidelines adopted last year making retirement mandatory for directors over the age of 72 (Roy Disney is 73), the blunt nature of Disney's open letter to Eisner -- it covered three typewritten pages -- stunned several observers. Under Eisner's leadership, it said, the company "has lost its focus, its creative energy, and its heritage." Disney presented a laundry list of complaints about Eisner's alleged management failures, including the continued poor performance of ABC-TV and the Disney theme parks, his inability "to establish a clear succession plan," his ineffectiveness at establishing a strong relationship company partners, including Pixar Animation Studios, and his penchant for "micro-management ... with the resulting loss of morale throughout this company." Disney accused Eisner of driving "a wedge between me and those I work with even to the extent of requiring some of my associates to report my conversations and activities back to you." Finally, Disney wrote, "It is my sincere belief that it is you who should be leaving and not me. Accordingly, I once again call for your resignation or retirement. The Walt Disney Co. deserves fresh, energetic leadership at this challenging time in its history just as it did in 1984, when I headed a restructuring which resulted in your recruitment." A meeting of the Walt Disney board is scheduled to take place in New York today (Monday) and Tuesday.

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I'm glad that Disney has finally started to take a step towards the more adultish type of material in their films, at leat compared to the normal ones that they have done in the past, ala Pirates of the Carribean. Theres a new generation for Disney to get in touch with and they're kidie flicks around going to be keeping them among the top forever.

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