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The BLOGFlume—Let The Madness Begin

Iger to take over, Slots in Sandusky, and Robots rule the box...

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: March 13, 2005 at 7:26 PM

The brackets have been announced, and battles are ready to be waged. From Cinderellas to number 1 seeds, everyone will be talking NCAA basketball. I get the madness every year, but much to my dismay, my Terps couldn’t sneak into the big dance, and instead I will have to root for my wife’s George Washington Colonials (not a team I will probably pick in my brackets—shh, don’t tell her). Along with the NCAA March Madness, theme parks are getting into gear to start staging their own madness with regional parks opening their gates in the coming weeks, and some major news around the industry.

Heir to the Throne
New York Times 3/13/05

Walt Disney has made it official, by promoting Robert Iger to the position of Chief Executive Officer. This decision comes very quickly, since current leader Michael Eisner was not slated to step down until the end of his contract in September 2006. Instead Iger will begin his new position in September 2005, and Eisner will be phased out on October 1, 2005. In addition, Eisner will not seek a leadership position on the Disney board, or even a seat on the board. The Eisner Era ends with the end of traditional animation, a questionable relationship and uncertain future with its primary computer animation company, a breakup with two of the most successful movie moguls in history, and a roster of theme parks that are starting to all look alike. It would be an understatement to say that Iger has his work cut out for him. He has a number of situations to deal with, and while he has proved himself to be a good executive by managing ABC through a network ratings recession, he has never had to make any decisions on the order of magnitude that will face him when he takes the reigns.

Can Iger succeed in the shadow of Eisner?

It’s going to be tough. Every decision will be second-guessed by the board and stockholders alike, and in many cases people will look at every detail of his performance in comparison to what Michael Eisner would do. Like him or not, Michael Eisner came to Disney on a white horse, and turned a small theme park company and movie studio into an entertainment giant. Eisner made Disney into a behemoth that many highly regarded executives wouldn’t want to run for all of the money in the world. Iger’s relationship with Eisner is going to make it even more difficult, as many critics have seen Iger as nothing more than a “yes” man for Eisner. Iger will have to quickly make a name for himself to get out from Eisner’s shadow, and quell critics who will be watching his every move. Iger would make a lot of fans by sealing a deal with Pixar, which should be one of the first items on his “to-do” list at the end of this year. Luckily Iger will never have to face Eisner in the boardroom. However, much like a coach of a sports team, following a legendary figure is not easy, and success is something that is not typical from successors of legends. Everyone remembers the legendary coaches, but does anyone remember the guy who took over from the legend? Mike Davis took Indiana to the NCAA title game with mostly Bobby Knight’s team, only to lose to Maryland (I just had to say that), and hasn’t come close since. It took the Green Bay Packers almost 30 years to win a Super Bowl after the departure of Vince Lombari. The Lakers are struggling to make the playoffs after Phil Jackson left (partly because of the departure of Shaq also). Expectations are sky high for Robert Iger, and you have to wonder why someone would want all of the pressure that comes along with the title of CEO of the Walt Disney Company. We’ll have to see how he performs, and if he can bring a new renaissance of creativity to a company that used to be the most creative on the planet.

I Wouldn’t Bet On It
Thrill Network 3/11/05

With poker on just about every cable channel, and Las Vegas growing faster than mold on month-old bread, gambling is becoming one of the most lucrative industries in the country. Many states are taking up propositions to add some sort of gaming to their tourist regions. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, Maryland has been debating for years to add slot machines to its rapidly degrading horse racing tracks, with West Virginia and Delaware already permitting the practice, and the improving Atlantic City only a short drive away. Ohio is the newest state with aspirations of luring tourists to their state with the ringing bells and flashing lights of slot machines. With Michigan and West Virginia so close to many major cities in Ohio permitting slot machines, Ohio has introduced a proposition to allow the addition of gambling attractions to any city with over 50,000 residents or counties that draw over one million visitors per year. That includes the area surrounding Cedar Point, and King’s Island. Richard Kinzel, the current head of Cedar Fair, has said that they are interested in the proposition, and would add attractions that would take advantage if it were to become law. Everyone has lauded the additions of casinos across the country in rehabilitating the areas where they are located because of the increased tax revenue and money casino guests add to the local economy. Whether Kinzel wants to build Las Vegas Land next to Millennium Force or just add a couple of slots to the arcade is anyone’s guess. However, if a casino is his intent, I would have to question that decision. It would be the first time a casino would be built near a theme park. I know Adventure Dome is in Vegas along with a lot of other theme park-style attractions, but Vegas and gambling were already there before the theme parks came. While a casino would draw people to Sandusky, it probably would have more of a negative effect on Cedar Point. Families and casinos should not mix, as Las Vegas found out in the 90’s. Cedar Fair needs to be really careful not to jump into an industry aimed solely at adults when they are a company based on entertaining families. While it has worked in a limited form in Las Vegas, generally casinos and coasters do not mix.

Top Robots
CNN.com 3/13/05

Fox’s Robots topped this weekend’s box office with a surprisingly low $36.5 million. Disney’s The Pacifier held strong in second with a respectable $18 million, only a 40% decrease from last week. Robots was created by the makers of Ice Age, but was unable to match that film’s opening of $46.3 million. With the star power of Ewan McGregor, Halle Barry, Greg Kinnear, Paul Giamatti, Jay Leno, James Earl Jones, Mel Brooks, Amanda Bynes, Drew Carey, and the amazing voice talent of Robin Williams, Robots had more bankable stars than the 77th Academy Awards. I, for one, am stunned that this movie was not able to make more money in its first weekend of release, and I’m sure Fox is really disappointed with the movie’s showing. With a 64% positive rating on Rottentomatoes.com, and all that star power and their media blitz over the past week, Robots has to be one of the biggest surprises of this year so far. One reason for its less-than-stellar opening week performance could be the lack of screenings. I was not aware of any screenings in my area, and it took until late last week before there were enough reviews to have a rating on Rottentomatoes.com, which suggests that there were very few sneak previews around the country for this movie. Other than that, it’s hard to explain how Robots underperformed, and how last week’s champ The Pacifier has overachieved. The movie biz is a tricky one, but based on this weekend’s results, don’t expect any Robots attractions any time soon.

Readers' Opinions

From Kevin Baxter on March 13, 2005 at 7:42 PM
Iger is a joke! It's his meddling - along with Eisner's but moreso - that has hurt ABC. One article I read claimed Iger was the reason behind ABC's recent success. Which is total crap. The now-fired Lloyd Braun was the person who forced Desperate Housewives and Lost onto the schedule. In fact, Eisner has continuously badmouthed Lost since it has been on the air. How stoopid is that? Just like his public comments questioning the quality of Finding Nemo. As quality-challenged as Iger is, at least he knows when to take credit... even when he doesn't deserve it.

As for Robots, I am a little surprised it didn't do better. Part of the problem may have been the lackluster ad campaign. Yeah, it was everywhere, but none of it was particularly funny. And there is a LARGE portion of the moviegoing audience that LOATHES Robin Williams (and I am one of them). I think many people would be fine with him in small portions, and I believe he only has a small role in the film. Even if you love him, the ads really make it seem as if this is a Williams extravaganza. Shrek and Shrek 2 were sold on the characters, not on the stars. Same with all the Pixar films. When has an animated film succeeded on a campaign focusing on the voice talent? People want story, and where was the story in these ads. Still, during this wretched season it should stick around for a long while and make over $100M.

That said... HAHAHAHAHA Michael Eisner leaves a year early!!!! Even though a certain moron claims I predicted this - when I didn't - I will NOW say I did predict this!!! Yay for me!!!

From Chuck Campbell on March 13, 2005 at 8:10 PM
I imagine "Robots" will turn a respectable profit. But the reviews both positive and negative can be summed up as follows: "It looks cool but . . ." Can anybody name another movie last year that garnered similar reviews and pulled in about the same amount of money during its opening weekend? How about "Sky Captain"? And it bombed.

Robin Williams's appeal is becoming "more selective." And it won't be the first time that strong, "marquee value" voice talent has been brought in to beef up a weak animated flick--Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" is a good example here.

From steve lee on March 13, 2005 at 8:58 PM
Nothing to add on the Eisner/Iger situation - I'm sure the blowhards will cover that category just fine.

I'm surprised Robots didn't do better as well, considering the nice banner ad at Disney.com (am I the only one who's going insane trying to figure out how Fox pulled that one off?)

From Justin Smith on March 13, 2005 at 9:17 PM
"When has an animated film succeeded on a campaign focusing on the voice talent?"

How about nearly every Dreamworks film to date. All of their animated films contain big star like Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Robert Diniro, Ben Stiller, Mel Gibson, Cathera-Zeta-Jones, the list goes on and on. However since Ice Age was a hit I was expecting Robots to have better box office too. I was guessing about 48 million but i was about 10 million off. BTW, I don't know many people who loathes Robin Williams(except for Dreamworks and Disney)

As for Iger being next CEO I hope not since he is as bad as Eisner. I hope they can get Steve Jobs to be the next CEO!

From Derek Potter on March 13, 2005 at 9:42 PM
Iger next CEO...blah blah blah...totally predictable. Eisner did great things in the 80's and 90's, only to send it to hell in a handbasket with the new millennium. Iger had a part in it too, indeed he has been touted as a yes man....possibly to get to where he is now??? or is he a clone. (God help Disney if he is). Regardless of Eisner's status as one of the worst CEOs in recent years, Iger will be compared to him and will be put under the microscope..possibly in more ways than Eisner ever was.

I'm not that surprised that Dick Kinzel would be for legalizing gambling. It would be a very lucrative enterprise for Cedar Fair (or anyone else). I don't see a casino or slots within Cedar Point gates (bad idea), but I do see Cedar Fair having themselves a riverboat casino operation on Lake Erie...docking in the marina that they own (not so bad idea). If they keep it out to sea and separate from the park, than it could work as a seperate entity.

From Kevin Baxter on March 14, 2005 at 1:38 AM
Justin, learn to read. I said, "When has one SUCCEEDED when the focus was on the voice talent." You name people from films that WEREN'T successful and films that HAVEN'T EVEN COME OUT YET! Yes, some films have focused more on the talent, like Matt Damon in that horse thing, and Catherine Zeta Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer in that boat thing, BUT THEY DIDN'T SUCCEED! Are you the new THC???

Plus, the Shrek movies DID NOT focus on the talent. The basic storylines were put out there long before the movies were. Furthermore, have you not noticed that everywhere else Eddie Murphy is box office poison??? Who'd dare make him the focus of an ad campaign?

Shark Tale may be the only one that has done well with commercials touting the voice talent, but there are two problems comparing it to Robots:

1) Will Smith gets people into the theaters. The dreadfully mundane Hitch is a perfect example of this freakish phenomenon. Robin Williams doesn't anymore. If you can get one of the sure sells, and there are only a handful of them, then - AND ONLY THEN - you sell that person.

2) Shark Tale's commercials didn't FOCUS on the cast. The previews and most commercials told the story and showed the cast at the end. I haven't seen Shark Tale but I sure know what it was about. I haven't seen Robots and I really have no clue what it is about... except robots. People need to know what to expect if they are going to plunk down money to see a movie. All you know to expect from Robots is Williams' tired shtick. That won't cut it.

Still, I don't think it will die quickly. Easier competition than in summer, fall or winter.

From Mark Hollamon on March 14, 2005 at 1:49 AM
Wow Kevin, you are quite a movie critic. I never knew you were so talented.
From TH Creative on March 14, 2005 at 5:04 AM
"Yay for me?"

I wonder exactly how many qualified people were actually considered for the CEO position -- and how many of those candidates were really interested in the job. A cursory examination of those names could very well lead to the discovery that most of the qualified candidates were simply satisfied with their current jobs. Jeffrey Bewekes of Time Warner (who Mr. Eisner attempted to recruit in 2004), Terry Semel of Yahoo (formerly Warner Brothers) and Meg Whitman of Ebay all have mortal locks on their seven figure salaries. Former Viacom President Mel Karmazan sided on as CEO of satellitie radio.

Early reports indicate that my favorite candidate Peter Chernin wanted complete control of the company and probably demanded a salary that was too much for the board to accept. His current salary at Newscorp excedes $20 million plus bonuses. Mr. Eisner's was only a million plus bonuses.

Ultimately, it seems reasonable to assume that Mr. Iger may have been the only qualified candidate who wanted the job.

Watch for Iger to continue Disney's push into the Far East. He has said in interviews that he would like to see a Disney park on Mainland China. With Disney boasting about more than 10,000 reservations made at its new park in Hong Kong a China or Korean park seems inevitable.

Whether or not he mends fences with Pixar is incidental. Disney has clearly been better off without Pixar. Had they signed a contract with Steve Jobs they would have made millions less on 'The Incredibles.' Now Disney can fall back on 'Chicken Little,' 'Toy Story 3' and 'Cars.'

As for Mr. Baxter's boastful assertion (chuckle) that he predicted Mr. Eisner's early departure (just as he predicted that Disney would lose the Pooh case and that Disney stock would drop into the teens subjecting it to another take over attempt): Clearly Mr. Eisner is departing on his own terms -- as opposed to being forced out. His hand-picked successor has been named CEO. He still holds a huge chunk of the company's stock and maintains the ear of the company's CEO and board of directors. If that is truly the context that Mr. Baxter predicted regarding Michael Eisner's departure, then bravo.

However if he predicted that Eisner would be forced out due to poor performance, falling stock prices, economic circumstance combined with the efforts of Roy "Fredo" Disney ("You can't fire me! I quit!") his cry "Yay for me!" seems rather self-serving.

From TH Creative on March 14, 2005 at 5:24 AM
The next shoe to drop will be the announcement of who might become Iger's nuts and bolts guy. Who is going to be named President at Disney?

Maybe Jeffrey Bewkes? Hmmm...

From Justin Smith on March 14, 2005 at 7:55 AM
"Plus, the Shrek movies DID NOT focus on the talent. The basic storylines were put out there long before the movies were. Furthermore, have you not noticed that everywhere else Eddie Murphy is box office poison??? Who'd dare make him the focus of an ad campaign?"

Yes they did. Did you see those posters that said Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Camerian Diaz on it with the character they're voicing? They actually mentioned all the vioce actors with every advertising piece for Shrek ever made. Plus Robots released a new tralier that told a little what the story is about so you can't agure with that. And Madagascar is doing the same voice actor advertising thing and it might be a hit, sadly. And Sharktale did the same thing and it did pretty well. So both SharkTale and Shrek did it and they became popular.

From Robert Niles on March 14, 2005 at 10:53 AM
The prominent names on animated movies' posters are there for star egos, more than any other reason. I don't think they contribute a dime to a movie's B.O. Voices don't open an animated movie the way stars can open a traditional film.

Trailers help determine, more than anything, how much of the huge family audience will turn out for an animated feature in its first week. After that, word of mouth and reviews determine whether the film will break out to a larger audience. A great vocal performance can help (Myers in Shrek, Williams in Aladdin), but a name alone will not (Pitt in Sinbad, Allen in Antz).

From Jason Moore on March 14, 2005 at 1:20 PM
I thought Robots looked to possibly be worth a look, but much of the advertising is turning me off. They seem to be shoving Williams down our throats, but to me it's just the same old annoyying Robin voice with different drawings. Isn't Ewan Mcgregor the actual "lead" caharcter??
From TH Creative on March 14, 2005 at 1:49 PM
Perhaps the best assessment of the management changes taking place at Disney was published by the Financial Times:

"Michael Eisner is, in his own words, finally "re-stocking his Mickey Mouse backpack" to strike out for adventures outside Walt Disney. But the media group's board has failed to seize the opportunity for a clean break. Questions remain over how closely Mr Eisner, chief executive for 20 years, was involved in the process of selecting his successor. Also it is unclear how wholeheartedly directors embraced the idea of an outside candidate; Robert Iger, chief operating officer and Mr Eisner's preferred choice, was named the sole internal candidate last year. The appointment of Mr Iger, an insider with deep knowledge of the company, is no disaster. Disney's performance has, after all, improved recently. But it hardly represents a blast of fresh air. And while Mr Eisner will step down a year earlier than planned, he will stay on the board for a six month transition period from September. That hardly seems necessary given Mr Iger's deep familiarity with Disney. On the plus side, Mr Eisner has promised he will not ask to stay on as a director beyond next spring, or seek the chairmanship. Investors must hope the board is wise enough not to offer it to him.
Mr Eisner transformed Disney during his tenure. However, the group has entered a new stage. Mr Eisner should go and climb the new mountains he seeks. Mr Iger can then set about proving to investors that he can be more than the side-kick of his old boss. To do so, he must turn Disney's recent revival into sustainable long-term growth."

From Justin Smith on March 14, 2005 at 2:43 PM
"A great vocal performance can help (Myers in Shrek, Williams in Aladdin)"

Actually Myers didn't really help but Eddie Murphy. It's usually the co-stars that makes the person want to see a movie like Murphy in Mulan and Shrek, or Williams in Aladdin.

From Derek Potter on March 14, 2005 at 6:01 PM
A great vocal performance can help an animated film, but I don't think that people really care who does the voice as long as it's good. If it's Mike Myers, great, if it's Robert Niles, fine (I guess).
From Michael Patalano on March 14, 2005 at 6:27 PM
"The now-fired Lloyd Braun was the person who forced Desperate Housewives and Lost onto the schedule."
Yes, he fired the greenlighter of Lost. That same person he fired also greenlit such failures as Karen Sisco, Kingdom Hospital, and Line of Fire. It is the current ABC magangement team (Sweeny and McPhearson) that marketet it right and placed it in the right timeslot.
From Robert Niles on March 14, 2005 at 7:10 PM
My voice? Ugh. Though I am known to do a pretty decent Mr. Burns. ("Excellent....")

Headline of the day award goes to the SaveDisney press release on Iger's appointment:

"Wicked Witch Melted, Winged Monkey Takes Mantle"

Ouch!

From Derek Potter on March 14, 2005 at 8:12 PM
I've got a pretty good Napoleon Dynamite impression myself.
I saw that headline on the savedisney email I received. Nice analogy, but why is savedisney acting like they ousted Eisner? And what other mountains is ol' Mike going to climb...none. If I'm in my 60's and sitting pretty like that, I'm either going to the most secluded paradise island I can find, or I'd become the part time old dude operating the train at Kings Island just to have something to do.
From Chuck Campbell on March 14, 2005 at 8:41 PM
My problem with using "marquee-value" stars as voice talent is that it's difficult to separate the actor or actress from the character. When one thinks of the Mad Hatter, Ed Wynn comes to mind (if one has seen Disney's Alice in Wonderland). If it's a genie, it's Robin Williams. Old voice actors, such as Paul Frees, Mel Blanc, and June Foray, were more versatile. Their work makes you concentrate on the character, not the actor.
From Kevin Baxter on March 15, 2005 at 5:14 AM
Shrek 2 did not become the all-time animated king because of Michael Myers, Cameron Diaz or Eddie Murphy. It became Number One because of Shrek, Fiona and Donkey. Finding Nemo isn't number two because of Ellen DeGeneres or Albert Brooks. People wanted to see a film about a daddy fish finding his lost son. The Incredibles didn't do over $200M because of the dude from Coach. Justin, you need to understand the meaning of the word "focus." The FOCUS of those ad campaigns was NOT on the stars, but the stories. Sure, the stars were often mentioned, BUT THEY WERE NOT THE FRIGGIN' FOCUS OF THE FRIGGIN' AD CAMPAIGNS. Sheesh.

Ice Age opened well because the ads were about that little squirrel thing. (What exactly WAS that?) Plus, there was a lot of humor in the ads too. What's funny in the Robots ads? Certainly not anything Robin Williams says.

Jason and Chuck... I cannot agree with either of you more. STOP with the famous actors with distinctive voices. Sure, I got over Ellen in Nemo cuz she did a great job, but there is no way I will ever get beyond Williams in Robots. MAJOR MISTAKE!

THC, more blatherings as usual, but thank you so much for basically repeating what I have said on here so many times. Disney wasn't going to get anyone good because nobody good wanted to run the place. It got too big for its britches. Why would someone talented want to run a corporation with three major components, two of which rely heavily on creativity and the other on the economy??? If Disney split off the television/movie portions into a NBC Universal-like entity, major talent would be chomping at the bit to run it. But no big-name wants to run a theme park empire nowadays, especially one having as many problems as Disney.

Michael, as for Lloyd Braun also championing those other shows... REALLY bad examples. Karen Cisco was an excellent show, and someone would be a fool to say no to an alliance with Elmore Leonard. Same with Stephen King, who has done some extremely successful things for ABC. Yeah, the show sucked, but you can't blame Braun for going with someone with a good track record at the network. And Line of Fire was a smart, risky choice in a time when The Sopranos reigned supreme.

The problems with these shows failing was stuff like timeslots (both Sisco and Kingdom Hospital premiered opposite the then unbeatable Law & Order and Line of Fire was opposite the more-popular-than-ever SVU) as well as poor marketing. At the time ABC did not have a single powerhouse show to advertise other shows on. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition helped make Desperate Housewives probably more than all the buzz ever did. (Which might explain why it beats the better Lost in the ratings.) What did ABC have when those other shows premiered? Basically, Extreme Makeover: Ugly Face Edition and The Bachelor. Not really the audiences you want for either cop drama. (Yeah, Karen Sisco was a woman, but it was a cop show, not exactly a type of show that shares an audience with The Bachelor.) And hordes of people at least sampled Kingdom Hospital, which quickly plummeted in the ratings when people saw how weird it was.

The way TV works nowadays, you get a hit reality show - because they have simple hooks to to the public... like "Watch them eat cow uterus!" or "Who will this freakazoid end up choosing?" - and then advertise your other shows on it. CBS was able to create their current powerhouse mostly off Survivor. CSI went through the roof after following the show, and it basically turned CBS into into the Jerry Bruckheimer network. Fox used American Idol - and Joe Millionaire and The Swan too - to finally turn 24 into a hit. House is a major hit because of the show. (Arrested Development, like Karen Sisco, does not target the same demographics as its reality show, which is why it isn't benefiting.) NBC is turning around a bad start by using the improved third season of The Apprentice and the always popular Fear Factor to make Medium and L&O: Trial by Jury into Top 20 shows.

ABC has two shows now doing far better than they deserve to be (wherefore art thou, continuity and dialog???) because people were finally watching the net again when they turned on the weepfest Home Edition. And we won't even get into how Iger was the one personally responsible for driving all those people away ("How about Millionaire 50 times a week???). I just pray he will stop his meddling and let someone else do their job at ABC, and at the film studio and theme parks too!

From TH Creative on March 15, 2005 at 10:59 AM
Mr. Baxter Writes: Disney wasn't going to get anyone good because nobody good wanted to run the place.

I Respond: I not certain whether that's true. I think either Peter Chernin or Jeffrey Bewkes would have welcomed the opportunity to run Disney -- under the right conditions. Eisner's departure adds a new dynamic to the company. Any blanket assertion that Disney is inherently unmanagable seems a bit too much of a generalization to have any real validity.

From TH Creative on March 15, 2005 at 12:15 PM
THANK YOU STEVEN MALLAS OF THE 'MOTLEY FOOL.'

"... the success of Robots made me think mostly of the failure of Disney and Pixar to come to terms on a new agreement AND WHY IT WON'T MATTER MUCH TO DISNEY IN THE LONG RUN."

"Simply put, there just isn't a monopoly on creativity. Any person (or corporation) that wants to put the work into a computerized cartoon can make one, and perhaps even a decent one. As time goes on, all manner of conglomerates will be able to replicate the Pixar model."

"Now, don't worry, all you Pixar bulls out there. I do agree that your company is unique and has a lot of brand equity attached to it. But can Michael Eisner's wish to stand firm on his dealings with Steve Jobs be completely dismissed as self-aggrandizing, egomaniacal foolishness? Not this time."

"Why give up too much in the potential upside when you can either develop internal projects or hook up with an undervalued partner? After all, the technology is there, and even if you can't beat the grosses of Jobs et al., you at least get to count on a higher degree of cash flow control."

"But every time I see a franchise like Shrek raking in the cash or Robots having a pretty good opening, I do wonder why some in the media think it was such a bad idea for Eisner to rebuke Jobs and his bag of toy stories."

THANK YOU!

From Robert Niles on March 15, 2005 at 12:19 PM
Here's the challenge for Bob Iger:

Hire great people, give 'em the resources they need to do their jobs well... then get the hell out of their way.

Eisner stopped doing that after Frank Wells died and the Ovitz debacle melted down. He tightened the purse strings, started micormanaging his division heads, and promptly drove his most creative talent away from the company.

Iger need not come up a with a single great attraction idea, movie treatment or series book to be a success running the Walt Disney Company. He need only find -- and retain -- people who *can* do those things.

From Josh Counsil on March 19, 2005 at 8:33 AM
It does not seem that anyone in this blog has actually seen Robots, so let me give you the briefing...

It sucked a$$.

The visuals were beautiful, but the jokes drove me NUTS (that's exactly the kind of humour the movie is based on) and Robin Williams just pissed me off, and I'm a Robin fan. My friends got up and left because they "could not stand it anymore". Two of them said it was the worst film they've ever seen.

The film relies totally on voice talent because the story sucks. About five of the voice talents advertised appear for 3 seconds (Jay Leno, James Earl Jones, and Drew Carey, to start). It sucked hardcore and does not deserve to be at next year's Academy Awards.

From Ben Mills on March 20, 2005 at 3:48 PM
Oh, come on, it wasn't that bad. Okay, maybe it was. Although any movie that uses the Blue Man Group as "featured percussionists" deserves some sort of praise.

And what is up with all these CGI movies using different voices when coming across to the UK? Sure, all the main characters stayed the same, but we had a whole load of crappy British TV personalities dumped in to minor bit parts, for no apparent reason. Shrek 2 was another example of that... Larry King - who is relatively well known over here - was replaced by Jonathan Ross, who is hated by a lot of Brits. Wierd.

From Justin Smith on March 20, 2005 at 5:13 PM
Well I just saw it and I liked it. The animation is pretty good. Not quite as good as Pixar animation but still impressive. And Josh I have to disagree with you about the refrences. Those were the best part. So many, so creative and much more funnier than any gag in Shrek 1 or 2. The only problem I had was Robin Williams wasn't that funny. His funniest stuff was seen in the trailers. Overall Robots is no Toy Story or The Incredibles, it still is an amusing ride.
From TH Creative on April 5, 2005 at 7:08 AM
This from today's 'Fortune:'

"Last October, on the eve of the National Basketball Association's first exhibition game in China, Walt Disney president Robert Iger stepped before a battery of television cameras flanked by NBA commissioner David Stern, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, and a cadre of other NBA stars. A press conference to announce some blockbuster marketing deal between the NBA and China? Not quite. The venue for the high-profile gathering was a cramped classroom at Yao's alma mater, Gaoan Road Primary School in Shanghai. As cameras whirred and flashbulbs popped, Iger, Yao, and the other NBA luminaries joined a chorus of Chinese children in red neckerchiefs reciting from the pages of a Yao-sized book at the front of the room: "It's a gray, gray rainy day, but Piglet and Roo are ready to play."

Piglet and Roo are characters from A.A. Milne's popular children's stories about a stuffed bear named Winnie-the-Pooh, and Disney billed the storytelling session as part of a worldwide public-service initiative to encourage kids to read. But to properly connect the dots between the beloved bear, the world's second-largest media and entertainment conglomerate, the NBA's tallest player, and the world's fastest-growing economy, it helps to know that Disney owns the rights to Milne's characters; that Disney is the parent company of ESPN sports network; that ESPN secured rights to broadcast the Shanghai exhibition game; and that Iger wants a piece of the China market as badly as Pooh craves honey.

That last also explains why Iger, just anointed successor to CEO Michael Eisner, visited China four times last year."

With no other major theme park proposed for Mainland China, Iger's priorities seem right on the mark.

From TH Creative on April 8, 2005 at 7:05 AM
From Reuters: “ CEO-designate Robert Iger said on Tuesday he plans to delegate more power to top executives at Disney's various business units as one of his first major initiatives in running the company."We announced last week that we were changing direction in terms of strategic planning," Iger told reporters at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association convention in San Francisco. "We are empowering our business unit executives to create strategies for their own businesses and be accountable for the strategic direction of their units."

Again, this seems like a very good call. It contrasts to Mr. Eisner’s reputed micro-management. Further, the speed of this decision -- and its implementation – may not have been possible had Disney hired an outsider.

Again, in the short time since he has taken control, Iger's decisions seem to be right on target.

From TH Creative on May 11, 2005 at 5:47 PM
Man oh man, Roy "Fredo" Disney ("You can't fire me! I quit!") and Stan Gold look more and more like idiots every time they open their mouths. Two days after they file a Hail Mary lawsuit attempting to remove Robert Iger from office, the company they claim is being mismanaged reports b
From TH Creative on May 11, 2005 at 5:47 PM
Man oh man, Roy "Fredo" Disney ("You can't fire me! I quit!") and Stan Gold look more and more like idiots every time they open their mouths. Two days after they file a Hail Mary lawsuit attempting to remove Robert Iger from office, the company they claim is being mismanaged reports big profits.

The Walt Disney Co. reported a 30 percent increase in second-quarter profit, largely due to a strong performance from its film studio.

Increased attendance at theme parks, particularly Walt Disney World, also contributed to profit of $698 million, or 33 cents a share, in the quarter ended April 2. That compared with $537 million, or 26 cents a share, in the same period last year.

Revenue increased to $7.829 billion from $7.189 billion in the same period last year.

This performance should surprise no one, as Orange County and the state of Florida reported a 14% increase in tourist industry revenue in March.

Let's face it, Roy Disney is not a creative genius. He is the winner of the maternity ward lottery and should be dismissed as a sad little man who never had the chops of either his uncle or his father.

Crawl back to your yacht, Roy. Your pseudo righteous cause has devolved into nothing more the the whining complaints from an old man whose greatest achievements were nothing more than the product of nepotism.

From TH Creative on May 11, 2005 at 5:54 PM

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