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BK007

Disney's Greed: Anyone Else Worried? (An Essay)

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I was stunned this afternoon to read about Disney devouring yet another company/studio into its ranks and unlike the 56-page long wankfest in the box office forum, and probably on other sites, I'm not impressed.Firstly, I'm not sure how many people on this forum are Disney fans- and by that I mean Disney animation, since that's what started the studio, and what the studio has relied on for decades. Disney, of course, have tried to expand into live action, but I'm pretty sure have not won any Oscar for a film they produced and most of it can be written off as family fluff, whether fair or not. This is obviously completely opposite to long standing studios like Warner Bros., Paramount, Columbia and so on.In recent times, despite immense success with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Disney decided to have a blanket ban on anything even remotely considered risque with even On Stranger Tides feeling the brunt of this outcome. Everything had to be squeaky clean PG-13 stuff, not that there's anything wrong with good wholesome fun, but it should never be a dictated point. There are other problems, but I felt this stringent ruling has made potentially exciting ideas trainwrecks or left potential at the door- Sorcerer's Apprentice, Prince of Persia, John Carter... the list is long and has lots of big budgets and red numbers.Then, Bob Iger, after the runaway success of the Proposal in 2009, said they would no longer be producing mid-budget features and would focus only on brands. This too, after the expensive flops of G-Force (Jerry Bruckheimer), Race to Witch Mountain and A Christmas Carol. Even with Bruckheimer supposedly "reeled in" Pirates 4 managed to be as expensive as the 2nd/3rd but looking like it was made with half the amount, and of course Imageworks with Zemeckis was shut down. 2D animation was once again suspended at Disney after Princess and the Frog failed to perform up to expectations. Pixar had already been acquired, by this point, and Up made a staggering amount of money. Expanding on that last point, Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3 were all released after the acquisition but were already in production, given a four year production window, when Disney made such an acquisition. Those are four original movies and the conclusion to Pixar's one and only beloved franchise. Since then, their production schedule morphed into Cars 2, Brave, Monsters Inc 0 and Finding Nemo 2 with newt being cancelled and original movies having been continually pushed back. Disney only ever released 2 sequels in their time as an animation studio to cinemas, but presided over what Disney fans mostly know as cheapquels, basically rushed, poor quality DTV animation ruining or bastardizing the actual canon. Sequels to Fox and the Hound, 101 Dalmatians, Tarzan, Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame etc were particularly clueless and abject. John Lasseter once voiced his hatred for DTV stuff but he has had no problems pushing out DTV TinkerBell movies and starting "Planes" for Pixar. Furthermore, under their home video banner, Disney has grown egregious for cheapening the quality of products and generally showing disrespect to the consumer. Having lived in the UK, I was excited for Disney's promised "Diamond" line, after their Special Edition/Platinum DVD lines dropped the ball towards the end. However, once again, after the magnificent start, they blew it and began shoveling them out with less and less respect for the material and the consumer. They already do not seem to acknowledge or support their live action catalogue from Walt Disney's era, but also anything produced under their Hollywood, Miramax and Touchstone labels from the late 80s until early 2000s. Basically anything unfriendly toward their family base was ignored for years. Now the rate of releases has improved dramatically but probably only because Iger wants to make some last stop gap cash before throwing his "Keychest" invention on us. (For those who don't know, that is Disney's alternative to Ultraviolet.) However, going by reviews, they have simply thrown many onto discs without so much as bothering to check them or review them. Many people were claiming that the Original SW trilogy might now make it on to Blu-Ray, but if you follow Disney's releases, you should know that it's probably even less likely to ever appear. Disney have not the consumer in mind but the bottom line. They are more likely to release twenty different editions with none ever having the actual original product. They drop extras for no rhyme or reason when discs now have so much space. The quality of extras themselves dropped precariously. Compare the extras on Paramount releases of Iron Man and then Disney's release of the Avengers. Surely the mega-extravaganza should have more, but that is not the case. Disney preferred to spread it out as exclusives and further delay proper extras, if any at all were produced. They also almost released the briefcase edition before they were sued by Lenovo for breach of contract, trying to squeeze out every last dollar without having to pay any rights. Typical Disney, then, in fact. Only concerned about the pennies. Now, I know it's all about the money, yes, but Disney are blatantly showing no regard for anything else. Not the quality of their products nor the consumers or anyone else but their bottom line. The focus on brands is one of the worst you could point out in Hollywood's increasingly unoriginal fare. Disney are not willing to take chances and prefer to kill the integrity of the industry with commercial schlock. Look at their television with all their manufactured teeny bopper brands and how their stars kept rebelling once they were out. Disney only cares about cross-promotion and with their stranglehold on princesses, then Cars and then Marvel superheroes, and now Star fucking Wars, well, it's never-ending and their money train will keep on coming in as quality be damned and left to rot in the outback. See, with all their money, they should be leaders in innovation. Yet, they have let their keystone industry-animation-fall behind not only Pixar, but Dreamworks, Blue Sky and Illumination. They continue to force creatively bankrupt franchises on us with Pirates 5 and 6 teetering in the horizon and now, have already announced Star Wars 7. My first thought was "what a perfect match" for Lucas and Disney. Both have shown no concern for their fanbases over the years with elitist and commercial goals only on the mind. Whether rightly or wrongly the masses have still turned up to all of the shit from SW prequels to Alice in Wonderland, On Stranger Tides and the 3D re-releases. But, even so, Star Wars and Disney are arguably the biggest brands in the industry and their combined force is scary for both box office and merchandising. This step will ensure Disney continues to feel nothing even if they released 10 John Carters a year- but, will they even give another John Carter a chance? (If you didn't get it JC is an allegory as not only a bomb, but original fare) Pixar, Lasseter, Disney and Andrew Stanton may deny it, but Finding Nemo 2's conception seems to be intertwined with the failure of John Carter. Do we really need more of this? But this is what we'll continue to get with the current crop at the apex. One should be excited for such an acquisition in the market, sure, but given their history and current leadership, it is a worrying time ahead. The honeymoon with Marvel still runs on, but it didn't take very long for Disney's infectious corporate suit mentality to penetrate Pixar and so one is weary of the future. (Avengers was made under Paramount) LucasFilm is another story, with Lucas himself appearing in the dictionary as the definition of greed, but add in Disney's superficially unrealistic clean policies and a character like Han Solo will be a thing of the past. Does anyone remember Tron Legacy? Thought so. After 18 months of cross-promotion, Legacy was still a disappointment and a non-entity. That is what Disney is good at- inundation of promises to cover up an empty, sombre, hollow shell. PS: Criticize Lucas all you want, but Disney too have a long reference list of post-release tinkering due to ridiculous complaints by parents in an attempt to preserve the pointless family friendly image. A timely analogy would be Disney being Mitt- easily moulded and influenced by a minority extremist group of individuals. Who else would force frames to be redrawn because some lines resembled an object that could potentially be a penis or have lines cut out because it sounded like a request for one to take their clothes off?

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You make a good point. But, really, this is the only sensible way we would ever get Episodes 7, 8, and 9. George Lucas was tired of these films. It was obvious from the interviews. Let someone else take over. Who cares if Disney is greedy. Do I expect them to the run the franchise? Of course I do, but I also expect a couple of good SW films before that happens.

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I agree with you that we might make it to a good trilogy before everything goes pear shaped but that's the problem, everything is too short-term/sighted.I hope Marvel can continue without being crushed under Disney's oppressive nature but then they would have more experience with it. I guess a big difference is Marvel doesn't report to Lasseter or at least I think so and they have the right people in it right now, or so I think, that would make it harder for Disney to Disneyfy.Lucas once threw in JJB. Hopefully Kennedy and whoever else remains steadfast in the new trilogy against any Disney request for another character of the same cloth.

Edited by BK007
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That's a fantastic piece of writing BK007. I learned a lot from it and I always enjoy reading about the minutae of film when I have no knowledge of that aspect of it. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I hope you are wrong and Disney does take their time and use a strong effort to make a good film. SW is loved by so many and this is their chance to bring it back to the glory days.

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Am I worried about Disney's greed? They're a business that has to answer to shareholders every studio does these days. Iger's job is to make the shareholders happy. You don't think if WB or Paramount had a chance to get Lucasfilm they wouldn't have jumped at the chance? Would they be considered greedy? Now Iger should make sure that people like Alan Horn and Kathleen Kennedy can pick the right people to make the films and that they can be on par with the original trilogy(for the record I don't exactly hate the Prequels).And I disagree with the assesment that Pixar has faultered since the Disney deal. They've produced one film that wasn't very good Cars 2. And I haven't had the chance to see Brave. Everything else has been just as good as what came before it. And I'm very excited for it's future.

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No, I agree with a couple of your points but I have better things to do than worry about stuff like that.I actually praise Disney, they are making very smart decisions recently, in purchasing PIXAR. Marvel. and now Lucasfilm (as well as Lucas's FX companies)I have seen many movies under the Disney banner that were good, so I don't think their quality are any better or worse than anything else

Edited by John Marston
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Am I worried about Disney's greed? They're a business that has to answer to shareholders every studio does these days. Iger's job is to make the shareholders happy. You don't think if WB or Paramount had a chance to get Lucasfilm they wouldn't have jumped at the chance? Would they be considered greedy?Now Iger should make sure that people like Alan Horn and Kathleen Kennedy can pick the right people to make the films and that they can be on par with the original trilogy(for the record I don't exactly hate the Prequels).And I disagree with the assesment that Pixar has faultered since the Disney deal. They've produced one film that wasn't very good Cars 2. And I haven't had the chance to see Brave. Everything else has been just as good as what came before it. And I'm very excited for it's future.

I'm sure you read my post and I have highlighted all the other reasons why I think Disney should be singled out. Maybe you actually haven't read my post since I have made the same point you have but added qualifications and so on.
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No, I agree with a couple of your points but I have better things to do than worry about stuff like that.I actually praise Disney, they are making very smart decisions recently, in purchasing PIXAR. Marvel. and now Lucasfilm (as well as Lucas's FX companies)I have seen many movies under the Disney banner that were good, so I don't think their quality are any better or worse than anything else

It's not active worrying, of course, but more of the state of the industry kind of thing for the long run.
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Well the industry has always been about making money I don't see why this should be a shock. And filmmakers and such can hide under the guise of making art, but if they don't at least make a studio some kind of money, their profile drops.And Disney has more than just movies to worry about they haven't been soley a movie studio for decades. For them it's all about synergy, how can you connect the latest property to a film, theme park attraction, television special, video game, social media event. A practice that taking out the latter half of video games and social media Walt Disney himself perfected.Is Disney perfect? Heavens no. The Disney Channel save for Phineas and Ferb and Gravity Falls is an embarassment. And there is no reason why Song of the South continues to sit in the Vault. And as much as I love Walt Disney World the fact that Epcot went from an educational park to one that had to have more thrill rides was a little disconcerting. But I can't look at this cynically right now, all I can do is look at this with excitement at the possiblities it can bring.

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I wouldn't say I'm bothered about the deal itself, but I am concerned that it's symptomatic of the direction of the industry: blockbusters are getting even bigger and mid budget movies, which Disney has no interest in, are disappearing.

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Many people were claiming that the Original SW trilogy might now make it on to Blu-Ray, but if you follow Disney's releases, you should know that it's probably even less likely to ever appear.

I believe FOX, not Disney, has the rights to the original SW trilogy in terms of releasing stuff to Blu-Ray. I could be wrong.

See, with all their money, they should be leaders in innovation.

And, I'm sorry, but how are they not leaders with innovation? They bought Marvel and started one of the most successful franchises in history that ended with the Avengers. Disney Channel started the whole trend of manufactured teeny bobby shows. Their broadcast network, ABC, has some of the most original shows on television: 666 Park Avenue, Once Upon a Time, and Last Resort (and this is despite Pushing Daisies' flop). You might not agree with Disney's approach but they are one of the most successful media companies in the world for a reason. Yes, they are greedy but they would be a terrible company if they didn't work to maximize profits.

Again, George Lucas will make absolute certain as Creative Consultant to stick his nose in this as often as possible and practicaly come off as the hidden director of these movies.. You watch.. There's no way Lucas is going to just let someone have free reign with these movies without his precious 2 cents being thrown in...

I have no idea whether the deal is different or not, but a Creative Consultant is the same as a Consultant Producer. In case you're wondering how much power they have, I recommend looking for Dan Harmon's blog post after he got fired. It's essentially an honorary position where you're paid to show up and not do much else. He can give his two cents but nobody has to follow what he says.
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It is definitely troubling that Disney seems intent on owning every franchise in the world at the expense of producing the kind of original movies the studio made its name with. Pretty much the only major movie franchises they don't own now are Harry Potter, DC and Transformers. Warner Bros. will never give up the first two, but I wouldn't be surprised if Disney makes a move on Hasbro next (that way they won't have to share profits from SW toys, either). They also got Lucasfilm cheap - a new trilogy is pretty much guaranteed to make $4b in box office and merchandise, and that's before you add in all the other revenues they can now exploit.People can whine all they want about how Lucas ruined the prequels, but those movies were one man's vision. The new trilogy may turn out great, but I'm not comfortable with Star Wars becoming yet another corporate product. And I definitely won't like seeing the Cinderella castle before a new SW film instead of hearing the Fox fanfare.

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It is definitely troubling that Disney seems intent on owning every franchise in the world at the expense of producing the kind of original movies the studio made its name with.

Like... what, exactly? Their animation division is still very much alive and well, though if we're being honest they were never exactly shining examples of originality.

People can whine all they want about how Lucas ruined the prequels, but those movies were one man's vision. The new trilogy may turn out great, but I'm not comfortable with Star Wars becoming yet another corporate product.

So are you saying that Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi aren't worthy Star Wars movies because they weren't "one man's vision"? Edited by tribefan695
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People can whine all they want about how Lucas ruined the prequels, but those movies were one man's vision. The new trilogy may turn out great, but I'm not comfortable with Star Wars becoming yet another corporate product.

:lol: :lol: :lol: Star Wars has been a corporate product for a while now.
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