Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Up" Took In $68 Million

It was expected to top $60 million, and it did better than that. "Up" took in $68 million over its opening weekend, raking in the 3rd best opening for a Pixar movie.

It is an AMAZING movie. It is visually stunning, but more importantly, it has such an emotional content and such depth, that it will be very difficult to top this one.

The one thing that I definitely noticed was that the "action" sequence were not frantic. You get to see the action and see the fast-paced movement. In many movies that depends on special effects, the action sequence can some at you so far, you either can't see everything, or things become a blur. Not with "Up". You get to see the action very well.

Go see it!

Zz.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

World Premiere of Up at the El Capitan Theatre

Laughing Place has a nice coverage of the World Premier (really? I thought that occurred at Cannes?) of Up at El Capitan Theater. It has both video and still pictures.

I wish the video of the interview with John Lasseter wasn't cut short. I was quite interested in the shirt he was wearing, which he attempted to show. Here is the clip:



Oh well, you just have to look at the still pictures at the site that I linked to to see a close up of his shirt.

Zz.

Her Prince Has Come. Critics, Too.

This is a very good NY Times piece (available for a limited time) addressing the controversy surrounding the Princess and the Frog, Disney's upcoming hand-drawn aninmation featuring the first African-American princess. The FACT that there are some people who already are making such vehement attacks even BEFORE they have seen it says a boat load about these people and not about Disney.

Still, in the end, it is still about the story, and the last part of this news article is worthy of a quote here:

Disney can take some comfort in a backlash to the backlash.

“This is one of those situations where I am ashamed of the black community,” Levi Roberts said in a YouTube video. “Are we being racist ourselves by saying this movie shouldn’t have a white prince?”

Perhaps the final word — for now — should come from somebody who is African-American and a former Disney animator.

“Overly sensitive people see racial or ethnic slights in every image,” wrote Floyd Norman, whose credits span from “Sleeping Beauty” to “Mulan,” in a 2007 essay on the Web site Jim Hill Media. “And in their zeal to sanitize and pasteurize everything, they’ve taken all the fun out of cartoon making.


As I've said earlier, if Disney decided to NOT make anymore movies with African-American theme or lead, these very same people should SHUT UP and not complain. Who would want the hassle?

Zz.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Random WDW Picture

From SpectoMagic at the Magic Kingdom.



Zz.

Up, Up, and Away with Director Pete Docter

As if we haven't gotten enough already on insights into "Up" (I certainly can never get enough of such things), Disney Insider has a link to a rather fascinating inside look at the making of up from director Pete Doctor.

As far as how the story originated, he said:

It was based on my drawing of a super-grouchy old guy holding a bunch of colorful, happy balloons ... that contrast seemed pretty funny. Then we played around with the idea of floating away in a house. It was a bizarre solution to escaping everyday life that captured both [co-director] Bob Peterson and I ... we just went from there.


Sunday.... I'll be seeing it this Sunday!

Zz.

"Up" Opens Today - Finally!

After months of expectations, thrillers, and the couple of weeks of glowing review after the world premier at Cannes, "Up" finally opens in the US today! There is an extremely high expectation of a significant box-office success here after all the promotions and wave reviews. The prediction so far is a box office take of $60 million for the opening weekend. This is amid all the competition from existing blockbuster movies. So I'm not sure how realistic such an expectation is, but we shall see.

Zz.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Disney Addict Shares Advice for Adventures at Happiest Place on Earth

I've always said that if you want some GOOD advice on how to do a Disney theme park, ask a Disney addict! :)

Well, this is just what you will get in this news report and if you buy the book. Bill Burke is a self-professed Mouse addict and has written a guide book on how to do WDW. Even if you're already a Disney expert, this is still a fun news article to read, with a chuckle or two here and there. For example, his take on the food cost at WDW:

“Before we dive headfirst into one of my favorite Disney World topics, gird your loins and prepare for sticker shock. Dining on-property is expensive no matter how you go about it. And before we start in earnest let me provide this initial tip: Don’t be the guy who wants to save money by packing peanut butter sandwiches and juice boxes for the afternoon. Don’t be that guy. We see that family and weep. Eating great food is one of the most fun, satisfying things in life. Leave the cooler at home and dive headlong into Lake Debt with me.”


That certainly is true, but still, there are ways that one can cut costs without having to lug that cooler (which is very uncool at a Disney theme park) with you all over the place. Filling up your water bottle at the many water fountain is a prime example.

But what about the air-conditioning at Crystal Palace?

“Perhaps the most important benefit of dining at the Crystal Palace - and the importance of this cannot be understated - is that this restaurant has the strongest air conditioning of any restaurant on Disney property. On the Mousejunkie ‘Save Me From Heatstroke’ scale, the Crystal Palace ranks a 10 - Crystal Palace air conditioning supervisor, I salute you.”


:)

Zz.

'Up' Director and Producer say Disney Hasn't Stifled Creativity at Pixar

Pete Doctor and Jonas Rivera said that Disney's acquire of Pixar has not stifled the creativity at the animation studio, even though it was something they feared in the beginning.

"Yeah, there was a day or two when it was pretty nerve-racking and we were all kind of waiting to see what happened," he says. "But then it was fine.

"In fact, if you want to extend the Star Wars scenario, they ended up giving Princess Leia Darth Vader's job," referring to Pixar's John Lasseter being named head of Disney animation.

At this, Up producer Jonas Rivera leans forward.

"It's funny, but if anything the atmosphere is a little more free," Rivera says. "I mean, I can't imagine going anywhere else and trying to make Up."


It isn't surprising. When Disney had the foresight to appoint Lasseter to head all the animation effort at Disney, one kinda expect that he would let Pixar do what it has been doing so well. Even Disney in-house animation branch is getting a good dose of self-confidence and creativity.

Now, if only someone could rescue their live-action production....

Zz.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How Technology Lifts Pixar's 'Up'

I love it when Disney and Physics mix together! :)

This is a terrific article that dove into the technical aspect of the animation in "Up", especially with regards to making a realistic simulation of various aspect of the movie such as all those balloons!

May said that the animation department at Pixar never even considered hand-animating the balloons. But even standard computer animation wouldn't be up to the task, because of the N-squared complexity involved in the thousands of interdependent balloons. Instead, the studio's computer whizzes figured out a way to turn the problem over to a programmed physical simulator, which, employing Newtonian physics, was able to address the animation problem.

"These are relatively simple physical equations, so you program them into the computer and therefore kind of let the computer animate things for you, using those physics," said May. "So in every frame of the animation, (the computer can) literally compute the forces acting on those balloons, (so) that they're buoyant, that their strings are attached, that wind is blowing through them. And based on those forces, we can compute how the balloon should move."


See kids! That physics lesson you learned in college could be very useful if you want to work at Pixar!

:)

Zz.

Disney's D23 Members Invited to Become Donald Duck's Official Portrait Artist

Here you go! If you have the talent as an artist, the D23 club is looking for someone to be Donald Duck's official portrait artist to celebrate his 75 birthday.

The contest is hosted by D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans, and is open to all D23 Members who are 18 or older. Full-length oil, acrylic or watercolor canvas portraits of Donald Duck, no larger than 24" W x 36" H, are eligible. Artists must first submit an original sketch, in any medium or size, of the planned artwork. The submission form, as well as full contest rules and additional details, can be found at the official D23 website, www.disney.com/D23. All finalists selected to have their works displayed will be eligible for two complimentary, four-day admission passes to the D23 Expo.


And the prize is quite magnificent as well.

The creator of the winning portrait will receive an authentic "Duckster" - an award that Walt Disney personally commissioned in 1960 and which has been presented fewer than two dozen times to people who made significant contributions to the Walt Disney Studios. The last time a "Duckster" was awarded was nearly 20 years ago, and only a few of these rare, bronze statuettes of Donald Duck remain in the Walt Disney Archives. Among the past recipients of the "Duckster" are Clarence Nash, the original voice of Donald Duck, and famed Donald illustrator Carl Barks.


Zz.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Disney "Halo" Effect

I guess it is not out of the question, but this is the first time I've heard of a Disney person spoke of the Disney "halo" effect. It is part of the Disney marketing strategy in getting corporate sponsor and involvement.

In at least one instance, though, Disney is giving away some of the space. It pledged to do so as one of the lesser-known components of the incentive package to lure La Jolla, Calif.-based Burnham to Orlando three years ago.
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In case you ever wondered how deftly Disney pitches its sponsorship opportunities, this should give you an idea: The company goes as far as to boast of a "halo effect" for companies associated with the Disney name.

The story cited a document written by a Disney salesman to pitch a potential client on space at Innoventions.

"Our research shows that guests perceive a company inside Innoventions as a world-leader in their specific field," he wrote. "From a psychographic standpoint, guests entering Innoventions enter with an open mind that is ready to be entertained. This is simply a different mind-set from that of a consumer inside of a store, watching television at home or sitting in front of a sales agent."


"psychographic"?

:)

Zz.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Disney Store at Chicago's Michigan Ave

Went to the Disney Store on Michigan Ave. today. They already have "Up" merchandise, including reusable bags.

Still VERY limited amount of adult merchandise. They did have t-shirts and hoodie sweats specific to Chicago. Didn't find my size for the hoodie, and managed to find ONE medium t-shirt in a sea of Large and Extra-Large.



They seriously need more adult apparels there.

Zz.

Why Donald Duck Is the Jerry Lewis of Germany

Whoa! We are big Donald Duck fans, but oh boy. I don't think we hold a candle to the obsession the Germans have for Donald Duck!

Comics featuring Donald are available at most German newsstands and the national weekly “Micky Maus”—which features the titular mouse, Goofy and, most prominently, Donald Duck—sells an average of 250,000 copies each week, outselling even “Superman.” A lavish 8,000-page German Donald Duck collector’s edition has just come out, and despite the nearly $1,900 price tag, the publisher, Egmont Horizont, says the edition of 3,333 copies is almost completely sold out. Last month the fan group D.O.N.A.L.D (the German acronym stands for “German Organization for Non-commercial Followers of Pure Donaldism”), hosted its 32nd annual congress at the Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, with trivia and trinkets galore, along with lectures devoted to “nephew studies” and Duckburg’s solar system.


That is utterly hysterical! I wonder if they'll be doing anything for Donald's 75 birthday?

Now where can I get my hands on these comic books? :)

Zz.

Friday, May 22, 2009

3D Coming To Blu-Ray?

Well, of course one can show 3D movies already on TV using those silly red-blue glasses. But we're talking about the latest advancement in 3D technology using those polarized glasses that many in the industry, including Disney Digital 3D and RealD, are using. Those are still not available on Blu-Ray, and consumers have to content to watch such movies in 2D.

So now there is an effort to bring that technology to Blu-Ray.

3D isn't completely new to Blu-ray, with recent titles like "My Bloody Valentine 3D" packing in the old-style red and blue glasses in the box. However, the 3D effects obtained with the older red/blue (anaglyph) glasses pale in comparison with the effects commonly seem in theaters today with polarized glasses. It's likely that the Blu-ray association will try to incorporate the newer 3D technology into the standard, but from the demos we've seen (like Panasonic's 3D Blu-ray demo at CES 2009), it will require new, 3D-capable HDTVs to work, which means it's a long shot to gain widespread adoption.


Oh dear! A 3D-capable HDTVs?? Honestly, I don't want to upgrade anymore, at least, not in the next 5 to 10 years or so. I waited until I can buy a good Profile 2 (or BDlive) Blu-Ray player, and was hoping that with my hi-def TV, I'm DONE with audio-video upgrade for a while.

So they better not pull this on me because there's a very good chance that I'm not going to be buying a "3D-capable" HDTV anytime soon.

Zz.

A Common Thread: The ties that bind Disneyland, Freedomland, the New York World's Fair and Walt Disney World

Have you been reading Chuck Schmidt's wonderful article on the history and connection between Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and the New York's World Fair? If you haven't, you should! It is in 4 parts, and they are linked below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

There are so many interesting tidbits in the articles. I find the coverage of "Freedomland" fascinating, because I didn't know about this before.

You just have got to read the articles, that's all there is to it.

Zz.

"Up" Win Palm Dog Award

It has not been released in the US, yet "Up" has already garnered its first award - well, sorta since it really isn't an "official" award of any kind. It seems that there is an unofficial competition at Cannes for the best canine in the movies shown at Cannes. And the the "...dog called Dug and a pack of wild but wonderful hounds..." from "Up" garnered the "Palm Dog" award (I think I got more of a chuckle out of that name than anything else, since it resembles the Best Picture Palm d'Or" award).

"Up was a favourite from the word go as it featured loveable Dug and a pack of wild but wonderful hounds with comically malfunctioning human voice collars," said journalist Toby Rose.

The 3D dogs beat off stiff competion from a black poodle sitting at the table with Nazis in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, said Rose.


"Up" opens a week from today here in the US.

Zz.

Disney/Star Wars Big Figs

Oh my god!

I don't normally collect these Star Wars themed Disney figurines, but just look at the Donald figurines in this Theme Park Ranger report! As he said, it is oh-so Han Solo!

Zz.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Disneynature Producing Two More Films

On the heels of the successful "Earth", Disneynature is producing two more nature films.

"Cats" is being directed by Keith Scholey and Fothergill for worldwide release beginning in 2011. It focuses on two families of African cats and is being shot in Kenya's Masai Mara. Scholey and Alix Tidmarsh are producing for Big Cat Prods.

"Chimpanzee" is being written and directed by Fothergill and Linfield for a worldwide theatrical rollout beginning in 2012. It will revolve around a group of chimps living in the rain forests of the Ivory Coast and Uganda. It will be produced by Tidmarsh and Fothergill in association with the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and the Jane Goodall Institute.


I wonder if they will still have giveaways and other promotions like they did with "Earth".

Zz.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Disney Previewed Part of "A Christmas Carol" at Cannes

Disney previewed a part of "A Christmas Carol" in 3D at Cannes, complete with fake snow. And from all indications, this could be a winner as well.

The scenes previewed involved Scrooge's scoffing at his yuletide-favoring nephew (Colin Firth) and cowering in his confrontation with Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman), whose jaw is literally dropping over his old partner's doomed path. Zemeckis explained that a linen strap used to be tied around a corpse's head to keep the mouth closed, but this ghost's band has come loose, leading to ghastly (and funny) sight gags.
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Viewers were wowed. Bob Tourtellotte, entertainment editor for Reuters, says the film was "heads and tails above what Zemeckis had done before in terms of photo realism. It's not perfectly real, but it's getting there."


There's a lot of movies out of Disney to look forward to during the next 12 months. I can't wait!

Zz.

Disney Plans 500-Room Hotel Near Washington D.C.?

Back in 2007, I reported on a news article that Disney was eying to build hotels in other parts of the country and maybe even smaller theme parks. Nothing came of it, or at least, I haven't heard of anything of it.

Until now.

The Washington Post is reporting that Disney has bought a 15-acre land in the Washington DC area with plans to build a 500-room hotel.

Disney plans to build a 500-room hotel resort on the parcel, providing another anchor for a 300-acre venture that seeks to rival the District as a conference and convention destination. National Harbor already includes six hotels; more than a dozen restaurants; and a giant conference center run by Gaylord Entertainment, owner of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Business, though, has been slowed by the recession, and many of the 400 residences at National Harbor have not been sold. A Disney spokesman said the company will almost certainly go ahead with the project despite the economic climate, but the company did not provide a timetable.


Hum... this is certain a bold move during this turbulent economic climate. Still, if they also build a World of Disney Store there, I might just drop by if I'm ever in the neighborhood. :)

Zz.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Peak At "Tomorrowland"

"Tomorrowland" screen writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore gave an interview and a sneak peak at Disney's upcoming "Tomorrowland".

With the live-action portion of the movie division at Disney in a slump right now, is this the next "Pirates" franchise for the studio? I'm skeptical. Dwayne Johnson is not exactly Johnny Depp. But as they say at Pixar, it's the story. So we shall see.

Zz.

Disney’s Film Strategy Sputters

This news article looks at the severe down turn in revenue brought in by the Walt Disney Studios this past couple of years. It questions Bob Iger's strategy of cutting back on the number of movies Disney releases each year.

The company’s film profit plunged 97 percent to $13 million in the quarter ended March 28. Revenue tumbled 21 percent to $1.44 billion, reflecting the box-office sales and a drop in DVDs. Fox’s film profit rose 8 percent.


Most of the problem, from my perspective, is due to the failure of the live-action movies being released by the company. They do not have a "John Lasseter" for the live-action movies who does the creativity check and quality control. Lacking of a big franchise movie such as "Pirates" prop up the profits, the few live-action movies being released so far have been rather disappointing in quality and can't catch an audience.

While there are several animation movies to be released this year from Disney that I am definitely looking forward to, the only live-action movie that I can think of from them that is high on my list of must-see is "Alice in Wonderland", mainly because of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. If I were in charge of Disney Studios, I'd try to get Tim Burton into my circle. His movies may not always be huge blockbusters, but they are never boring.

Zz.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fun And Sun At Walt Disney World

Ah, just a bit more than a month away before our next vacation at WDW. Can't wait already, and this video just whet the appetite even more!



Zz.

Random WDW Picture

Some comic relief at Dinoland USA, Disney's Animal Kingdom.



Zz.

Disneyland Park Now on the iPhone & iPod Touch

Now you can have all you need to know about Disneyland while you're there using your iPhone and Ipod Touch.

“It’s exciting to bring this wealth of information about Disneyland Park to the iPhone.” said Mike Westby of TimeStream Software. “With just a tap of their finger, users can now view Attraction Information, Disneyland Park Tips, dial a phone number to make reservations, even learn where to find their favorite Disney characters within the park.”


I'm waiting for an app where it knows exactly where in a Disney theme park you're located, and it tells me where the nearest hidden Mickey is!

Zz.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Disneyland's A Magical Kingdom, Even For Grownups

We usually go to WDW without kids in our group (at least those that don't need to be fed or have their diapers changed). So we are used to having grownup times at Disney theme parks. Still, this is a hilarious report on two dads, sans kids, and their trip to Disneyland.

But this time would be different. Two longtime Disneyland veterans had come to Uncle Walt's utopia, sans kids and wives. Our goal? To enjoy a guy's weekend. To see what it's like to experience the resort as grown-ups.

In other words, to avoid Toontown like it's a hotbed of swine flu.


You have to read the rest of the trip report. It is equally hysterical, but also contains a lot of very good suggestions for adults-only trips. As someone who do not travel with kids, I of course do not have any appreciation on what an adult goes through with kids in tow at a Disney theme parks. After reading this and other trip reports with kids in the party, I don't think I'm missing anything. :)

Zz.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kidani Village at AKL Opens

It's a bit late, but what the hey....

Laughing Place has extensive photos and videos of the Kidani Village, which is the DVC section of Animal Kingdom Lodge and opened this week.

We will be visiting it on our upcoming trip in June since we will be dining at Sanna. So I'm looking forward to looking around the place. Alas, we won't be staying there this year. Both of our trip will involve stays at Saratoga Springs. But definitely next year!

Zz.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Park Merchandise

Hey, it appears that you can now buy certain park merchandise online!

It used to be that you can only buy Mickey Ears hat at the theme parks. Now that, and others can be purchased online. The selection is quite limited right now. Not sure if they are going to expand it in the future, or if this is just temporary during the economic slowdown.

Zz.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More Uplifting Reviews of "Up"

I can't help with the pun!

With the premier of "Up" at Cannes, more reviews of the movie are starting to appear online. I'll add to this when I find more.

London Evening Standard

Directed by Pete Docter, Up is a delightful combination of wry humour, deft characterisation and adventure (believe me, the 3D format really pays dividends when it comes to exploiting the many vertiginous possibilities provided by aerial pursuits at 20,000ft).
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Indeed, some scenes, like the floating house dropping slowly out of sight through the clouds, have an element rarely associated with Hollywood cartoons: great visual beauty.


The Guardian

It really is a lovely film: smart, funny, high-spirited and sweet-natured, reviving memories of classic adventures from the pens of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne, and movies like Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life and Albert Lamorisse's The Red Balloon, though I sometimes felt that my heart was being warmed by tiny invisible laser-missiles fired from the screen and digitally guided directly into my thorax.
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It's a terrific family adventure: the 3D presentation gives it a real boost, but this film is airborne because of the traditional strengths: story, characterisation and inventive animation with the old-fashioned values of clarity and simplicity. There's something else to ponder, too. Disney/Pixar's great rival DreamWorks put a few little anti-Disney digs in their great animation Shrek. Could the image of all those multicoloured balloons in this Pixar film be a cheeky appropriation of DreamWorks' balloon logo?


Hum... I've never thought of THAT!

The Hollywood Reporter

Winsome, touching and arguably the funniest Pixar effort ever, the gorgeously rendered, high-flying adventure is a tidy 90-minute distillation of all the signature touches that came before it.


Zz.

Disney's M&M Candies!!

Oh my! I want some of these!!

Mars is putting Disney and Pixar characters, logos, and movie sayings on their M&M candies!

There are nine different blends:

1. Mickey Mouse - featuring everyone's favorite mouse, along with Donald Duck and the famous song line "M-i-c- You Know the Rest"

2. Disney Babies - featuring baby Mickey Mouse and baby Minnie Mouse

3. Disney Princess - featuring The Little Mermaid's Ariel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty with the expression "Happily Ever After"

4. Disney Princess Wedding - featuring Cinderella and the Prince in silhouette and in a heart, wedding bells and the popular wedding phrase "Dreams Do Come True"

5. Disney-Pixar's Cars - featuring the film's logo, Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater and the catchphrase, "Get In Gear"

6. Disney Fairies - featuring Tinker Bell, Rosetta and Silvermist, with the saying "Believe In Magic"

7. Winnie the Pooh - featuring Winnie, Eeyore, Tigger and the familiar Winnie the Pooh logo

8. High School Musical - featuring the High School Musical logo, an East High megaphone, the East High Wildcat mascot and the phrase "Dive In"

9. Disney-Pixar's Toy Story - featuring Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Alien and the motto "Friends Forever"


OK, I've got to find me some of these!

Zz.

Cannes Critics Gave Warm Reception to "Up"

Ahead of the official world premier of "Up" at Cannes, the critics received an advanced showing of the movie. So far, the response has been tremendous.

Hundreds of international critics massed in one of the festival's giant red-velvet screening rooms gave a rare hearty round of applause to the opening movie, a rousing adventure quest in the wilds of South America.


We now have to just sit back and wait for the official written reviews. Roger Ebert, who has already seen it, but in 2D, gave it a very glowing review. Besides, he isn't that much of a fan of 3D "gimmick" anyway. :)

Zz.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Disney CFO Sold Off 75,000 Disney Shares

In a sign that doesn't reflect very well on the Walt Disney Company, it's Chief Financial Officer Thomas Stagg sold off 75,000 shares of his Disney Stocks worth $1.9 million.

But Staggs may have made his most important statement about the company without saying a word, observers say. On Friday, he sold 75,000 Disney shares for $1.9 million, or about $25.38 per share on average. The insider sales were the first at the company since September, when Staggs sold $2.6 million in shares through a selling plan he had adopted.


Does he know something the rest of us doesn't? And it appears that each time he has made such a sale, Disney stocks took a tumble.

Staggs' sales have tended to precede drops in Disney's stock price, according to Thomson Reuters. The last 12 times Staggs has sold, shares have fallen about 8% in the following six months. Thomson rates Disney a three out of 10 in regards to insider sentiment (measured by buying and selling), with 10 being the most bullish.


The question now is, were those drop simply a reactionary result because he sold the shares, or was the sell-off a reflection of what was about to inevitably happen?

Zz.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Disney CEO Contract and Compensation

This news article examines Robert Iger's contract and compensation with The Walt Disney Company. It looks at several "controversial" issues with the CEO's contract, including a "golden coffin" provision.

As a Disney shareholder, albeit, not a BIG shareholder, I have two opposing views on this:

1. If as a CEO, you have to lay off a large part of your workforce, not because you have over-expanded and have a lot of unneeded baggage, but because you can't support them and need to increase your profit margin, then you haven't performed as expected. This should reflect on your bonuses, no matter how well the company's stocks perform.

2. On the other hand, Iger has guided Disney into a direction in which many loyal Disney fans consider to be the next renaissance of Disney. The acquisition of Pixar, and the revival of hand-drawn animation, bring back what many love Disney for. And they ARE still making money, and not losing billions the way the financial and automobile industries are experiencing. His performance as far as upholding the Disney brand has been outstanding. One truly can see that he believes in the product that he is selling.

One can hope that there's some common middle ground between these two. I also think that Iger is using the economic recession to position Disney in a better state to really take off once the recovery kicks in. One can only hope. I definitely am holding on to all my Disney stocks, and will continue to buy more.

Zz.

Random WDW Picture

In the main lobby of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.



Zz.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

WDW Random Picture

This is from the now defunct Stars and Motor Cars on Parade at DHS.



Zz.

Disney/Pixar to Open Studio in Vancouver

Disney/Pixar Studios has announced the launching of a new animation studio in Vancouver, Canada. Why Vancouver? Tax-breaks, my friends!

The move marks the latest company to open a VFX or animation facility in Vancouver. Other residents include Rainmaker, an animation company; CIS Vancouver, a Deluxe-owned VFX business; and Moving Picture Co., a Technicolor-owned VFX facility.

Tax incentives, a local talent base and proximity to Pixar contributed to the decision. Pixar will receive incentives offered for animation production and research and development.

"Canada, and Vancouver specifically, has had terrific tax incentives for this type of work," Morris said. "I think they have a desire to grow this sort of business activity and get a critical mass. This will allow us to do more with the budgets that we have."


It appears that this studio will be producing non-feature work. But what is more interesting in this article is the "condensed" list of all the upcoming Pixar movies in the pipeline. This list may have been mentioned already, but I certainly have missed it.

Pixar has a full slate of upcoming titles -- some sequels and some introducing new characters. "Up," the studio's 10th computer-animated feature and first to release in digital 3-D, opens May 29 and introduces new characters, including elderly Carl Fredricksen and young wilderness explorer Russell.

The 3-D releases of "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" bring Woody, Buzz and the toys back to theaters Oct. 2.

Current film projects at Pixar, which employees about 1,000, are the 3-D features "Toy Story 3," "Cars 2," "The Bear and the Bow" and "Newt." The studio also is developing a series of shorts based on the Mater character from "Cars" as well as theme park projects.


I can't wait for "Up".

Zz.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Thursday, May 07, 2009

New WDW Passholder Offers

Theme Park Rangers has a list of special passholder events/offers that are listed in the new issue of Mickey Monitor.

Looks like I will miss the doorbuster and the pyrotechnics demonstration. We won't leave for WDW till June 23. :(

Zz.

Disney Parks Stop Scans for Topless Riders

This isn't a funny news, but it still made me chuckle.

Disney has decided to no longer scan the pictures that are taken on a number of rides.

Disney confirmed Tuesday that it has reassigned employees at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure who watched for breast-baring riders because "actual inappropriate behaviors by guests are rare."

Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown says the changes took effect Sunday at Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and California Screamin'.

Riders are photographed on the attractions and can then buy souvenir copies. Some have exposed their breasts in hopes that the picture would make it onto a photo preview screen at the ride's exit.


Hysterical!!

First of all, even if it did happen, one can hardly fault Disney for the stupid behavior of some guests (but I'm sure there will be people who would claim to be offended by it and blame Disney). Secondly, don't they also scan people either for smooching or doing some other inappropriate behavior? I've heard unconfirmed reports that if a couple were lip-locked in one of these pictures (and notice that I am not making any assumption about the gender of this couple), then such pictures would not be displayed either. I wonder if that is still in place, or if these re-assigned cast members were also the ones checking for such a thing?

Still, I would think that if anyone wanted to expose her breast in one of these pictures, she would probably prefer doing it on the Tower of Terror. After all, there is a nature "up-lifting" effect. You won't need a support bra! :)

I will have to pay attention to those pictures after I get off Splash Mountain from now on! :)

Zz.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Disney Shares Jump On Better-Than-Expected Results

I told you so!

I hope you bought Disney stocks before their better-than-expected financial report for the 2nd quarter!

The bottom line, however, still managed to best Wall Street's estimates.

Barclays Capital raised its rating on Disney from underweight, or sell, to overweight, or the equivalent of a buy call. Wunderlich Securities lifted its rating on the stock to hold from sell.

"While we continue to harbor structural concerns on certain subsectors of media, we believe Disney is best-positioned for media's digital evolution," Barclays analyst Anthony DiClemente wrote in a note to clients. "DVD sales and ABC are now a smaller component of operating income and thus valuation."


With "Up" and a slew of other movies coming out this year from Disney, I can only hope that their movie division will not under perform. "Up" certainly looks like a winner.

Zz.

Random WDW Picture

This is from the Seas with Nemo and Friends.



Sure looks delicious! I wonder if they serve this at Coral Reef restaurant? :)

Zz.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

He Was Promotable

This is a rather interesting interview with Robert Iger (link may require free registration for access) because it also revealed another aspect of his career that I didn't know before. While I've known previously that he is a morning person (like me), what I didn't know that one of his bosses very early in his career didn't think that he was promotable.

Q. Tell me about your best and worst bosses.

A. I’ve worked for some great leaders. Roone Arledge was a consummate perfectionist. He drove everybody to levels of perfection or to come as close as possible to it. You exhausted every possibility there was to make something great or make something better.

Tom Murphy and Dan Burke taught me the importance of trust and managing people. You could learn from them but you also had the opportunity to go out and take those learnings and actually apply them on your own. There was a decentralized approach to the way they ran the company.

Michael Eisner brought me into different types of creativity. I had been mostly a television executive and he taught me about creativity on almost every level, in every direction, from theme-park attractions to stage plays.

My first boss at ABC told me I wasn’t promotable, so I’d have to put him in the category of “bad boss.” Clearly he had poor judgment.


I'd say! I wonder where that person is now....

Zz.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Random WDW Picture

Another picture from a recent Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot.



Zz.

Disney Discounts

With the 2nd Quarter financial report from The Walt Disney Company looming tomorrow, this news article looks at Disney efforts in trying to lure people to the theme parks. In particular it analyzes all the various discounts and promotions Disney has been running.

While I think that the discounts may undercut the profit margin, there's a very good long-term impact on this whereby many folks who would not have visited the theme parks are getting introduced to it. This is a very good Disney brand-name introduction and cultivation.

Then again, the hotel promotions have helped Disney continue its push to keep guests on resort property for the entire duration of their vacations, especially when combined with features such as its free airport-shuttle-and-luggage service and the Disney Dining Plan. Several stock analysts think Disney has been able to use the economic downturn to gain market share from rivals Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando.

Mark Wienkes, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, called Disney's discounts "a very thoughtful, coherent long-term strategy."

Although Wienkes said the discounts will result in "significant [profit] margin erosion" at Disney's U.S. parks this year, he said that is preferable to holding the line on prices at the expense of having fewer people in the parks.

"To the extent that you can sustain the brand — maintain the experience and keep the brand alive — then I would choose that," he said.


It's a tough time for everyone, but Disney has been very wise in what they are doing to survive this period.

Zz.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Who is Your Most Favorite Member of the Fab 5?

Don't forget to participate in our poll. Vote for your most favorite member of the original Fab 5!

Zz.

The Battle of the Disney Reusable Shopping Bags

OK, so we know that Disney has produced several reusable shopping bags. There are those flimsy ones that fold very neatly to fit into a purse. And of course, the Disney Stores have been selling shopping bags with Mickey, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Wall-E themes.

Since late last year, both WDW and Disneyland have been selling "green" reusable bags for around $3 each. They are pretty cute, and I've bought several of them.


The one on the left is from DL, and the one on the right is from WDW. I kinda like the DL version better. The tree is larger, and so is the lettering. I also like the deeper green color.

In addition to that, the Disney Stores also had these special bags for the last Earth Day. This is also the bags that you could have gotten for free with a coupon from Fandango if you bought your tickets with them to see Disneynature's "Earth".


Is that it? Nope!

About a year ago, some friends were visiting the LA/DL area and got me this bag. I am not sure if they got it from the Disney Studios, or from Disney Imagineering. In any case, here's a picture of another Disney reusable bag.


I actually like this one a lot. But since I only have ONE, I'm keeping it as a souvenir. This, of course, defeats the whole purpose of having reusable bags, but I have many of the others, so I'm using those instead.

These bags also make a GREAT gift bag! I didn't have to do a lot of gift warping last holiday season because I used these bags instead to put the gifts in. Everyone loved getting them. So they may be cheap reusable bags, but they also make very good gifts.

Zz.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Random WDW Picture

They used to have this Goofy Pose-A-Matic outside of the Exposition Hall at the Magic Kingdom, but it is no longer there.



Zz.

HK Close To Deal With Disney

This is certainly good news for Hong Kong Disneyland if it is true.

WSJ is reporting unconfirmed news that Disney and the Hong Kong government is close to a deal on the expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland. If you recall from earlier reports, Disney has halted all expansion plans and had started laying off workers related to the expansion due to the lack of agreement between the two parties. It appears that high level talks in LA between the two of them may have benefited both sides.

Zz.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Random WDW Picture

One of my most favorite attraction at WDW - Splash Mountain. Off to find my Laughing Place!



Zz.