Buenavista/Disney Pictures

By Ahmed Sabih

Image courtesy of thewaltdisneystudios.com

Company History

The Walt Disney Studios was founded in 1923 under the moniker “The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio”. The company built its early success on its slate of animated classics such as Alice in Wonderland and Snow White and maintaining success with these animated pictures with hits like The Lion King and Aladdin. [1] Buena Vista is the company, owned by Disney, which distributes the content from the divisions under Disney. These divisions include Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Marvel Studios, Touchstone Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and others. Disney also has subsidiaries in Pixar Animation Studios and recently acquired Lucasfilm. [2] [3]

Key Executives

Robert A. Iger – Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company

BOB IGER

Bob Iger – Photo courtesy of thewaltdisneycompany.com

 Alan F. Horn – Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios

Alan Horn - Photo courtesy of thewaltdisneycompany.com

Alan Horn – Photo courtesy of thewaltdisneycompany.com

 Alan Bergman – President, The Walt Disney Studios

Alan Bergman - Photo courtesy of waltdisneystudios.com

Alan Bergman – Photo courtesy of waltdisneystudios.com

Financials

Disney has begun its fiscal 2014 (Oct-Dec) strong, with revenues hitting just above $12.3 billion, an increase from fourth quarter fiscal 2013 revenues of $11.5 billion. Highlights of the past fiscal year include Earnings Per Share (EPS) values increasing 8 percent to a record $3.38. Disney also set records for Net Income, which increased rose 8 percent to  $6.1 billion. [4] [5]

Current Slate

Frozen

Image courtesy of imdb.com

Frozen, Disney’s big animated hit of the holiday season, released on November 27th, 2013.  Led by the voices of Kirsten Bell and Idina Menzel, Frozen is the tale of Anna and Elsa, two sisters whose lives change when Elsa’s magical wintery powers accidentally set off an eternal winter. Elsa retreats to the mountains and it is up to Anna, her friend Kristoff with his reindeer Sven, and childhood snowman come-alive Olaf to help Elsa tame her powers and rescue the village. [6] [7]

Much of Disney’s success during the past quarter can be attributed to Frozen, which saw record-breaking numbers. With a production budget of $150 million, Frozen‘s opening weekend saw domestic totals of $67.3 million. However, as of April 20th, Frozen is about to eclipse a whopping $400 million domestic total. Worldwide, Frozen has reached over $1.1 billion, which is the highest ever gross for an animated film. [8] With further windows opening later down the road, DVD sales, merchandise and soundtrack sales should help Disney cash in fully on the success of Frozen.

The film did well with regards to reviews. Metacritic gave it 74 out of 100 based on 43 critic reviews. [9] Many critics lauded Frozen as a return to the excellence of Disney’s pedigree. Certainly the numbers can back that statement. In addition, reviews praised the technical aspect of the film, citing the 3-D Animation to be top notch. Frozen won two Academy Awards — Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song (“Let It Go”).

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Image courtesy of imdb.com

Kicking off the blockbuster season, Disney continued the big-time Marvel franchise starting on April 4th. With big name stars such as Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson,  the film follows the story of Steve Rogers, Captain America, as he must adapt to modern times and modern crimes. When a colleague at S.H.I.E.L.D is attacked, a conspiracy web is revealed, the consequences of which are dire. Captain America teams up with the Black Widow and Falcon in order to put an end to the plot, but they are met by unexpected foes. [10]

As the summer season is starting up, Captain America started strong on its opening weekend, grossing $95 million domestically. Its budget is estimated at $170 million, and as of April 20th, The Winter Soldier has grossed over $201 million domestically, with a worldwide gross of over $586 million. As we get into the thick of the summer season, it should have the legs to gain more money for Disney and deliver on its blockbuster potential. [11] One way Disney is helping to promote its long-term success is by offering fans their own S.H.I.E.L.D badge through May 25th and spreading the word of the film into the midst of the summer. [12]

Review-wise, The Winter Soldier has done well, scoring a 70 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 44 critic reviews. Generally, the film is praised among critics for its acting, and special effects and ability to deliver as a sequel in the superhero genre. However, the general consensus is that the film isn’t truly remarkable enough to stay in the memories of audiences for too long. [13]

What Lies Ahead

Image courtesy of imdb.com

Disney’s summer slate looks to fill the summer with star power. Million Dollar Arm, set to release May 16th, stars Mad Men’s front man Jon Hamm. Inspired by true events, the story follows baseball scout JB Bernstein’s quest to find the next star pitcher. He travels to India to make a reality-show competition to find a cricket player that will sign a league contract as a pitcher. The film co-stars Slumdog Millionaire actor Madhur Mittal, and it will likely look to capitalize on his international presence. [14]

Image courtesy of imdb.com

Opposite Million Dollar Arm is Disney’s Maleficent, starring blockbuster specialist Angelina Jolie. An homage to Disney’s roots, the film is about the untold story of Maleficent, the villain from the 1959 classic, Sleeping Beauty, and her transformation of heart to stone, revealing her reasoning to curse the baby Aurora. Elle Fanning brings extra star power in a supporting role, as does Charlto Copley and Sam Riley. [15] The soundtrack will feature hit-artist Lana Del Rey, with early commercials featuring her re-imagining of the song, “Once Upon A Dream” from the 1959 film.

Image courtesy of imdb.com

Looking even further ahead, Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm brings the biggest blockbuster of them all, Star Wars, to the horizon of Disney. Buzz is already being generated for the films, bringing out the big guns by signing J.J. Abrams as the director for the new trilogy. As of now, the first of the trilogy is set to release around December 2015. [16]

 

Sources

[1] The Walt Disney Studios Company History

[2] The Studios of Disney

[3] Disney acquires Lucasfilm Ltd

[4] Disney First Quarter Earnings 2014

[5] Disney Fourth Quarter Earnings 2014

[6] IMDB – Frozen

[7] Box Office Mojo – Frozen

[8] Deadline: Frozen Highest International Grossing Animated Picture of All Time

[9] Metacritic – Frozen

[10] IMDB – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

[11] Box Office Mojo – Captain America

[12] SHIELD Badge Promotion

[13] Metacritic – Captain America

[14] IMDB – Million Dollar Arm

[15] IMDB – Maleficent

[16] IMDB – Star Wars (2015)

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