by Izzy LynchContact
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History and Properties
The Walt Disney Studios is the world-renowned film division of the film-turned-lifestyle corporation, The Walt Disney Company (NASDAQ: DIS) . Founded in 1923 under the name The Disney Brothers Studios by brothers Walter E. Disney and Roy O. Disney, the company gained recognition for Walt’s impressive art in second dimension animation and the rich character portrayals . The company has become the most successful animation brand in the world, crafting iconic characters such as Mickey Mouse, and producing timeless features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Mary Poppins (1964), Lion King (1994) and many more. Since the studios’ inception, the company has grown to host multiple lucrative businesses, including resorts, theme parks, and merchandise, all utilizing the characters created through the company’s television and film productions. The studios have expanded their reach to include The Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, The Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios (2006), Lucasfilm Limited LLC (2012), Marvel Studios (2009), Touchstone Pictures, Disneynature, and Disneytoon Studios. Films produced by these subsidiaries are distributed through The Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, formerly known as Buena Vista Pictures .
As of 2005, Robert A. Iger has headed The Walt Disney Company, serving as both Chief Executive Officer and Chairman . Iger reinstated the company’s relationship with the previously affiliated Pixar Animation Studios in 2006, which led to the hiring of Pixar Chief Executive Officer John Lasseter and Pixar President Edwin Catmull to head the then floundering Disney Animation sector of the studios. Since incorporating the two as Chief Creative Officer and President of the Walt Disney Animation Studios respectively in 2008, the company has seen an incredible improvement in the quality of content, producing blockbuster hits including Wreck It Ralph (2012), Frozen (2013), and Big Hero 6 (2014) .
The Walt Disney Company, which became a publicly traded entity in 1940 , released its Q4 and 2014 financial reports on November 6th, 2014 to reveal record-breaking numbers for the fourth year in a row. Along with impressive numbers from the overall company, Studio Entertainment revenues soared 22% from last year, earning nearly $7.3 billion out of the nearly $49 billion company revenue total, garnering the largest increase in revenue of the Company’s other business ventures .
Recently, the company experienced an impressive increase in their current trading price with the release of their eighty-eight second Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser. Trading prices for the company rose to a share price of $92.96 on Friday, November 28th , which has proven to be not only a 52-week high, but also an all time high for the company . While stock prices represent the entire Walt Disney Company, it is important to note that the characters from the film productions are an integral part of what keeps the company relevant and popular, which has a significant impact on the stock price.
The Walt Disney Studios operates their production of films in the format of larger tent-pole franchises supporting the lower budget features. The company tends to produce films that fulfill the requirements of the four quadrants of moviegoers: both male and female, over and under 25 years of age.
After Disney’s overwhelming domestic and international success of 2013’s animated hit Frozen, the company has continued to produce high quality and exceptionally profitable films throughout its current slate , which includes both live action and animated features. Towards the closing of a strong summer for the company, with releases such as Maleficent and Planes: Fire and Rescue, Marvel Studios released the tent-pole live action film Guardians of the Galaxy , which has garnered the title of being the top grossing film of 2014 with a total earning of $331.1 million at the global box office; a considerable achievement for its $170 million budget . Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Bradley Cooper, the film explores the uniting of a motley crew attempting to save the galaxy at the hands of an evil villain . The film premiered on August 1st, 2014, and was highly praised by critics and audiences alike, scoring a 90% critic approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes .
Guardians of the Galaxy served as the ideal primer for the November 7th release of Big Hero 6, a collaboration of the Walt Disney Animation Studios and Marvel Studios. Big Hero 6, with its $165 million production budget , incorporated characters from Marvel’s 5,000-character bank into the Animation Studios’ computer generated imagery format . The result was a success; the film garnering a $50 million domestic box office in its opening weekend, as well as gaining the top spot of the weekend box office ahead of highly anticipated films, such as Warner Brothers’ Interstellar . The film has netted $224.1 million in the worldwide box office to date .
The Walt Disney Studios have many high profile projects planned for release through 2019, having announced multiple films from each of its accompanying brands. Many of these films include live-action reboots of past Disney classics, continuations of prior franchises, or new franchise launches.
The most highly anticipated upcoming releases include the reboots of the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, directed by the talented J.J. Abrams, utilizes the Lucasfilm-constructed universe to continue the saga and is scheduled for release in December, 2015. The film, which takes place in a time after Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983), starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and others from the first installment of the series, has generated great interest. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger has announced that his contract has been extended from terminating in March 2015 to June 2018 to oversee the release of two of the three upcoming Star Wars films .
Walt Disney Studios has also announced the continuation of the wildly popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, with a new film scheduled to be released in the summer of 2017. The film will be titled Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales .
Marvel plans to continue the producing widely profitable Avengers, Thor, Captain America, and Guardian of the Galaxy franchises, scheduling to release sequels to the films through 2018. Marvel has multiple other first-appearance films set to premier as well .
Pixar Animation Studios has announced the production of Toy Story 4, which came as a shock to many after the seemingly neat conclusion of the franchise with the release of Toy Story 3 (2010) . Pixar has also announced plans to revive The Incredibles and Finding Nemo films with sequels, including the anticipated release of the film Finding Dory in 2016 . Pixar is anticipating the release of their next film, Inside Out, a story told through a child’s emotions, in June of 2015 .
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