Disney/Pixar Divide Widens

Any smoldering embers of hope for reconciliation between Disney and Pixar have been all but extinguished with the latest set of exchanges between the studio and the animation house. Both sides have been publicly trading barbs and droving the wedge between them even deeper.

During a recent investor conference call, Pixar head Steve Jobs told his audience not to expect any collaboration with Disney beyond the 2006 release, Cars, the last film included in Pixar’s soon-to-expire contract with the Mouse House.

The widening gulf between the companies grew recently when outgoing Disney CEO Michael Eisner used the words “pretty pathetic” when describing some artistic aspects in Disney/Pixar films. Jobs got his chance to respond, quipping, “I know our films don’t stack up against Atlantis or The Emperor’s New Groove or Treasure Planet."

All post-Cars Pixar pics will be self-financed. The company is in production on its first solo project and plans to release details of its production slate by the end of the year, at which time a new distribution partner should be named.

With Finding Nemo keeping the home video business brisk, Pixar’s earnings for 2004 were up 11% at $141.7 million, despite a 34% profit drop in the fourth quarter. The outlook for 2005 looks much rosier with The Incredibles expected to top $600 million in worldwide box office before making a killing on DVD and VHS.