Following months of contract negotiation Pixar has decided to conclude its discussions to extend its long-standing partnership with The Walt Disney Company following the delivery of two more animated features, The Incredibles this year and Cars in 2005.
Disney chairman and CEO Michael Eisner released the following statement: “We have had a fantastic partnership with Pixar and wish Steve Jobs and the wonderfully creative team there, led by John Lasseter, much success in the future. Although we would have enjoyed continuing our successful collaboration under mutually acceptable terms, Pixar understandably has chosen to go its own way to grow as an independent company.”
Tom Staggs, Disney Sr. exec. VP and CFO, said Disney management could not accept Pixar’s final offer because it would have cost Disney hundreds of millions of dollars it is already entitled to under the existing agreement, while not providing sufficient incremental returns on new collaborations to justify the changes to the existing deal.
While the Pixar team is moving on, don’t expect to see Nemo, Buzz Lightyear and the other Disney/Pixar characters going with them. Under the current contract, Disney maintains the rights to develop and produce sequels to all films created through the partnership, including direct to video presentations, television series and specials; and to exploit all characters and content throughout Disney’s theme park and consumer products units. Disney also maintains ownership of the entire Disney/Pixar film library, which includes Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, Monster’s Inc., and Finding Nemo, in addition to the two pictures yet to be completed.
In addition to Pixar, the Walt Disney Studios has relationships with other emerging animation producing partners including Vanguard Films, currently producing Valiant, and San Francisco-based Complete Pandemonium, producing The Wild in conjunction with CORE Technologies of Toronto.
As it says goodbye to Pixar, Disney will also give 2D animation a send off with Home on the Range, slated for release on April 2. After that, it’s all CG as far as the eye can see. Currently in production is Chicken Little, the studio’s first all-CG effort, which is scheduled to hit theaters Summer 2005. Also in the works is A Day With Wilbur Robinson, based on the beloved William Joyce book, American Dog, directed by Chris Sanders (Lilo and Stitch), Rapunzel Unbraided, directed by veteran Disney animator Glen Keane and Toy Story 3. The Studio has an additional 20 animated features in active development.