Will Nemo’s Success Put a Damper on Disney/Pixar Talks?

Now that Andrew Stanton’s Finding Nemo blew all the competition out of the water with a $70.2 million gross this past weekend, insiders are talking about how this turn of event is going to affect Disney and Pixar’s upcoming talks about their future together. As a direct result of Nemo’s outstanding performance at the box office, Pixar shares rose $2.23, or 4%, to close at $58.78 after a bullish trading session on Monday.

David Davis, senior VP and box office analyst at Houlihan, Lokey, Howard & Zukin told Variety, “It looks like Nemo is going to be the most successful of their movies, (so) Pixar couldn’t have picked a better time to renegotiate.”

Under its current contract with Disney, Pixar is able to start looking for a new distributor after the delivery of Nemo. Apparently, Pixar head Steve Jobs has been in talks with Disney CEO Michael Eisner. In any case, Pixar and Disney’s partnership continues through the delivery of the CG toon shop’s next two pictures The Incredibles and Cars.

Sources point out that Jobs is hoping that Disney will accept new terms, offering the Mouse House only a distribution fee for handling the Pixar pictures. (Right now, Disney gets a distribution fee on top of a 50% share of box office, in exchange for offering half of the film’s production costs.) As it stands, Jobs has refused to make any more sequels until new terms are determined. But, under terms of the current agreement, Disney could force the issue by agreeing to pay 100% of production costs, leaving Pixar with a mere “royalty fee” of uncertain value.