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Information about Disney01

Published on November 12, 2007

Author: brod

Source: authorstream.com

Understanding the Disney Universe:  Understanding the Disney Universe Lloyd Spencer Media Theory II Slide2:  From: ‘Disney Bros.’ To: ‘Walt Disney Studios’ To: ‘The Walt Disney Company’ To: ‘Walt Disney Productions’ From Walt to Michael: a ‘vision thing’ :  From Walt to Michael: a ‘vision thing’ Michael D. Eisner CEO Walt Disney Disney’s revenues: (about $23.5 billion in 1999):  Disney’s revenues: (about $23.5 billion in 1999) 32% media networks (broadcast and cable incl. ABC and ESPN) 28% studio entertainment (film and TV production) 26% theme parks and resorts 13% consumer products (merchandise) 1% internet and direct marketing Oh, and don’t forget the ‘synergy’! Disney’s bag of tricks includes::  Disney’s bag of tricks includes: Walt Disney Studios Touchstone, Buena Vista, Miramax and Hollywood labels ABC and ESPN networks; the History Channel Infoseek …and plenty more besides. Globalization::  Globalization: 80% of revenues still come from US (a source of frustration for Disney) Japan is most lucrative foreign market Hong Kong seen as the ‘gateway’ to China EuroDisney - Disney’s determination to conquer the Old World on behalf of the new Integration and convergence::  Integration and convergence: Horizontal integration: diversification and cross-promotion Vertical integration: merging content and distribution Convergence: Disney sees huge potential within (broadband) Internet visit http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/index.html Disney – a magnet for controversy:  Disney – a magnet for controversy The American Dream vs. cultural imperialism Economic might vs. business ethics The ‘Disneyfication’ of culture (e.g. the ‘schmaltz factor, re-writing history) The Disney way vs. image problems (tendency to offend someone) More than a matter of taste: the ‘politics’ of representation The coming crisis at Disney?:  The coming crisis at Disney? Disney went from … profits of $628 million in 2000 …to losses in the region of $150 million announced in December 2001 falling ratings of the ABC television network, failure of some of its most ambitious projects (Pearl Harbour) and falling attendance at its theme parks The Disney century:  The Disney century Walt Disney born on December 5th 1901 pioneer of animated film main producer of “family entertainment” dominated the comics industry pioneer in film merchandising (branding) inventor of the theme park (with a profound influence on town planning) the conglomerate as one man’s vision the 20th was the “Disney century” [T]he ‘Horatio Alger’ of the cinema:  [T]he ‘Horatio Alger’ of the cinema ‘In 1934, Fortune observed that “Enough has been written about Disney’s life and hard times to stamp the bald, Algeresque outline of his career as familiarly on the minds of many Americans as the career of Henry Ford or Abraham Lincoln.”’ [Janet Wasko, Understanding Disney, 2001, p. 13] ‘the Horatio Alger of the cinema’ = a self-made man “Remember … it all began with a mouse” :  “Remember … it all began with a mouse” March 1928, Charlie Mintz, Disney’s distributor, attempted to buy Disney out after buying out all but one of his young animators and Disney lost his successful character Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit, the rights to which were owned by Universal Pictures led to the invention of Mickey Mouse, which Walt Disney developed together with his chief animator, Ub Iwerks …betrayed again:  …betrayed again In late when 1929 Mickey was a huge success, with Mickey Mouse clubs, and an expectant audience Disney was being distributed by his friend, Pat Powers (supplier of sound equipment) Powers not only helped himself to the profits but then attempted to buy out Disney after first stealing Ub Iwerks Entertaining a mass audience:  Entertaining a mass audience ‘From the earliest days of his career, he repeatedly confessed the great passions of his life: he was in love with his work and in love with the idea of entertaining a mass audience.’ Watts, Magic Kingdom, p. 59 …rather than…obscure creative impressions:  …rather than…obscure creative impressions “I am interested in entertaining people, in bringing pleasure, particularly laughter, to others, rather than being concerned with ‘expressing’ myself or obscure creative impressions.” Walt Disney, quoted in Wasko, Understanding Disney, 2001, p. 13 Exploiting technological innovation:  Exploiting technological innovation McReynolds noted that Disney had an ‘unnerving appreciation of technical developments and how to use them for profit.’ As Schickel pointed out, ‘Disney’s gift, from the beginning, was not as is commonly supposed a “genius” for artistic expression; if he had any genius at all it was for the exploitation of technological innovation.’ [Wasko, Understanding Disney, 2001, p.15] Early technical innovations:  Early technical innovations Sound for “Steamboat Willie” (1929) and then for the “Silly Symphonies” Technicolor (1932) for action films (1935) Two-year exclusive deal prohibiting other cartoon makers from using 3-colour process First feature length (cartoon) animation Snow White (1934-1937) Mickey Mouse WITH synchronised sound:  Mickey Mouse WITH synchronised sound first Mickey Mouse cartoon released (actually the third produced) was Steamboat Willie which appeared in 1928, AFTER synchronized sound had been added. These cartoons were hugely popular and earned Disney a distribution contract with Columbia Pictures, ‘even though the amount received often did not cover the costs’. [Wasko, Understanding Disney, 2001, p.10] Silly Symphonies:  Silly Symphonies ‘In 1929 studio began production of the Silly Symphonies, a series of short films that experimented with sound, music, and images, to create moods and emotions, rather than humor as in other Disney productions.’ [Janet Wasko, Understanding Disney, 2001, p. 11] not just gags but characters with “personality” A communicator of ideas:  A communicator of ideas ‘…most accounts agree that Disney’s talent was in story editing and development; he seemed to have an innate sense of what would entertain the public and an ability to communicate his ideas to his staff.’ [Wasko, Understanding Disney, 2001, p. 13] “…true personality in a whole picture”:  “…true personality in a whole picture” The Three Little Pigs Released in May 1933 at the depth of the Depression “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?” when millions of Americans were “trying to keep the wolf from the door” “At last we have achieved true personality in a whole picture” Walt Disney in letter to Roy Merchandising:  Merchandising Walt Disney continued to risk any profits in new ventures Disney brothers were forced to turn to other sources, especially merchandising. 1930 signed a contract with the George Borgfeldt Company for international licensing, production and distribution of Mickey Mouse merchandise ‘In 1932, the company hired a dynamic salesman and innovator, Herman “Kay” Kamen, to head the merchandising division, leading to a proliferation of Disney products.’ [see essay by Richard deCordova] Original Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watch “Disney’s Folly” - Snow White:  “Disney’s Folly” - Snow White Studio work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the company’s first animated feature, began in 1936, with an estimated budget of $150,000 By the time it was completed in 1937, the cost was $1,500,000, and the film was known as “Disney’s Folly”. 2 million frames of film 3 mins of “Heigh-Ho” took 6 months to film a similarly complicated scene was filmed and then eventually cut - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs When film was almost done, inkers and painters had to add blush to Snow White’s cheeks in tens of thousands of drawings. Opened on December 21, 1937 Snow White was an immediate hit, setting attendance records around the USA, with box office grosses of $8,500,000 within its first three months. A new force in merchandising:  A new force in merchandising ‘[T]he merchanidising campaign [that accompanied Snow White] was noted as a “dramatic example of a new force in merchandising”’. ‘As early as 1936, the company granted over 70 licences to various companies to produce a wide range of items, including clothing, food, toys, books, phonograph records, and sheet music. Disney’s fun factory:  Disney’s fun factory ‘While continuing to produce several cartoon series based on Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto and Goofy, the studio also worked on new animated features. Pinocchio and Fantasia were both released in 1940, followed by Dumbo (1941), The Reluctant Dragon (1941), and Bambi (1942).’ [Janet Wasko, Understanding Disney, 2001, p.14] 1941 Strike at Disney studios:  1941 Strike at Disney studios A strike in 1941 closed the studio down completely for nine months Disney felt betrayed (“once again”) and demanded loyalty and a “family-business” ethos when “Disney” had become and industry his own risk-taking (putting profits back into the business) meant low wages, and meagre security for employees Walt Disney: anti-communist:  Walt Disney: anti-communist Disney became vehemently anti-communist, chairman of the Motion Picture Alliance (MPA) for the Preservation of American Ideals, which laid the foundation for the Hollywood blacklist and was the inspiration for the investigation of Hollywood by the House Un-American Activities Committee full development of this side of Disney was not apparent till after 1945 and the defeat of Germany and Japan Disney was conscripted an icon of what American’s were fighting for Walt Disney’s signature:  Walt Disney’s signature As William McReynolds has observed, there is a “pseudo-religious aura which has come to surround his name before and since his death.” Disney’s “genius”?:  Disney’s “genius”? It may not be surprising that the story of Walt Disney seems to have special, almost sacred, meaning for Americans…Even the more critically oriented biographies often attempt to psychoanalyze the man through the products, inevitably concluding with consummate praise for Disney’s genius. [Janet Wasko, 2001, p.7 citing Eliot, 1993] Summary:  Summary What role do we assign one man, Walt? Is there a Disney way of doing business? If there is, how does it evolve? What changes? What did it take to “exploit technological innovation”? What do we make of the series of “betrayals” that figure in the Disney story? Why does “Disney” becomes so strongly identified with the American way? Final thought...:  Final thought... What evidence have we of Disney’s “genius”? Wherein precisely does it lie? To speak of the “magic” of Disney is to suggest that there is something here which defies analysis. But THAT, precisely, is the point of a “case study” Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks, edited by Durham and Kellner (Blackwells, 2001):  Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks, edited by Durham and Kellner (Blackwells, 2001) All of the readings from semester one are relevant. In lectures, explicit reference to the essays by Walter Benjamin (ch.3) and Garnham (ch.14) are likely. In addition you should read Horkheimer and Adorno (ch.4), Dorfman and Mattelart (ch. 9) and Baudrillard (ch. 26). Readings from Jack Zipes :  Jack Zipes Jack Zipes "Breaking the Disney spell" in From mouse to mermaid : the politics of film, gender, and culture, edited by Elizabeth Bell, Lynda Haas and Laura Sells, Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1995 also in Jack Zipes, Fairy Tale as Myth, Myth as Fairy Tale, University Press of Kentucky, 1994 Jack Zipes ”Lion Kings and the Culture Industry" in Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales, Children and the Culture Industry, Routledge, 1997 Janet Wasko:  Janet Wasko Janet Wasko, Understanding Disney, Oxford, Blackwells, 2001 Janet Wasko "Understanding the Disney universe" in Mass Media and Society, 2nd edition, edited by Curran and Gurevitch, London, Arnold, 1991 [N.B. the essay is not necessarily in other editions] Useful general treatments or collections of essays :  Useful general treatments or collections of essays Eleanor Byrne and Martin McQuillan, Deconstructing Disney, London, Pluto, 1999 Eric Smoodin (editor), Disney Discourse: producing the magic kingdom, London, Routledge, 1994 Henry A. Giroux, The mouse that roared : Disney and the end of innocence, Lanham, MA: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999 Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, How to read Donald Duck: imperialist ideology in the Disney comic, New York: International General, 1991 Biographical and historical:  Biographical and historical Richard Hollis [and] Brian Sibley, The Disney studio story, London, Octopus Books, 1988 Marc Elliot, Walt Disney: Hollywood's dark prince: a biography, London, Andre Deutsch, 1995 Eve Zibart, Inside Disney: the incredible story of Walt Disney World and the man behind the mouse, Foster City, CA : IDG Books Worldwide, 2000 On the Disney corporation: business and work practices:  On the Disney corporation: business and work practices ‘The Mouse in Macy’s Window’ in Eric Smoodin (editor), Disney Discourse: producing the magic kingdom, London, Routledge, 1994 Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson, The Disney way: harnessing the management secrets of Disney in your company, New York, McGraw-Hill, 1998 Sean Griffin, Tinker belles and evil queens: the Walt Disney Company from the inside out, New York, New York University Press, 2000 On Disneyland and other Disney theme parks:  On Disneyland and other Disney theme parks Karen Klugman, Susan Willis, ... [et al.] Inside the mouse: work and play at Disney World, London : Rivers Oram Press, 1995 Alan Bryman, Disney and his worlds, London, Routledge, 1995 Stephen M. Fjellman, Vinyl leaves: Walt Disney World and America, Boulder, Westview Press, 1992

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