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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It's official: Disney is buying Pixar

Wall Street Journal reports that Disney is buying Pixar for $7.4 billion. Nick Wingfield and Merissa Marr write:

    The proposed acquisition also comes with considerable risks. Disney is acquiring Pixar in the midst of a long-profitable winning streak -- all six of its movies have been blockbusters -- in a business where failure is considered an inevitability. It also comes when revenue from DVD sales, a key movie-industry driver, may have passed its peak. The companies face a delicate cultural challenge in trying to maintain Pixar's esprit de corps as it is integrated into a global media giant.

    The deal gives Pixar Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Jobs a seat on Disney's board and a stake of more than 5%. Mr. Jobs, who also heads Apple Computer Inc., will be Disney's largest individual shareholder and a key adviser at a time when the entertainment industry is scrambling for ways to reinvent itself in a digital era.

Here's a video clip from the Journal featuring Jobs and Iger discussing the deal. (You may need to be a subscriber... I'm not sure.)

The LA Times story talks a bit about who'll be running the show:

    Pixar President Ed Catmull will serve in the same position as head of Pixar and Disney animation studios. Meanwhile, John Lasseter, Pixar's highly regarded creative leader, will be chief creative officer of both animation studios and will advise Walt Disney Imagineering on the design of new attractions for Disney theme parks.

Catmull will report to Dick Cook, head of Disney's film studio, and Iger, says The New York Times. Laura Holson and Andrew Ross Sorkin write:

    Disney's own animation unit lagged behind its peers, and Mr. Iger made it a priority to improve its operation. Animation is essential to Disney's success because it provides the characters that drive the company's theme parks, consumer products and cable television programs. In recent years, Pixar has become a steady supplier of such characters.

Here's a piece from Reuters.