The long awaited promises of a new distribution deal have finally come to fruition. Pixar has struck a new deal with Disney to distribute their movies. The distribution fee is said to be low with the profits split 0% to Pixar and 100% to Disney. Okay, so that was a bad joke. The reality is of course; Disney purchased Pixar earlier today and walked away with a lot. What did Pixar get out of this? Not much.
For the mere price of $7.2 billion in a stock transaction, Disney now has John Lasseter as the new creative head of both Pixar and Disney Feature Animation. Ed Catmull becomes the president of the same, while the loser in all of this was David Stainton, who has left Disney. The house of mouse suddenly gets pumped full of creative and technical goodness along with a promise from Iger that the Disney corporate culture will change. Pixar on the other hand gets… Umm? Well? Distribution?
What Pixar gets out of all of this is unclear. What was clear is that Steve Jobs was fumbling all over himself during a Disney conference call this afternoon. When asked by a caller what made the Disney offer attractive as opposed to just getting a distribution agreement with them or someone else. Steve suddenly sounded like a confused man. I wish I could of seen his face, he must of looked like a deer on a dark highway as a semi trailer is approaching at full speed.
Face the facts. Steve Jobs sold out. Every promise he has made over the past few years has pretty much ended up as hot air. The shock must be hard for Pixar shareholders who have no choice but go along with it and roll with the punches. It really feels like Steve did this more for Apple than Pixar. Now that he sits on the board of Disney, if he can avoid a conflict of interest probe, he can try to steer more Disney content to iTunes.
Those that I know at Pixar are more than a little pissed off. They were this little company that rose up and slayed dragons to become ruler of the animation universe. Now they have been gobbled up and a lot of their ‘independent studio conquers world’ dreams are squashed. I don’t blame them. They are now part of the machine. Let’s just hope that Steve and Bob follow through with their promises that the Pixar cult (I mean culture. Or do I?) will continue untouched.
I believe Mr. Lasseter and pals head to Burbank today to rally the troops in a big giant group hug. Hopefully, it will go better than the attempted love fest today at Pixar as they announced to the studio that they have been swallowed whole.