Disney will Ban Smoking in all Future Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm Movies

Bob Iger

From Business Insider

Disney will ban smoking in all its future movies aimed towards kids.

Bob Iger said the company will “absolutely prohibit” the use of smoking in Disney films rated PG-13 and under at Thursday’s annual shareholder meeting during a Q&A session.

“We are extending our policy to prohibit smoking in movies across the board: Marvel, Lucas, Pixar, and Disney films,” said Iger.

Iger said the only exception will be in films which involve historical figures known for smoking.

“For instance, we’ve been doing a movie on Abraham Lincoln, he was a smoker, and we would consider that acceptable,” said Iger. “But in terms of any new characters that are created for any of those films, under any of those labels, we will absolutely prohibit smoking in any of those films.”

Disney previously put a smoking ban in place to movies produced by the company after 2007.

The company details its no-smoking policy in films on its website.

Here’s the outline, which was last updated March 20, 2012:

  • Disney policy prohibits product placement or promotion deals with respect to tobacco products for any movie it produces and Disney includes a statement to this effect on any movie in which tobacco products are depicted for which Disney is the sole or lead producer.
  • Disney has determined not to depict cigarette smoking in movies produced by it after 2007 and distributed under the Disney label.
  • Disney discourages depictions of cigarette smoking in movies produced in the United States for which a Disney entity is the sole or lead producer and which are released either as a Touchstone movie or Marvel movie, and seeks to limit cigarette smoking in those movies that are not rated “R” to:
    •   scenes in which smoking is part of the historical, biographical or cultural context of the scene oris important to the character or scene from a factual or creative standpoint, or
    •   scenes in which cigarette smoking is portrayed in an unfavorable light or the negative consequences of smoking are emphasized;
  • Disney will place anti-smoking public service announcements on DVD’s of new and newly re-mastered titles, not rated “R,” that depict cigarette smoking and will work with theater owners to encourage the exhibition of an anti-smoking public service announcement before the theatrical exhibition of any such movie.
  • Disney will include provisions in third-party distribution agreements for movies it distributes that are produced by others in the United States and for which principal photography has not begun at the time the third-party distribution agreement is signed advising filmmakers that it discourages depictions of cigarette smoking in movies that are not rated “R.”
  • For movies produced outside the United States or where Disney’s influence over the content of films is limited (such as movies co-produced by Disney), Disney seeks to discourage depiction of smoking in movies that are not rated “R” where we believe it is appropriate and practical to do so.
  • Disney regularly reviews the incidence of depictions of smoking in movies distributed by Disney entities. Compiled results of such reviews will be made public.

Sony Pictures Entertainment Brings Marvel Studios Into The Amazing World Of Spider-Man


Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios announced today that Sony is bringing Marvel into the amazing world of Spider-Man.

Under the deal, the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU). Sony Pictures will thereafter release the next installment of its $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by Kevin Feige and his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films.

Marvel and Sony Pictures are also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films.

The new relationship follows a decade of speculation among fans about whether Spider-Man – who has always been an integral and important part of the larger Marvel Universe in the comic books – could become part of the Marvel Universe on the big screen. Spider-Man has more than 50 years of history in Marvel’s world, and with this deal, fans will be able to experience Spider-Man taking his rightful place among other Super Heroes in the MCU.

Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company said: “Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s great characters, beloved around the world. We’re thrilled to work with Sony Pictures to bring the iconic web-slinger into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which opens up fantastic new opportunities for storytelling and franchise building.”

“We always want to collaborate with the best and most successful filmmakers to grow our franchises and develop our characters. Marvel, Kevin Feige and Amy, who helped orchestrate this deal, are the perfect team to help produce the next chapter of Spider-Man,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “This is the right decision for the franchise, for our business, for Marvel, and for the fans.”

“Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios share a love for the characters in the Spider-Man universe and have a long, successful history of working together. This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future,” added Doug Belgrad, president, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group.

“I am thrilled to team with my friends at Sony Pictures along with Amy Pascal to produce the next Spider-Man movie,” said Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. “Amy has been deeply involved in the realization on film of one of the world’s most beloved characters. Marvel’s involvement will hopefully deliver the creative continuity and authenticity that fans demand from the MCU. I am equally excited for the opportunity to have Spider-Man appear in the MCU, something which both we at Marvel, and fans alike, have been looking forward to for years.”

Spider-Man, embraced all over the world, is the most successful franchise in the history of Sony Pictures, with the five films having taken in more than $4 billion worldwide.

Is Disney CFO Jay Rasulo About to be Named COO?


From Variety

Jay Rasulo, senior executive VP and chief financial officer of the Walt Disney Co., whose longtime deal expires in two weeks, has not yet signed a new contract, according to a proxy statement the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

His decision to so far not file for an extension comes as Disney chief Bob Iger and the board are planning to name a chief operating officer by spring.

The new COO will most likely be groomed to replace Iger when he retires as chairman and CEO as planned on June 30, 2018. On March 12, Disney will hold its annual shareholders meeting in San Francisco, where 10 members of Disney’s board will be up for election, including Iger.

Rasulo isn’t the only executive vying for the post. Disney’s parks and resorts chief Thomas Staggs is also a serious contender for the COO role, and many believe he’s the frontrunner.

Rasulo, whose current deal expires Jan. 31, 2015, according to the proxy statement, is Disney’s second highest-paid executive behind Iger. In fiscal 2014, Iger earned $46.5 million in salary, stock and other compensation; Rasulo made $16 million, up from $10.7 million in fiscal 2013, the SEC document showed.

Given his financial experience, Rasulo could easily fit the bill of COO. And his reluctance to sign a new contract before Iger chooses a candidate makes sense. Working without a contract would give Rasulo the option to leave Disney without penalty should he oppose Iger’s choice.

According to the proxy statement, the increase in Rasulo’s earnings in 2014 was attributed to “effective management of efficiency across multiple areas of spending including leadership of a company-wide project that significantly reduced overhead costs over the past two years; leadership of multiple initiatives to build direct to consumer capabilities across the company through data analysis and the use of business intelligence technology” and his support of the acquisition and integration of Maker Studios, “opening a new content and distribution platform for the company.”

Rasulo’s ability to maintain a strong balance sheet, including successful debt offerings and negotiation of the recapitalization of Disneyland Paris; the continued reorganization and consolidation of corporate functions including sourcing and procurement, product integrity, cash forecasting, collections and corporate financial decision support; and management of philanthropic program, the Disney Citizenship group, also were cited.

Staggs previously spent 12 years as chief financial officer, also giving him the financial acumen for the COO position. He played a key role in acquiring Capital Cities/ABC, Pixar and Marvel, during which he worked closely with Iger. He first joined Disney as a manager of strategic planning in 1990.

He is in the midst of building Shanghai Disneyland, and expanding Animal Kingdom, in Orlando, with the addition of Avatar Land. Both parks are expected to be major revenue generators for the company. Parks and resorts are Disney’s second-largest contributor to its bottom line each year.

Disney and Shanghai Shendi Group, a consortium of state-owned companies in China, have committed $5.5 billion to build Shanghai Disneyland, with the Mouse House operating the park and carrying a controlling 43% stake.

According to Bob Iger ‘Star Wars’ Theme Park Attractions will be Based on New Films, Not Old

Star Wars - Force Awakens

From Variety

Two years after buying Lucasfilm for $4 billion, Disney is starting to reveal just how “Star Wars” will be integrated into the company’s theme parks.

Main attractions will be based on new sequels and spinoffs — the first of which, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” bows next year — not the older films in George Lucas’ sci-fi franchise, according to Walt Disney Co. chief Bob Iger.

“There will be a much larger ‘Star Wars’ presence in our parks globally,” Iger said during a Q&A at Variety‘s Dealmakers Breakfast on Wednesday, presented by Bank of America and sponsored by Delta. “But we want to do this big, which takes time, and to do it right.”

For Disney and its team of theme park designers at Walt Disney Imagineering, that meant waiting until director J.J. Abrams could reveal his plans for “The Force Awakens.”

Disney could have easily started producing new rides based on the original “Star Wars” films — and early development on new rides did revolve around the first six “Star Wars” movies. But Iger didn’t want a situation in which theme park guests would be disappointed with an attraction after seeing “The Force Awakens.”

“I didn’t want someone to say, ‘I just saw the movie and there’s nothing in that movie in this (attraction),” Iger said. “We waited to see what this film would have in it.”

As a result, Iger stopped early development on theme park attractions at Imagineering. “We couldn’t tell them what was new,” Iger said, until Abrams was finished developing and producing the sequel. “I slowed it all down so what we come forward with will have a blend of the past, present and maybe the future,” referencing upcoming sequels and spinoff films. “Now we have a sense of what’s in ‘Star Wars 8,’ and what some of the standalone films will have in them.”

The older films, their worlds and characters already are featured in the “Star Tours” attraction at Disney’s parks.

Iger has previously said that “Star Wars” would have “a significant presence” inside the company’s resorts. “Why not?” he asked on Wednesday. “We bought the thing. We can do that now.” The first look at the new “Star Wars” attractions are expected to be revealed next year.

During the conversation with Variety co-editor-in-chief Claudia Eller inside the Palm restaurant in Beverly Hills, Iger noted how he has repeatedly stressed to Abrams that the future of the franchise and the company’s acquisition of Lucasfilm rides on the success of “The Force Awakens,” out in theaters Dec. 18, 2015.

“I keep telling J.J. Abrams this is a $4 billion movie,” Iger said, in reference to the Lucasfilm deal, not the actual budget of the film. “We need to treat this very special. It’s an unbelievable privilege and unbelievable responsibility to take a jewel and treat it in a way that is respectful of its past but brings it into the future.”

Early reaction to a teaser trailer already has been strong.

The 88-second teaser, which includes just 39 seconds of footage, has been viewed over 110 million times, Iger said, in addition to 40 million views of spoofs created around the footage.

Disney nearly didn’t release a trailer, Iger admitted. Abrams is known for wanting to keep footage of his films under wraps. But the rabid “Star Wars” fanbase prompted Disney to come up with the brief introduction of what the new film would look like.

Iger said there’s a big opportunity to reach a younger demo that’s attracted to the”Star Wars” franchise through Lego toys, as well as foreign markets like China where the original films in the 1970s and ’90s weren’t as popular because of the size of the theatrical market in those territories at the time.

Disney is anticipating that “curiosity will extend beyond the people who grew up with the movies,” Iger said, and Disney “has done a tremendous amount of work in how (the films) will be brought to market and where the opportunities are” in growing the franchise.

One way to do that is the way “The Force Awakens” is produced.

Iger noted how Abrams has relied more on physical sets and props that are significant in size and scope, rather than computer-generated imagery.

“That will give the film a look that will be extremely respectful of the look George (Lucas) created in the ’70s,” Iger said, “and will play well with ardent ‘Star Wars’ fans and play well with audiences today.”

Iger noted how the use of computer-generated graphics has made filmmaking seem “too easy.” “There’s a sameness to a lot of these films today,” Iger said. “The wow factor isn’t what it used to be. J.J. decided to create the physical wow factor.”

Iger Gets 2nd Contract Extension

Bob Iger

From The New York Times

Robert A. Iger will remain Disney’s chief executive and chairman until June 2018, an extension of two years beyond his previously extended retirement date, which reflects a continuing streak of success at the world’s largest entertainment company.

The second extension, announced by the Walt Disney Company on Thursday, will be his last: Mr. Iger, 63, plans to name a chief operating officer next year, an appointment that will signal his heir apparent and end a succession competition between two well-regarded internal candidates.

Under the terms of Mr. Iger’s last contract, signed in July 2013, he was to step down as chief executive and chairman in June 2016.

“I don’t usually like to talk publicly about C.E.O.s, making them feel good about themselves, but he has simply been doing an amazing job,” said Michael Nathanson, a senior media analyst at MoffettNathanson. “He has a China strategy. He is honest about businesses that are not doing well. He’s investing for future growth at a time when a lot of C.E.O.s are just buying back stock.”

Starting last spring, Mr. Iger began receiving private inquiries about his post-Disney plans. A small but influential group of sports executives, for instance, pushed him to consider becoming Major League Baseball’s next commissioner. The rumblings started a discussion by Disney’s board to retain Mr. Iger even longer than he had already agreed to stay.

Under Mr. Iger’s nine-year leadership, Disney’s market capitalization has risen to $153 billion from $48.4 billion. Disney shares have recently traded a little below $90, an increase of 40 percent compared to a year ago. Disney reported profit of $6.14 billion last year, an 8 percent increase from the year before.

Almost every division of Disney has been thriving. Movies have emerged as a strong spot after Mr. Iger’s acquisitions of Marvel Entertainment, Lucasfilm and Pixar. ESPN has been holding its own. Disney’s video game division appears to have turned a corner, having found a long-lasting hit in Infinity, a game that allows players to combine Pixar, Disney and Marvel characters.

ABC has struggled, though, as hit shows like “Desperate Housewives” and “Dancing With the Stars” have either faded or ended their runs, and the broadcast television business has faced overall upheaval. But even ABC may be perking up. The new shows “Black-ish” and “How to Get Away With Murder” are both early ratings successes.

Mr. Iger’s pay — well below that given to some media moguls who run smaller entertainment companies — did not change under his previous extension. Disney’s results have only improved since then, but Mr. Iger has agreed to remain with the same annual performance-based contract. Mr. Iger received overall compensation valued at $34.3 million for Disney’s last fiscal year, down from $40.2 million in 2012, according to regulatory filings.

However, Disney said Mr. Iger had the opportunity to earn a performance-based retention bonus if certain financial goals were met over a five-year period ending with the 2018 fiscal year. Disney said it would disclose those details in a coming regulatory filing.

Big media companies have a spotty track record when it comes to succession planning, and Mr. Iger took over Disney in 2005 after a period of turbulence following a bitter dispute between Michael Eisner and Roy E. Disney.

But Mr. Nathanson said that keeping Mr. Iger in place did not signal that Disney needed more time to groom a successor. The Magic Kingdom has long had two princes waiting in the wings: James A. Rasulo, chief financial officer; and Thomas O. Staggs, chairman of Disney’s theme park division.

By remaining Disney’s chief executive, Mr. Iger will be able to see to fruition the opening of Shanghai Disneyland — a resort on par with Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. — as well as the continued integration of Lucasfilm, which Disney bought in 2012 for $4 billion. Disney is also spending $400 million on an “Avatar”-themed expansion at Walt Disney World.

Disney is not without challenges. Pixar did not release a film this year, the first time since 2005 that the film studio had gone 12 months without a new movie, leading to questions about the studio’s creative footing. Disney Channel ratings have softened, and ESPN faces a new challenger in Fox Sports and potentially added muscle among cable providers reluctant to pay ever-higher carriage fees.

Mr. Iger, who is also a member of the Apple board, started his entertainment career at ABC in 1974. Disney has no mandatory retirement age for chief executives; the company’s mandatory retirement age for board members is 74.

Bob Iger Named “2014 CEO of the Year” by Chief Executive Magazine

Bob Iger

Chief Executive magazine today announced that Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, has been named “2014 CEO of the Year,” an honor bestowed upon an outstanding corporate leader, nominated and selected by a group of CEO peers. This is the 29th year the award has been given, with past honorees including Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, Jack Welch, former CEO of GE and Michael Dell, founder, chairman and CEO of Dell Computers.

“Even iconic brands need fixing from time to time,” says JP Donlon, Editor in Chief of Chief Executive magazine. “But instead of the easy fixes, Bob Iger played the long game by addressing Disney’s cultural issues head-on with a three-pronged strategy, making it a stronger, more profitable company with greater depth in its overall brand. For this reason, he is well-deserving of this year’s CEO of the Year honor.”

Just the sixth CEO in the company’s history, Iger, who took over the helm in October 2005, transformed the organization into a profit-making powerhouse. He acquired Pixar Animation Studios from Steve Jobs in 2006 and Marvel Entertainment in 2009. In 2012, Iger negotiated a deal for Lucasfilm, which gave Disney the rights to the Star Wars brand. During Iger’s tenure, Walt Disney’s 2013 shareholder return was 202 percent. In February of this year, the stock price hit an all-time closing high of $79.23, compared to just$23.81 when Iger first took over as CEO.

Nominations for CEO of the Year were garnered from among the readers of Chief Executive magazine. The 10 most frequently cited nominations were evaluated and a winner voted upon at a meeting of a peer Selection Committee, which took place earlier this year inNew York City.

The 2014 CEO of the Year Selection Committee was comprised of: David Cote, Chairman and CEO, Honeywell, and 2013 Chief Executive of the Year; Dan Glaser, President and CEO, Marsh & McLennan; Fred Hassan, chairman, Zx Pharma and partner/managing director, Healthcare at Warburg Pincus; Tamara Lundgren, President and CEO, Schnitzer Steel Industries; Tom Quinlan, President and CEO, RR Donnelley; Christine Jacobs, former chairman and CEO, Theragenics, and director, McKesson; Bob Nardelli, CEO, XLR-8, Bill Nuti, Chairman and CEO, NCR’ Jeff Sonnenfeld, President and CEO, Chief Executive Leadership Institute, Yale School of Management;Mark Weinberger, Chairman and CEO, EY; Maggie Wilderotter, Chairman and CEO, Frontier Communications; and Tom Saporito, Chairman and CEO, RHR International.

“Bob is a visionary and innovator who consistently delivers terrific performance across a diverse portfolio of businesses,” Dan Glasersaid.

“He’s been a disruptive innovator in taking the entertainment industry to another level using new media and new technology,” addedTom Quinlan. “He took a great brand and made it better, which isn’t easy to do.”

Iger’s 2014 CEO of the Year designation will be celebrated at an invitation-only event hosted by NYSE Euronext and the Chief Executive Group at the New York Stock Exchange in July.

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