Walt Disney Company Plans to Eliminate Plastic Straws by Mid-2019

The Walt Disney Company announced today that they are planning on eliminating single-use straws in all of its owned and operated locations by mid-2019.  This will include all of Disney’s theme parks with the exception of Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea.

Disney claims that this elimination amounts to a reduction of more than 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers annually.

Disney appears to be joining the trend that was recently spearheaded by the announcement from Starbucks earlier this month that they would phase out single-use plastic straws from its more than 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020.

In addition to the Walt Disney Company and Starbucks, McDonald’s announced in June that it would scrap plastic straws from restaurant locations in the U.K. and Ireland and replace them with paper straws, starting in September. Vail Resorts, owner of Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe and sister resorts in Colorado, Utah, British Columbia, Vermont and the Midwest, has also banned plastic straws.

“Eliminating plastic straws and other plastic items are meaningful steps in our long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Bob Chapek, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products. “These new global efforts help reduce our environmental footprint, and advance our long-term sustainability goals.”

For guests staying at Disney hotels or traveling on Disney cruise ships, there are additional changes coming.

Over the next several years there will be a transition to refillable in-room amenities, a move that is expected to reduce plastic by 80 percent, the company estimates.  This has been rumored to be going property-wide for a while now after Walt Disney World had previously begun implementing this at some of its resorts earlier.

Disney also said they plan on reducing the number of single-use plastic shopping bags in owned and operated parks and on cruise ships, offering guests the option to purchase reusable bags.

It will be interesting how guests respond to the new straw policy.  I personally don’t care whether I have a straw with my drinks.  I only use the plastic ones Disney provides at sit-down restaurants because they toss it at my glass.  I refuse to use the paper ones because I find that they don’t last a meal and that they disintegrate in my beverage.  While I do use the plastic straws at quick-service restaurants, I’ll adapt and just not use anything.  There are people that I know that cannot drink anything with ice in it without a straw or use a straw with any drink either out of preference or necessity.  How these guests respond is anyone’s guess.  Many people have already mentioned that they’ll bring their own straws, some reusable, some not.

I personally wouldn’t be surprised if at some time in the near future Disney starts selling Disney themed/branded re-usable straws in its parks.

Equally interesting will be the implementation of the “decreased number of single-use plastic shopping bags” in the parks.  I suspect that what’s probably going to happen is purchased items won’t automatically be placed in a bag and that guests will be asked if they want a bag.  At that point they will be offered the “opportunity” to purchase a re-usable bag.  I imagine Disney will still have to use bags for guests that want purchased items transported to the front of the parks to be picked up later or if guests want their items sent back to their resort.

Okay….now it is time for my cynical take on this.

I’m sure some part of the Disney Company is doing this for the sole concern of the environment.  I have no doubt that this is contributing to the decision.  I suspect that the biggest reason for this decision is financial and if there is a PR win that comes with it…so be it.

Look at it this way…

Disney spends a lot of money having someone make straws for all of their restaurants and beverage carts.  They know that with this change people will use fewer straws provided by Disney, even the paper straws.  People will just use less of them.  This means Disney spends less money.

The same in regards to the bags.  Some guests will decide not to use bags or will purchase the re-usable bags.  Again, less money spent on plastic bags.

If in fact Disney decides to offer Disney-themed or branded re-usable straws this is a new found revenue stream.  Also, Disney mentioned that instead of plastic bags they will “offer” re-usable bags.  We all know that this means “sell” don’t we?  Again…a new revenue stream.

So, Disney spends less money, finds new revenue streams and they come off as environmentally friendly.  It’s a win-win-win situation.

 

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After Over a Decade McDonald’s & Disney Partner Up for Disney-Branded Happy Meals

After more than a decade Disney and McDonald’s are back together just in time for the release of ‘Incredibles 2′.  The new partnership will bring Disney-branded Happy Meals back to McDonald’s this summer.

The two companies parted ways when childhood obesity rates were rising and there was widespread concern over calorie-laden children’s meals at fast food restaurants.

Earlier this month McDonald’s announced that it was revamping its Happy Meal menu and would offer selections that were lower in calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar. This meant ditching cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from the kids’ menu.  These items will still be available for purchase, but McDonald’s will not list them on the menu.  The thought being that these items will be less likely to be ordered.

McDonald’s plans to promote “Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet” in November.

Okay…..who besides us used their kids to get the toys….errr…..’collectibles’ for themselves?  Okay…I’m not proud of it, but yeah we did.

When my kids were younger the Disney-themed Happy Meals did their job.  Depending on the toy being offered we often went weekly and sometimes checked with McDonald’s in the area to see if they had a particular toy to complete our sets.

It’s great to see the return of Disney-themed Happy Meals at McDonald’s….not necessarily for the food but for another way to get unique ‘collectibles.’

Unfortunately my kids have now grown up and are too old for Happy Meals…or are they?

What Disney Bought: A Billion-Dollar Breakdown of Assets

Now that the megadeal is done and the smoke has cleared, there’s a price tag that can be put on each asset moving from Fox to Disney. Analyst estimates vary; the numbers below are derived from RBC Capital Markets.

Disney is getting two groups of channels from Fox: FX Networks and National Geographic Channels. FX is the home of critically acclaimed, edgy series from “American Horror Story” to “Fargo”–exactly the kind of content Disney lacks. Nat Geo has just begun to broach that business with scripted fare like “Genius,” but it’s a classic brand that fits perfectly with Disney’s portfolio, and one that is already translating nicely to digital platforms like Snapchat.

That they may represent the priciest assets in the whole deal is less a reflection of their future worth and more a testament to how valuable linear channels have been over the past decade, given the billions of dollars in advertising and affiliate fees they’ve brought to Fox. But Murdoch’s willingness to give them up is proof positive that the pay-TV business is in a state of secular decline, one that will provide plenty of short-term value but limited in the long term. Digital channels like FXX and NatGeo Wild are probably going to be retired eventually.

With ho-hum franchises like “Kingsmen” and “X-Men,” Fox certainly can’t hold a candle to what Disney has accomplished as a movie studio, though there’s still value to be mined with the upcoming “Avatar” sequels and the expected commingling of their assorted superhero characters. The valuation here is probably more based on the greater successes Fox has enjoyed in TV from animation (“The Simpsons”) to comedy (“Modern Family”), where syndication has proved a veritable goldmine. TV production capabilities will be absolutely key to powering Disney’s intent to go head to head with Netflix in the streaming game come 2019.

At first blush, it might seem counterintuitive for Disney to pay so much for what is essentially a satellite-based operation, a business with dim future prospects. But there is so much more to Star than that: It not only provides more international exposure for Disney in a business where it’s under-represented, but India may be the biggest growth market on the globe. Best of all, Star has an OTT platform, HotStar, that already has over 50 million subscribers and rights to must-have sports content in the region like cricket. As Disney mounts a global OTT effort, this could become a very valuable piece of the puzzle.

With ESPN becoming something of an albatross around Disney’s neck these days, doubling down on sports might seem a strange move. But having 22 RSNs across the country that boast deals with some of the greatest franchises — like the home run-happy New York Yankees with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton — could help shore up the faltering economics underpinning ESPN. Incredible affiliate fees will be a great buffer for Disney in the short term while it mounts a risky multi-year effort around OTT that may not provide desired returns for quite some time.

The value here is mostly tied up in Sky, where Fox had been engaged in a torturous, possibly doomed effort to snap up the 61% portion of the satcaster it doesn’t own. Handing that over to Disney could help ease the regulatory path to getting a deal done; the combination of Sky and STAR will give Disney an incredible international footprint across two continents.

The rest of these investments are tied up in Endemol, a production hub that could also help TV production efforts, and Hulu, where Disney will take a controlling interest. Hulu could become a valuable contributor to Disney’s overall OTT efforts given the head start the joint venture has in this space.

Total Enterprise Value of What Disney Is Buying From Fox: $66.1 billion

Fox Debt Disney Will Assume: $13.7 billion

Sale Price $52.4 Billion

From Variety

Disney Buying Most of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 Billion

Disney is buying a huge chunk of 21st Century Fox in a deal that promises to reshape the media industry and help the entertainment giant fend off digital rivals such as Netflix.

The $52.4 billion deal will combine two of the biggest players in Hollywood.

The sale represents a remarkable turn in the career of octogenarian mogul Rupert Murdoch, who is cashing out after building a major media empire. For its part, Disney is adding even more prime entertainment assets to an already swollen portfolio as it battles upstart streaming services that have undercut the traditional cable subscription model.

In addition to 21st Century Fox’s movie studio and regional sports networks, Disney is buying cable channels FX and National Geographic. Disney will also get Fox’s stakes in Hulu and European pay-TV provider Sky.

Prior to the deal closing, 21st Century Fox will separate the Fox broadcasting network, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and some national sports networks into a new company that will be spun off to its shareholders. The remaining properties would ideally in the coming years merge with News Corp., from which they split in 2013, Murdoch said on Fox Business Thursday morning.

Disney, which counts ESPN among its crown jewels, has suffered as consumers switch off their TVs and spend more hours watching streaming services such as Netflix that are distributed directly to consumers.

The deal allows Disney to expand its content, especially for streaming services. In addition to a majority stake in Hulu that it will have once the deal closes, Disney is preparing to launch two separate streaming services, one for sports and another focusing on entertainment. And it is pulling its content from Netflix in preparation for the launch. Adding Fox’s television and movie studios and the content they own means adding to the stable of must-watch content it can offer directly to consumers — and that streaming competitors can not.

There are also important international assets involved. Fox is in the midst of a lengthy regulatory review in the United Kingdom to take over the rest of the satellite broadcaster Sky it does not already own. In the announcement, Disney and Fox said “21st Century Fox remains fully committed to completing the current Sky offer and anticipates that, subject to the necessary regulatory consents, the transaction will close by June 30, 2018.” Disney would then assume full ownership of Sky as long as Fox’s transaction is completed before Disney’s.

If the deal doesn’t close, then Disney will retain Fox’s current 39 percent stake of Sky “and we imagine they’ll make their own bid for the rest of it,” Murdoch said on Fox Business on Thursday.

The deal will needs to undergo regulatory review and will likely take at least a year to close. The Justice Department, which last month sued to block AT&T’s purchase of CNN parent company Time Warner, will consider to what extent the new company could dominate the market, using its increased leverage to force cable companies and distributors to pay higher rates to carry Disney and Fox content.

News of a possible deal first came to light in early November when CNBC reported that Disney had approached 21 Century Fox about a deal to acquire the movie and television assets. That led to other companies, like Comcast, to explore an acquisition as well. But on Monday Comcast said in statements to media outlets that it “never got the level of engagement needed to make a definitive offer” and was withdrawing from the discussions.

As the two companies work to complete the deal and Disney works to integrate its new assets, Bob Iger, who had been expected to retire, will remain as chairman and CEO of Disney through 2021.

Speaking on Fox Business Thursday morning, Murdoch said he made it a condition of the deal that Iger would stay on.

“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” Iger said in a statement. “We’re honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building.”

There had been some reporting that Murdoch’s son James, currently CEO of 21st Century Fox, would move over to Disney in a high level role and as a possible successor to Iger. But in a conference call with investors on Thursday morning, Iger said there are no immediate plans for James Murdoch.

“James and I have had a lot of conversations about the future of these companies,” Iger said. “He will be integral to helping us integrate these companies over the next number of months and during that period of time we will continue to discuss whether there is a role for him here or not.”

In a statement of his own, Murdoch said, “I’m convinced that this combination, under Bob Iger’s leadership, will be one of the greatest companies in the world. I’m grateful and encouraged that Bob has agreed to stay on, and is committed to succeeding with a combined team that is second to none.”

From CNN Money

21st Century Fox Holding Talks to Sell Most of the Company to Disney According to Sources


21st Century Fox has been holding talks to sell most of the company to Walt Disney Co., leaving behind a media company tightly focused on news and sports, according to people familiar with the situation.

The talks have taken place over the last few weeks and there is no certainty they will lead to a deal. The two sides are not currently talking at this very moment, but given the on again, off again nature of the talks, they could be revisited.

For Fox, the willingness to engage in sale talks with Disney stems from a growing belief among its senior management that scale in media is of immediate importance and there is not a path to gain that scale in entertainment through acquisition. The company is said to believe that a more tightly focused group of properties around news and sports could compete more effectively in the current marketplace.

The media landscape has changed considerably in recent years with giants such as Facebook, Google (Alphabet), Amazon and Netflix changing the way people consume media and dominating the digital distribution of digital video content. Being able to compete in that changing landscape, many people believe, requires scale that a Disney has, but 21st Century Fox does not.

For Disney, the opportunity to take control of another movie studio and significant TV production assets as it readies a direct-to-consumer entertainment streaming offering is attractive as is Fox’s significant exposure to international markets, such as the U.K., Germany and Italy — both through its networks and 39 percent ownership of Sky. Disney recently announced it will pull all of its movies from the Netflix platform and will establish two direct-to-consumer offerings: one for sports and one including its key franchises such as “Star Wars” and Marvel.

Disney would not purchase all of Fox, according to people with knowledge of the talks.

From CNBC

Disney Legend Francis Xavier “X” Atencio Passes Away at Age 98

Disney Legend Xavier “X” Atencio, a former Imagineer and Disney animator, passed away on September 10 at the age of 98. X was responsible for helping bring to life a number of beloved Disney parks attractions including Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, as well as such animated classics as Pinocchio and Fantasia.

Born on September 4, 1919, in Walsenburg, Colorado, X—whose friends shortened his name from Francis Xavier to simply “X”—moved to Los Angeles in 1937 to attend the Chouinard Art Institute. X thought a job at Disney was out of his reach, but the then-18-year-old artist’s instructors prodded him to submit his portfolio. In 1938, when he got the good news from Disney, X ran from the original Hyperion Avenue studio to his aunt’s house shouting, “I got a job at Disney! I got a job at Disney!”

X first saw his work on screen at the 1940 premiere of Pinocchio, and as he watched, he was incredibly moved by seeing the audience’s reaction. That year, he was promoted to assistant animator for Fantasia but left temporarily to join the Army Air Corps in the war effort.

Upon his return in 1945, he picked up where he left off, returning to the studio and working for the next eight years on animated short subjects. His first on-screen credit was for Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom in 1953, an Oscar®-winning film that took audiences through the history of music. Other films X contributed to during this time included Noahs Ark (1959) and A Symposium on Popular Songs (1962), both Academy Award® nominees, as well as Jack and Old Mac (1956). He worked on the “I’m No Fool” series for the original MickeyMouse Club, and in the 1960s, X provided memorable stop-motion sequences for Disney feature films TheParent Trap (1961), Babes in Toyland (1961), and Mary Poppins (1964).

At the request of Walt Disney, X transferred to WED Enterprises (later Walt Disney Imagineering) in 1965 to work on the Primeval World diorama for Disneyland. At first, X was unsure of the move to WED: “I went over there reluctantly because I didn’t know what I was getting into, and nobody there knew what I was supposed to do either,” he recalled. “About a month later I got a phone call from Walt. He told me ‘I want you to do the script for the Pirates of the Caribbean.’” From that point on, X cemented his legacy at WED, playing a key role in the development of music and dialogue for the attraction, including co-writing the iconic song, “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me).” For the Haunted Mansion, he wrote the attraction’s dialogue and co-wrote the song “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” For Walt Disney World, he contributed to If You Had Wings and Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom, as well as Spaceship Earth, World of Motion, and the Mexico pavilion at Epcot. Throughout his career, X always said that his reward, as it was in the days of Pinocchio, “is still the audience’s reactions.”

“X was an enormous talent who helped define so many of our best experiences around the world,” said Bob Weis, president of Walt Disney Imagineering. “Some may not know that when he wrote the lyrics for ‘Yo Ho’ he had never actually written a song before. He simply proposed the idea of a tune for Pirates of the Caribbean, and Walt told him to go and do it. That was how X worked—with an enthusiastic, collaborative attitude, along with a great sense of humor. His brilliant work continues to inspire Imagineers and bring joy to millions of guests every year.”

X retired from Disney in 1984, but continued working as a consultant to Walt Disney Imagineering for many years, and was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1996. He is survived by his wife, Maureen; his children Tori McCullough, Judianne, and Joe; his stepchildren Brian Sheedy, Kevin Sheedy, and Eileen Haubeil; sons-in-law Mike McCullough and Chris Haubeil; daughters-in-law Kathy Atencio, Trish Sheedy, and Beth Sheedy; and eight grandchildren.

From D23

Bill Nye Sues Disney for $9 Million for Unpaid Profits

The famed science enthusiast filed suit against Disney on Thursday, claiming the media giant hoodwinked him out of more than $9 million in earnings from “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

The beloved television series originally aired between 1992 and 1997, gaining a loyal following among children while winning multiple broadcasting awards for its fun, science-focused programming. It’s still streamed on services like Netflix.

Two decades after production wrapped up, Nye has accused Disney of fraud and breach of contract in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Disney subsidiaries including Buena Vista Television and ABC are also named as defendants.

Disney and the other defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit claims that Nye, who was owed 16.5% of the show’s profits, became suspicious after Disney-owned Buena Vista demanded he repay a large portion of his 2007 “Science Guy” earnings, citing an “accounting error.”

Nye doubted the company’s bookkeeping. But his efforts to engage the firm in negotiations to resolve the matter were “futile,” according to the lawsuit. Nye claims that Buena Vista stopped making royalty payments in 2008 because of the dispute.

The suit says that Nye eventually hired an auditor to review the company’s records, but the inquiry was delayed for years and the defendants allegedly did not provide all the requested documentation.

The “defendants failed to engage in the process in good faith,” says the suit, which accuses the companies of engaging in “an ongoing, deliberate conspiracy to deceive Mr. Nye.”

According to the complaint, the limited documentation provided to auditors showed revenues were skewed and royalties went unreported.

Nye claims that he has suffered damages of at least $9.4 million, while the defendants enriched themselves with “ill-gotten” profits of over $28 million.

Netflix Discussing Keeping Disney’s Marvel, ‘Star Wars’ Films

Netflix Inc is in “active discussions” with Walt Disney Co about keeping Marvel and “Star Wars” films after 2019, when new Disney and Pixar movies will stop appearing on the streaming service, a senior executive said late on Thursday.

Disney announced on Tuesday that it was pulling new Disney and Pixar films from Netflix, starting with new releases in 2019. It will start putting the movies on a new Disney-branded online service that year.

Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger told analysts the company had not yet decided where it would distribute superhero films from Marvel Studios and movies from “Star Wars” producer Lucasfilm, which the company owns, at that time.

Netflix is still in discussions with Disney about retaining rights to stream Marvel and Lucasfilm releases after 2019, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told Reuters.

A Disney spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Iger said on Tuesday that the Marvel and Lucasfilm movies could go to Netflix or another streaming service after 2019, or Disney might retain the rights for itself.

Sarandos said he expected Disney’s service to be “complementary” to Netflix, which carries other family-friendly programing such as animated movies from “Despicable Me” creator Illumination Entertainment and “Shrek” producer Dreamworks Animation.

Disney’s plan to stream its content directly to consumers is “a natural evolution” for traditional media companies that Netflix expected, Sarandos said in an interview at an event to celebrate Emmy nominations for his company’s drama, “The Crown.”

“That’s why we got into the originals business five years ago, anticipating it may be not as easy a conversation with studios and networks” to license their content, he added.

Disney’s break from Netflix applies only to its film deal in the United States, where the streaming service runs new Disney movies shortly after they leave theaters.

Disney Extends CEO Bob Iger’s Contract to 2019

The Walt Disney Co. said Thursday that Bob Iger is extending his tenure as CEO again.

Set to retire from the entertainment giant in June 2018, Iger has now re-upped his contract until July 2, 2019 amid concerns among industry observers that there is no heir apparent within the company’s executive ranks.

“Leading this great company is a tremendous privilege, and I am honored to have been asked to continue serving as CEO through July 2, 2019,” Mr. Iger said in a statement. “Even with the incredible success the company has achieved, I am confident that Disney’s best days are still ahead, and I look forward to continuing to build on our proven strategy for growth while working with the Board to identify a successor as CEO and ensure a successful transition.”

The terms of his employment agreement “remain unchanged,” except for certain provisions, Disney said in a regulatory filing. His annual compensation for the extended employment period “will be determined on the same basis as his annual compensation for fiscal 2016.”

If Iger remains until July 2, 2019, he will receive a cash bonus of $5 million “in addition to an award for fiscal 2019 under the company’s management incentive bonus program,” it said. “Following the termination of his employment at the expiration date, to enable the company to have access to Mr. Iger’s unique skills, knowledge and experience with regard to the media and entertainment business, Mr. Iger will serve as a consultant to the company for a period of three years.”

He will the provide “assistance, up to certain specified monthly and annual maximum time commitments, on such matters as his successor as chief executive officer may request from time to time.”

For his consulting services, Iger will receive a quarterly fee of $500,000 for each of the first eight quarters and $250,000 for each of the last four quarters of the consulting period. “For the three years following termination of employment, the company will also provide Mr. Iger with the same security services (other than the personal use of a company provided aircraft) as it has made available to him as chief executive officer,” the filing said.

Former Disney COO Tom Staggs was considered Iger’s likely successor until his abrupt departure last spring. At the time of Staggs’ exit, the Disney board vowed to “broaden the scope of its succession-planning process to identify and evaluate a robust slate of candidates.” It has since been mum about its succession planning. At the time, industry observers mentioned Facebook COO and Disney board member Sheryl Sandberg as a possible candidate.

Disney’s stock as of 11:10 a.m. ET was up 0.7 percent at $112.88, near its 52-week high of $113.16.

“Given Bob Iger’s outstanding leadership, his record of success in a changing media landscape, and his clear strategic vision for Disney’s future, it is obvious that the Company and its shareholders will be best served by his continued leadership as the Board conducts the robust process of identifying a successor and ensuring a smooth transition,” said Orin C. Smith, independent lead director of the Disney Board.

Otherwise, experts cited industry executives who all seemed happy in their respective jobs, such as NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. Under the leadership of Iger, who turned 66 on Feb. 10, Disney has done well. The company has said that total shareholder return during his tenure has been nearly twice that of other entertainment conglomerates.

Iger’s latest extension marks a change of mind for the executive. He originally planned to step down as Disney CEO in 2015 after running the company for a decade. But he extended and then did so again a year later.

Back then, he said about his plans to depart in mid-2018, “I really mean it.” Succession at Disney seems a perpetually thorny going back decades when Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Ovitz each jockeyed to take over from Michael Eisner. When Eisner finally stepped down in 2005 it was under such strenuous conditions that even Roy E. Disney, the founder’s nephew, was publicly attacking him.

From The Hollywood Reporter