Apple and Disney: The Pros and Cons

Over the past week, amidst the chaos of world politics, there was a possible business deal being made on the side. The Apple Corporation is in serious talks to purchase The Walt Disney Company, according to Todd Spangler, a Digital Editor for Variety on April 13th. The acquisition of The Disney Company by Apple boasts benefits, including having a competition with streaming giant, Netflix, an integration of Apple technologies into the Disney theme parks worldwide; and, acquiring global streaming sports rights of ESPN and BAMTech (Spangler 2017). This information was gathered by two RBC analysts, Steven Cahall and and Leo Kulp, who stated that Apple is more focused on content and that Disney offers diversification without harming the hardware side that Apple is known for (Spangler 2017). The deal is in talks due to recent bids and acquisitions that did not work out as planned:

“Apple execs met with Time Warner honchos in late 2015 in a discussion that raised the possibility of a merger — before AT&T moved on its $85 billion bid for Time Warner… The Apple-Disney M&A chatter comes as analysts in the last few months have debated the possibility that Disney would make a move to buy Netflix — a highly leveraged transaction that some view as needlessly risky” (Spangler 2017).

Here come the cons to this deal. If Apple decides to acquire Disney, the deal would be worth $237 billion, if Apple shareholders are too wearisome though, Disney could spin off ESPN and theme parks to make the deal sweeter for Apple. Spangler also noted:

“Apple would need U.S. regulators to give it a “tax holiday” to repatriate offshore cash to fund an acquisition of Disney. Assuming Apple could obtain a 9% tax rate, it would effectively have access to cash of $223 billion, RBC noted: ‘Even though investors might expect higher cash returns in form of buybacks/dividends, strategic uses are likely to take precedence’” (Spangler 2017).

To give this even more credibility, according to Business Insider’s Rob Price, Apple (theoretically) has the money for the deal, “[Apple] has about $230 billion stashed overseas and is waiting to repatriate it back to the US” (Price 2017). While the taxes could be high, Apple CEO Tim Cook remains optimistic.

While this deal is speculative, it makes logical sense for the deal to come to light. The reason is due to the history the two companies share. Steve Jobs invested money into Pixar in the early 1990s, and the two giants have always been close and collaborative in terms of business.  We shall have to wait and see if this shows any merit; at least the stocks for both companies are doing well at least.


Work Cited

Price, Rob. “Analysts are speculating about Apple buying Disney: ‘A tech/media juggernaut like no other'” Business Insider. Business Insider, 13 Apr. 2017. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.

Spangler, Todd. “Could Apple Buy Disney? Wall Street Revives Rumor of Mega-Deal.” Variety. N.p., 13 Apr. 2017. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.

 

In the Spirit of Howard Ashman: Bill Condon on “Beauty and the Beast”

Kim Masters interviewed Bill Condon, director of “Dreamgirls” (2006), who also directed the new adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” (2017) on Saturday, March 25th, 2017. Speaking on the film, Bill Condon noted how he wanted to make the remake in the spirit of the original lyricist of the 1991, Howard Ashman, who died before the premiere of the original animated film in March of 1991 due to AIDS:

“Here, you are dealing with something that is not only a classic, but something that is nearly perfect in the form that it’s in… and so that the original animated film was based on musical theater and live action…. [Howard] was this kind of guiding force for us, because he’s the one who came up with the objects who sing and dance, that hadn’t been there before he arrived” (Masters and Condon 2017).

Condon did not wish to make a shot for shot remake of the film, instead, he wanted to make a film that appeared realistic and felt real. The production design consisted of large sets, some of which took five minutes to cross, and the Wardrobe character, which was actually constructed, had pulleys and various traditional mechanisms similar to “Mary Poppins” (1964 Stevenson) (Masters and Condon 2017).

In terms of the “gay moment”, the widely publicized issue that spoke of Disney including a gay moment in the film, this sparked an international issue, with Russia outright banning the film but allowed it to be played to audiences 16 and over. “Malaysia demanded cuts to the film, which would eventually allow an uncensored version to a PG-13 rating. Obviously, this became a distraction from Disney’s point of view, as they had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the film and probably just as soon had avoided any further discussion of the controversy” (Masters and Condon 2017). Condon notes that he certainly did not intend for this to be an issue, and was originally intended to be a surprise. According to Condon, a reporter leaked the information without the full context resulting in the widely publicized news which lead to overreactions: “I feel that it’s a conversation that’s happening outside of the context of people having seen it… It’s turning animation into real life, and you try to get to the human aspects that make people behave the way they do and the story’s been around for three centuries* now and it keeps getting told and it’s about this basic thing of looking beneath the surface, and looking deeper and accepting people for who they are and if you’re going to make that in 2017, you have to been more inclusive…” (Masters and Condon 2017).

*To correct Condon, just for fun, the story of Beauty and the Beast can be dated back to 16th century Italy.

However, the problem that the remake has is that it is essentially a shot for shot remake of the 1991 film. It does Howard Ashman a wonderful service, but it attempts to make something, like the “gay moment” (which was hardly noticeable in the film to begin with) and turns it into nothing spectacular. While the film broke box office records and is a continuation of the new trend that the Disney Company is taking, the film has an interesting production history, even if the film itself is nothing groundbreaking, in terms of technological innovation, like the original was.


Work Cited

Masters, Kim, and Bill Condon. “Bill Condon on the challenges of adapting a ‘tale as old as time'” Audio blog post. The Business. KCRW, 25 Mar. 2017. Web. 25 Mar. 2017.

 

The Walt Disney Company: Wage Fixing and Antitrust Lawsuit

When one thinks of civil lawsuits, the name Walt Disney Company, does not come to mind very often. We do not usually think of The House of Mouse having anything to do with getting their hands dirty with anything. The creators of family friendly films for nearly a century found themselves in a class action lawsuit on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 along with Pixar, DreamWorks, LucasFilms, and ImageMovers (Johnson 2017).

Variety’s Ted Johnson reported on January 31st that “workers have reached a $100 million settlement with The Walt Disney Company, Pixar Animation Studios, LucasFilms, violated antitrust laws which conspired to fix animation wages with non-poaching agreements” (Johnson 2017).

The lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2014, was headed by Robert Nitsch, David Wentworth, and Georgia Cano who claim that the anti-poaching agreements between DreamWorks, Pixar, and The Walt Disney Company, among other organizations, go back to the 1980’s when George Lucas and Ed Catmull agreed to not gain employees from each other (Johnson 2017).

Something went wrong between 2004-2010 though, as animation and visual effects employees at Pixar, LucasFilms, DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc., The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Blue Sky, and Two Pic MC (formerly ImageMovers), seemed to have a swap-employee moment, or “raid” as Johnson says. At the same time, there were complaints with Adobe, Apple, and Google, as well as the aforementioned companies about fixed wages, in other words, employees were given a fixed wage for their work. This issue was taken to court in 2010 and the companies agrees to refrain from such policies for five years (Johnson 2017).

The Walt Disney Company is the last to settle with the hearing scheduled for March 9th in the San Jose District Court (Johnson 2017). This begs the question, how and why did this happen and what can be done to prevent this behavior in the future? I suppose we shall see the result of the case in March.

Work Cited

Johnson, Ted. “Variety.” Animation Workers Reach $100 Million Settlement With Disney in Wage-Fixing Suit. N.p., 31 Jan. 2017. Web. 3 Feb. 2017. <http://variety.com/2017/biz/news/disney-settlement-wage-fixing-anti-poaching-animation-1201975084/&gt;.

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