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Tag Archives: Walt Disney Company

February 1

February 1, 1989 – Hollywood Pictures Begins Operations

On February 1, 1989, the Walt Disney Company film division Hollywood Pictures officially began operations. Similar to the Touchstone Pictures label, it was designed to release Disney’s “darker” fare, such as its first release in 1990, Arachnophobia. The studio was originally run by Ricardo Mestres, moving from Touchstone Pictures to run the fledgling studio; he was succeeded by Michael Lynton in 1994. Although the studio had some successes, especially with the works of M. Night Shyamalan, the studio was eventually closed in 2007, as Disney wanted to focus on the internal brand names of the company.

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January 23

January 23, 2006 – Disney Honors Michael Eisner Through Building Renaming Ceremony

“I am grateful for this wonderful honor, especially because this building encapsulates so much that is fantastic about Disney and about the two decades I got to spend here.”

On January 23, 2006, several Disney employees, alongside Disney Board Senator George Mitchell, the Board of Directors, and Disney CEO Bob Iger were on hand to honor former CEO Michael Eisner at a dedication ceremony, renaming the Team Disney building as The Michael D. Eisner Building. The building has served as the company’s corporate headquarters since 1990, and was designed by architect Michael Graves; it was notable for featuring pillars in the shape of the Seven Dwarfs. Disney had been in a state of turmoil when Eisner joined the company and, through his work with Frank Wells, the pair managed to return Disney to its creative, innovative state. The board was unanimous in awarding Eisner this honor for his 21 years of service.

January 21

January 21, 1988 – Disney Acquires The Wrather Corporation

“Disney has great capabilities and will take our properties onto greater heights.” – Bonita Granville Wrather

On January 21, 1988, Disney finished the $152.3 million dollar acquisition process of the Wrather Corporation, which included the acquisition of the Disneyland Hotel. The relationship between The Walt Disney Company and The Wrather Corporation began back in 1955; Walt had realized the need for a hotel near the new theme park, but did not have the funds to create it, and convinced his friend Jack Wrather to build a hotel across the street. The hotel continued to grow through the years, eventually having three towers (originally named the Bonita, Marina, and Sierra). Throughout the years, Disney attempted to purchase the hotel, as it was seen as awkward that Disney did not own something with its name attached. When the deal was finalized in 1988, Disney not only acquired the hotel, but acres of land for potential expansion, and the lease to operate the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California

January 13

January 13, 1927 – President of Walt Disney Creations S.p.A and Disney Legend Antonio Bertini is Born

“There is always a market. There is never a problem when you give a good product at the right price. And Disney is a very good product.”

On January 13, 1927, Antonio Bertini was born in Milan, Italy. He attended the University of Pavia, and while there he explored market research, a concept that was unfamiliar in Italy at the time, and eventually graduated with a Ph.D. in political science in 1955. Soon after, he joined the Lever Brothers company in Milan as a planning officer, putting his skills to use as he coordinated the operating, marketing, and publicity of the company’s four Italian factories. He joined Walt Disney Productions in 1960, after answering an anonymous ad in a newspaper, as the assistance to Major John William Holmes, the Italian sales representative. Bertini had almost immediate success; he was able to negotiate several new contracts with Italian licensees to create Disney-themed projects, ranging from toys to housewares, and was subsequently promoted to sales manager a year later. At the same time, Bertini was also asked to join the Board of Directors, and after another stellar year, Roy O. Disney personally named Bertini the president of Walt Disney Creations S.p.A. Bertini continued to expand Disney influence in Italy through the 1960s and 1970s, creating educational films for the country and creating over a $1 million in revenue; this success helped lead the way for Disney’s eventual success in the home video market through the 1980s. Bertini was also instrumental in creating a booming publishing division in Italy for the Disney books, comics, and magazines, rather than licensing out the characters to other publishers. After 30 years with the company, Bertini retired from Disney in 1990; he was honored as a Disney Legend in the category of Disney Consumer Products in 1997.

January 12

January 12, 1999 – The GO Network is Launched

On January 12, 1999, the internet portal site GO Network was launched in a joint production between Disney and Infoseek. The GO Network offered a variety of services, including chat rooms, search engines, email, and a news service. In November of that year, Disney presented a deal to, and was approved by, stakeholders to spinoff the Go Network with GO.com, and purchased Infoseek (which would merge with the Buena Vista Internet Group. On November 18, the first shares of GO.com began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2001, Disney announced that GO.com would be closing, including all the offshoot directories and the stock tracker.

December 27

December 27, 1996 – Michael Ovitz Leaves The Walt Disney Company

“You played the angles too much, exaggerated the truth too far, manipulated me and others too much.” – Michael Eisner, in a November 1996 letter

On December 27, 1996, Michael Ovitz stepped down as the President of the Walt Disney Company. He joined the company in 1995, acting as president under Michael Eisner. The year that Ovitz served as president was considered turbulent at best, and was swiftly let go by Eisner. There were further complications afterwards, as Ovitz was awarded a hefty severance package of $130 million. Disney shareholders eventually sued Ovitz and Eisner for this package; although the court upheld the payment, the court case, and the decisions that led to it, hurt Eisner’s position within the company.

December 8

December 8, 2006 – MarketWatch Names Bob Iger as CEO of the Year

“This is a well-deserved honor for Bob, and indicative of the passion and perseverance he brings to all of him endeavors.” – Peggy Williams, President of Ithica College

On December 8, 2006, MarketWatch released a statement naming Walt Disney Company President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Iger as CEO of the Year. Iger was named thanks to his contributions to the innovation of the entertainment industry; MarketWatch looks at the track record of CEOs in terms of stock price, performance for customers, treatment of employees, and corporate-governance initiatives. One of the major initiatives that led to this honor for Iger was the careful negotiations for Disney to buy Pixar for $7 billion, extending an olive branch to the company that had suffered a fractured relationship with Disney for quite some time.