Jobs and Iger comment on Disney\'s acquisition of Pixar
Following Disney's announcement that it will acquire Pixar in an all-stock transaction worth $7.4B, both Pixar CEO Steve Jobs and Disney CEO Bob Iger partook in a brief interview on CNBC before arriving fashionably late to their conference call with analysts and the media.
Some notes of interest from both sessions are provided below:
Bob Iger was the first person Steve Jobs called when Apple decided it was going to market with a video-capable iPod. Jobs would not comment on any new products or potential partnerships with Disney, but said: "It's gonna be a pretty exciting next five years."
"I fully hope that the relationships between the companies will continue because its been so good," Iger said of Disney's recent collaboration with Apple and its iTunes distribution service.
Jobs and Iger began talking almost immediately after Iger was appointed the new CEO of Disney, but their initial chats were not over a buyout. "Steve and I talked most about the relationship the companies have had," said Iger, refusing to go into any further detail. "How we got here isn't that material."
Jobs said that Pixar has bought into Bob Iger's vision of Disney, and not Disney taking up Pixar's (or Apple's) visions. The big story "is Pixar buying into Bob Iger's vision of where Disney is going," said Jobs. "He understands the importance of animation. We are really buying into Bob's vision, and not the other way around."
Even with the buyout, Disney films produced by Pixar's animation studios and staff will continued to be marketed under the dual "Disney Pixar" brand. "It would be foolish to throw any of [the successful brand] away," the company said.
"I think Steve will be a big voice in many respects, and I think that's a good thing," Iger said of Jobs' new roll at Disney.
Beyond anything else, Disney's primary focus is on the importance of great content. "Nothing has created as much value as great animation," Iger said.
Iger feels more optimistic about the future of Disney now with Pixar onboard.
"As we approach the end of our relationship with Disney and looked at our future... we saw a fork in the road," said Jobs. On one side, he said Pixar could have formed a Lucas Films-like distribution deal with the entertainment conglomerate. The alternative — and ultimately path Pixar chose — was to join Disney. "We came to conclusion that this is the most exciting path for Pixar's future," Jobs said.
Disney plans to focus on taking Pixar's "great intellectual property" and leveraging it across Disney's theme parks, products, and services. Specifically, this means integrating Pixar's characters and creations into Disney's theme parks and merchandizing.
Asked whether it can capitalize on emerging distribution opportunities — such as Apple's iTunes and iPod — Disney executives were hesitant to comment, saying the goal, above all else, is to make great animation films. "The rest takes care of itself," the company said. However, Disney conceded that it is open to whatever technology or means will get its products to people "on a well-timed, well-priced basis."
"You may watch your favorite live action film three, four, or five times in your life," said Jobs. "But for a great animation film, your kids may watch it a dozen or a hundred times." He believes the opportunity to view these movies on other devices will eventually play an important roll and expects strong demand from family members to watch certain films from many places on many devices.
Jobs said Pixar has been holding back from announcing its next slate of feature animation films and is now is discussing when to make the official announcements. "Nothing has been decided yet," he said.
On the topic of sequels, where Pixar and Disney have at times had opposing views, Disney said it's important that any sequel be worked on by some creative personnel that took part in the creation of the original film. "We see sequels as first class citizes, not second," added Jobs. "They can be just as great or better than the original."
While there will always be risks associated with large acquisitions, Iger said Pixar's unrivaled track-record speaks for itself. As long as Disney can protect Pixar's track-record, the combined company will do fine, he said.
Iger recently saw Pixar next feature animated film titled "Cars," and said it is one of the best films he'd ever seen "I can't wait for the rest of the world to see it," he said. Disney and Pixar plan an exclusive preview of the film in Detroit before the SuperBowl next month. The movie is set to open in theaters this June.