The Walt Disney Company, more commonly known as Disney, is a global media and entertainment conglomerate headquartered in Burbank, California. The company adopted on its current name on February 6, 1986 following a massive restructuring of its predecessor, Walt Disney Productions.
The company is best known for the products of its film studio, the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, and today one of the largest and best-known studios in Hollywood. Disney also owns and operates the ABC broadcast television network; cable television networks such as Disney Channel, ESPN, A&E Television Networks, and Freeform; publishing, merchandising, and theatre divisions; and owns and licenses 14 theme parks around the world. The company has been a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average since May 6, 1991. Mickey Mouse is the official mascot of The Walt Disney Company.
The common metonym of the company called the "House of Mouse" (also known as the "Mouse House" or simply the "Mouse"), referring to the company's mascot Mickey Mouse, along with a TV show and the titular nightclub of the same name.
- To find events of Disney’s entertainment conglomerates and feature animation studio before the 1980s restructuring, see Walt Disney Productions.
1984–2004: Restructuring Walt Disney Productions
Since the death of Walt Disney in 1966 and his older brother, Roy in 1971, Walt Disney Productions had narrowly survived takeover attempts by corporate raiders. Its shareholders Sid Bass and Roy E. Disney brought on Eisner and former Warner Brothers chief Frank Wells to replace Ron W. Miller in 1984 and strengthen the company. One of the bigger decisions made in this time period was splitting Walt Disney Productions into The Walt Disney Company and Walt Disney Feature Animation.
During the second half of the 1980s and early 1990s, Disney revitalized. Beginning with Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), and later, The Little Mermaid (1989), its flagship animation studio enjoyed a series of commercial and critical successes. In addition, the company successfully entered the field of television animation with a number of lavishly budgeted and acclaimed series such as Adventures of the Gummi Bears, DuckTales, and Gargoyles. Disney also broadened its adult offerings in film when then Disney Studio Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg acquired Miramax Films and its subsidiary Dimension Films in 1993. Disney acquired many other media sources during the decade, including a merger with Capital Cities/ABC in 1996 which brought broadcast network ABC and its assets, including a majority stake in the ESPN networks, a minorty stake in the A+E Networks, a 50% stake in Lifetime Entertainment Services and the limited partnership-ran animation studio DIC Entertainment in the Disney fold.
During the early part of the 1990s, Eisner and his partners set out to plan "The Disney Decade" which was to feature new parks around the world, existing park expansions, new films, and new media investments. While some of the proposals did follow through, most did not. These included the Euro Disney Resort (now Disneyland Paris), Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios), Disney California Adventure Park, Disney-MGM Studios Paris (eventually opened in 2002 as Walt Disney Studios Park), and various film projects including a Who Framed Roger Rabbit franchise.
Wells died in a helicopter crash in 1994 (The Lion King, which went on to become the most successful hand-drawn animated picture of all time, was dedicated to his memory). Shortly thereafter, Katzenberg resigned and formed DreamWorks Pictures and DreamWorks Animation with partners Steven Spielberg and David Geffen because Eisner would not appoint Katzenberg to Wells' now-available post. Instead, Eisner recruited his friend Michael Ovitz, one of the founders of the Creative Artists Agency, to be President, with minimal involvement from Disney's board of directors (which at the time included Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier, the CEO of Hilton Hotels Corporation Stephen Bollenbach, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, Yale dean Robert A. M. Stern, and Eisner's predecessors Raymond Watson and Cardon Walker). Ovitz lasted only 14 months and left Disney in December 1996 via a "no fault termination" with a severance package of $38 million in cash and 3 million stock options worth roughly $100 million at the time of Ovitz's departure. The Ovitz episode engendered a long-running derivative suit, which finally concluded in June 2006, almost 10 years later. Chancellor William B. Chandler, III of the Delaware Court of Chancery, despite describing Eisner's behavior as falling "far short of what shareholders expect and demand from those entrusted with a fiduciary position..." found in favor of Eisner and the rest of the Disney board because they hadn't violated the letter of the law (namely, the duty of care owed by a corporation's officers and board to its shareholders).
"Save Disney" campaign and Eisner's ouster
In 2003, Roy E. Disney, the son of Disney co-founder Roy O. Disney and nephew of Walt Disney, resigned from his positions as the company's vice chairman and chairman of Walt Disney Feature Animation, accusing Eisner of micromanagement, flops with the ABC television network, timidity in the theme park business, turning the Walt Disney Company into a "rapacious, soul-less" company, and refusing to establish a clear succession plan, as well as a string of box-office movie failures since the end of the Renaissance era in 2000.
On March 3, 2004, at Disney's annual shareholders' meeting, a surprising and unprecedented 43% of Disney's shareholders, predominantly rallied by former board members Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, withheld their proxies to re-elect Eisner to the board. Disney's board then gave the chairmanship position to Mitchell. However, the board did not immediately remove Eisner as chief executive.
On March 13, 2005, Eisner announced that he would step down as CEO one year before his contract expired. On September 30, Eisner resigned both as an executive and as a member of the board of directors, and, severing all formal ties with the company, he waived his contractual rights to perks such as the use of a corporate jet and an office at the company's Burbank headquarters. Eisner's replacement was his longtime assistant, Bob Iger.
2005–2020: The Iger Era
On July 8, 2005, Walt Disney's nephew Roy E. Disney returned to the Walt Disney Company as a consultant and with the new title of Non Voting Director, Emeritus. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland Park on July 17, and opened Hong Kong Disneyland on September 12. Walt Disney Feature Animation released Chicken Little, the company's first film using 3-D animation. On October 1, Robert Iger replaced Michael Eisner as CEO. Miramax co-founders Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein also departed the company to form their own studio. On July 25, 2005, Disney announced that it was closing DisneyToon Studios Australia in October 2006, after 17 years of existence.
Disney acquired Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a character Walt created for Universal Pictures, from NBCUniversal in February 2006. It was done through a trade that sent sportscaster Al Michaels from Disney’s ABC and ESPN to NBC’s NBC Sports. The deal included the rights to the character and the Oswald cartoons animated by the Walt Disney Studio that did not enter the public domain.
Aware that Disney's relationship with Pixar was wearing thin, President and CEO Bob Iger began negotiations with leadership of Pixar Animation Studios, Steve Jobs and Ed Catmull, regarding possible merger. On January 23, 2006, it was announced that Disney would purchase Pixar in an all-stock transaction worth $7.4 billion. The deal was finalized on May 5; and among noteworthy results was the transition of Pixar's CEO and 50.1% shareholder, Steve Jobs, becoming Disney's largest individual shareholder at 7% and a member of Disney's Board of Directors. Ed Catmull took over as President of Pixar Animation Studios. Former Executive Vice-President of Pixar, John Lasseter, became Chief Creative Officer of both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, as well assuming the role of Principal Creative Adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering.
After a long time working in the company as a senior executive and large shareholder, Director Emeritus Roy E. Disney died from stomach cancer on December 16, 2009. At the time of his death, he had roughly 1% of all Disney shares which amounted to 16 million. He is seen to be the last member of the Disney family to be actively involved in the running of the company and working in the company altogether.
On December 31, 2009, Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment, Inc. for $4.24 billion. Disney has stated that their acquisition of the company will not affect Marvel's products, neither will the nature of any Marvel characters be transformed.
In October 2009, Disney Channel president Rich Ross, hired by Iger, replaced Dick Cook as chairman of the company and, in November, began restructuring the company to focus more on family-friendly products. Later in January 2010, Disney decided to shut down Miramax after downsizing Touchstone, but one month later, they began selling the Miramax brand and its 700-title film library. On March 12, ImageMovers Digital, Robert Zemeckis's company which Disney had bought in 2007, was shut down. In April 2010, Lyric Street, Disney's country music label in Nashville, was shut down. In May 2010, the company sold the Power Rangers brand, as well as its 700-episode library, back to Haim Saban. In June, the company canceled Jerry Bruckheimer's film project Killing Rommel. In September 2010, Disney Interactive Studios was downsized. In November, two ABC stations were sold.
With the release of Tangled in 2010, Ed Catmull said that the "princess" genre of films was taking a hiatus until "someone has a fresh take on it … but we don't have any other musicals or fairy tales lined up." He explained that they were looking to get away from the princess era due to the changes in audience composition and preference. However, in the official Facebook page for Disney, Ed Catmull stated that this was just a rumor.
In April 2011, Disney broke ground on Shanghai Disney Resort. Costing $4.4 billion, the resort is slated to open in 2015. Later, in August 2011, Bob Iger stated on a conference call that after the success of the Pixar and Marvel purchases, he and the Walt Disney Company are looking to "buy either new characters or businesses that are capable of creating great characters and great stories."
On October 30, 2012, Disney announced plans to acquire Lucasfilm and release Star Wars Episode VII in 2015. On December 4, 2012, the Disney-Lucasfilm merger was approved by the Federal Trade Commission, allowing the acquisition to be finalized without dealing with antitrust problems. On December 21, 2012, the deal was completed with the acquisition value amounting to approximately $4.06 billion, and thus Lucasfilm became a wholly owned subsidiary of Disney.
On May 29, 2013, Disney set release dates for eight currently untitled animated films through 2018, including four from Disney Animation and four from Pixar Animation.
In March 2018, the Walt Disney Company developed together with Samsung Mickey and Minnie Mouse Emojis.
Acquisition of 21st Century Fox
On May 7, 2018, shares of Fox rose 5.1% when a report was released that Comcast was in talks with investment banks and firms in order to obtain bridge-financing for an all-cash bid, reportedly worth $60 billion, that threatened the Disney-Fox deal.
On May 29, it was reported that Disney was looking into making its own all-cash counter-offer for Fox assets in the event that Comcast went through with their offer. The next day, Disney and Fox announced that they have set their shareholder vote meetings for July 10, though both companies have stated that Fox's meeting could be postponed if Comcast came through with their offer.
On June 12, AT&T was given approval by District Judge Richard J. Leon to acquire Time Warner, easing concerns Comcast had regarding whether government regulators would block their bid for Fox. Consequently, the next day, Comcast mounted a bid of $65 billion for the 21st Century Fox assets that were set to be acquired by Disney.
On June 18, it was reported that Disney will add to its already existing $52 billion claim to contest Comcast's proposed counteroffer for the Fox assets.
On June 20, Disney and Fox announced that they had amended their previous merger agreement, upping Disney’s offer to $71.3 billion (a 10% premium over Comcast's $65 billion offer), while also offering shareholders the option of receiving cash instead of stock.
On June 21, Murdoch said in response to Disney's higher offer: "We are extremely proud of the businesses we have built at 21st Century Fox, and firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace at a dynamic time for our industry." That still does not prevent other companies from making a bid, as the deal needed to be voted on by shareholders. Iger explained the reasoning behind the bid: "Direct-to-consumer distribution has actually become an even more compelling proposition in the six months since we announced the deal. There has just been not only a tremendous amount of development in that space, but clearly the consumer is voting—loudly."
On July 9, a Fox shareholder filed a lawsuit to stop the acquisition from Disney citing the absence of financial projections for Hulu. On the same day, CNBC reported that Comcast was looking for companies that could take over Fox's Regional Sports Networks. This would make easier Comcast's legislative problems regarding the takeover of Fox assets, preparing to make a new all cash counter-offer before July 27, 2018.
On July 12, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a notice of appeal with the D.C. Circuit to reverse the District Court's approval for AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner (now WarnerMedia). Although analysts say that the chances of a DOJ win are small, they say it is the "final nail in the coffin for Comcast's Fox chase. This is a clear gift to Disney." On the next day, CEO of AT&T Randall Stephenson gave an interview with CNBC, about Comcast's bid for Fox: "It probably can't help it. You're in a situation where two entities are bidding for an asset, and this kind of action can obviously influence the outcome of those actions."
On July 13, Disney received the support of the Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, the two most prominent proxy adviser firms in the world. Fox shareholders were recommended by the advisers as means to provide for Disney's future.
On July 16, CNBC reported that Comcast is unlikely to continue its bidding war to acquire Fox from Disney in favor of Sky.
On July 19, Comcast officially announced that it was dropping its bid on the Fox assets in order to focus on their bid for Sky. The CEO of Comcast, Brian L. Roberts, said "I'd like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company."
On July 27, Disney and Fox shareholders approved Disney's purchase of Fox's entertainment assets. The acquisition's completions should be in the first half of 2019. On the same day, Bloomberg News reported that out of all 15 nations yet to approve the deal, China could become the biggest threat to the merger since the trade war with the USA resulted in the merger between Qualcomm and NXP not being realized.
On October 5, Disney announced the commencement of exchange offers and consent solicitations for 21st Century Fox.
On October 8, Disney announced that 21st Century Fox's top television executives would join the company, including Peter Rice, Gary Knell, John Landgraf, and Dana Walden. Rice will serve as Chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, succeeding Ben Sherwood while Walden is to be named Chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment.
On October 10, it was reported that the new, post-merger organizational structure of "New Fox" would be implemented by January 1, 2019, ahead of the closure of the Disney sale (which is still expected to occur during the first half of 2019).
On October 15, Disney offered a list of concessions to the European Commission, which extended the review deadline to November 6.
On November 6, the sale was cleared by the European Commission, pursuant to the divestment of certain factual television networks in Europe owned by the Disney/Hearst joint venture A&E Networks, including Blaze, Crime & Investigation, History, H2, and Lifetime. Disney will continue to be a 50 percent owner of A&E in areas outside of the European Economic Area.
On November 19, Chinese regulators approved the Disney-Fox deal, without any conditions, with regulatory approval from several countries still remaining.
After obtaining approval from Chinese regulators, Disney reported that it still needed to obtain regulatory approval from several other regulators, though the approvals from the United States, European Union, and China were considered the most important hurdles to clear.
On November 21, Disney expected to get approval from Brazil's antitrust division, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), within two weeks. On December 3, CADE stated that the deal would concentrate the market of cable sports channels. CADE recommended remedial measures, and has until March 23, 2019 to issue a decision; the deadline may be extended for 90 days.
On December 13, Disney announced a new organizational structure for its international operations and the individuals who would join the company, including Rebecca Campbell, Jan Koeoppen, Diego Lerner, and Uday Shankar. Shankar who currently serves as Chairman and President Fox Networks Group Asia and Star India will lead Disney's Asian operations and will become the new Chairman of Disney India.
By December 14, the merger was subjected to regulation in Mexico, where Disney/Fox would account for 27.8% of content distribution across all genres. Sports broadcasting was Mexico's main concern.
On January 3, 2019, Bloomberg reported that Brazil's Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) is expected to approve the media-asset deal without pressing for any property sales. CADE is expecting to see a proposal from the two companies that includes behavioral changes after some back-and-forth meetings in December. Concerns centered on the sports impact from the combination of ESPN and Fox Sports. According to the report, CADE is aware that other services compete in sports broadcasting. A ruling could come as soon as January 30, when regulators come back from year-end recess.
On January 7, 21st Century Fox filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to create Fox Corporation, the company to be spun off in connection with the Walt Disney Company's acquisition of most of its film and television assets. "New" Fox will include the company's branded news, sports and entertainment assets: Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Sports, Fox Television Stations Group, and sports cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes, and Big Ten Network.
On January 11, Fox Corporation said in a securities filing that it has no plans to bid on the Fox regional sports networks that Disney is selling to get approval for the assets to be acquired from 21st Century Fox. The deal between Disney and Fox is expected to close between February and March. However, on January 30, in a SEC filing by Disney, it was reported that the deal is expected to close by June.
On January 31, Mexico's Federal Commission of Economic Competition (COFECE) approved the Disney-Fox deal after Disney agreed to sell its stake in Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing de México, a Mexican film distributor, to Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group.
On February 5, during Disney's Q1 2019 earnings call, Bob Iger confirmed that Disney was still waiting on approval from the "last few remaining markets" for Disney-Fox.
On February 12, Bob Iger met with Brazil's antitrust regulator CADE to discuss the Disney-Fox deal. However a decision on the deal still could not be reached. CADE has until March 17th to make a decision. If the deal is not discussed at CADE's February 27th meeting then an extension will most likely be given extending the review a further 90 days. Regulators are split on whether the deal can be approved without the need for Disney to sell either Fox Sports or ESPN. However, on February 20, Bloomberg confirmed that CADE will make its ruling on the Disney-Fox deal on February 27, 2019.
On February 21, Bloomberg reported that Disney will divest Fox Sports in Brazil and Mexico to get approval in these countries. The two countries are among the last major hurdles for the Disney-Fox deal.
On February 27, Brazil's antitrust agency CADE approved the merger with conditions requiring Disney to divest Fox Sports Brazil among other measures. The regulator said that they coordinated with regulators in Mexico and Chile in evaluating the transaction. Brazil's approval clears one of the final hurdles, allowing the deal to be completed as early as March.
On March 4, The Walt Disney Company tweaked Robert Iger’s compensation package he would receive upon closing the Disney-Fox deal, removing $13.5 million in potential salary and incentive awards available for the chief executive after the company closes its acquisition of 21st Century Fox Inc. assets.
On March 5, Disney announced that Craig Hunegs would lead the combined TV operations at Disney Television Studios once the Disney-Fox deal closes. Hunegs will be president of the division, with oversight of all operations, including ABC Studios, ABC Signature, 20th Century Fox Television, and Fox 21 TV studios. He'll report to Dana Walden, currently chairman/CEO of Fox Television Group who will be chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment.
On March 7, Bob Iger stated at an annual meeting that the Disney–Fox deal would be ready to close 'soon', and that following the acquisition, 20th Century Fox would still keep its name alongside Fox Searchlight Pictures, and the FX Networks.
On March 11, Mexico's telecom regulator, Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) approved the deal under the condition that Disney and Fox agree to sell Fox Sports in the country. They also had to keep the National Geographic brand separate from its A&E channels. This cleared the last major holdout on the deal.
On March 12, Disney announced that it has set to close the Fox deal on March 20, 2019.
On March 19, Fox Corporation officially became a standalone, publicly traded company, separate from 21st Century Fox, making Fox Corporation the owner of the assets that were not acquired by Disney. The announcement also included appointment of the board of directors. Also on March 19, 2019, 21st Century Fox officially completed distribution of shares ahead of the completion of the Disney deal on March 20.
On March 21, it was reported that Disney would shut down the Fox 2000 Pictures studio on October 4, 2019, following the release of The Woman in the Window. On the same day it was reported that up to 4,000 people could lose their jobs as Disney commenced layoffs following the merger.
On April 3, Debmar-Mercury, the television syndication arm of Lionsgate announced that will end its national ad sales partnership with 20th Television, and they will transfer their national ad sales for their first-run and off-network shows by the company to CBS Television Distribution Media Sales. However, Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns will continue to be handled by Disney for ad sales even after CTD takes over the national ad sales for the company's shows.
On April 15, Hulu acquired AT&T's 9.5 stake in Hulu for $1.43 billion, with Disney and NBC Universal co-owning the share.
On April 24, Disney announced that it had canceled a number of upcoming Fox films such as Mouse Guard, News of the World (whose rights were then picked up by Universal Pictures), and an adaptation of Angie Thomas' On the Come Up (whose rights were then moved to Paramount Players), and that some projects, such as the Kingsman prequel The Great Game, Fear Street, and Steven Spielberg's remake of West Side Story, were still in production. Sinclair Broadcast Group agreed on April 26 to acquire Fox Sports Networks (excluding the YES Network, being sold separately to Yankee Global Enterprises) from Disney for $10 billion.
On May 7, Disney announced a revised release schedule for several Disney and Fox films. Among the changes, several films (Artemis Fowl, Ad Astra, Spies in Disguise, The New Mutants, and Call of the Wild), were moved to later release dates. All the Fox Marvel movies previously scheduled for release after 2019 were removed from the schedule. Avatar 2 was rescheduled from 2020 to a 2021 Christmas release, after which the Avatar sequels will be released every other Christmas holiday release, alternating with the Star Wars sequels through 2027.
On May 14, Disney announced it had assumed control of Hulu as part of a put/call agreement with Comcast and its 30% stake in the service. Comcast will continue to license NBCUniversal content and live carriage of NBCUniversal channels until late 2024 and their stake in Hulu could be sold to Disney as early as January of that year. In addition, both companies will fund Hulu's purchase of AT&T's 9.5% stake in Hulu.
On July 3, Fox Stage Productions was moved into Disney Theatrical Group as Buena Vista Theatrical division with all top executives leaving at that time. On August 1, Disney announced that the Fox Research Library will be folded into the Walt Disney Archives and Disney Imagineering Archives by January 2020.
On August 7, Disney announced that they would overhaul Fox film projects in development except Avatar, Planet of the Apes, and Kingsman sequels due to Dark Phoenix causing a third-quarter loss. A new reduced slate of about 10 films per year fully overseen by Disney will now be the main focus, with 20th Century Fox making half of the movies for Hulu and Disney+. Fox properties, such as Home Alone, Night at the Museum, and Diary of the Wimpy Kid have been assigned for Disney+ release and assigned to Fox Family.
On August 9, the Los Angeles Times reported that Disney would be pulling all Fox film library titles out of all theater chains and moving them onto either Hulu or Disney+. Little Theatre, a local theater chain in Rochester, New York, was forced to cancel their August 5 screening of Fight Club after Disney notified the theater that it was not allowed to screen the film in the future.
On August 22, Sinclair completed its acquisition of Fox Sports Networks from Disney. Seven days later, the Yankees/Sinclair/Amazon consortium also completed the acquisition of the 80% share of YES Network from Disney on August 29, 2019 with the Yankees owning 65%, Sinclair owning 20%, and Amazon owning the remaining 15%.
On October 22, the Banijay Group announced its intent to acquire Endemol Shine Group from Disney and Apollo Global Management for $2.2 billion. Disney and Apollo agreed to sell Endemol to Banjay on October 26, 2019, pending antitrust approval from regulators.
On October 24, Vulture reported that Disney was placing all of Fox's older films into the Disney Vault, with several theaters and film programmers reporting that Fox's back catalogue was no longer available to them.
On January 17, 2020, Variety reported that Disney dropped the "Fox" name from "20th Century Fox" and "Fox Searchlight Pictures" branding, instead rebranding it respectively as "20th Century Studios" and "Searchlight Pictures". The renaming was done to avoid brand confusion as the two studios are no longer tied to the Fox Corporation.
On August 10, 2020, Disney announced a reorganization and rebranding of its television studios, with 20th Century Fox Television being subsumed by 20th Television, and Fox 21 Television Studios being rebranded as Touchstone Television (reviving a name dropped in 2007 by what then became ABC Studios — which itself was renamed ABC Signature).
2020–present: The Chapek Era
On February 25, 2020, Bob Iger stepped down as chief operating officer of The Walt Disney Company, effective immediately, and named Bob Chapek of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products as its new CEO. Iger then assumed the role of Executive Chairman and its Board of Directors to ensure a smooth transition through the end of his contract with the company on December 31, 2021.
In April 2020, Iger resumed operational duties of the company as executive chairman to help the company through the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic. In the same month, CEO Bob Chapek was appointed to its board of directors.
The company also announced that it would suspend pay to more than 100,000 employees ("cast members") at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products in response to the Coronavirus recession—reportedly amounting to monthly savings of $500 million for the company—while continuing to provide full healthcare benefits. Reportedly, staff in the United States and France is affected and was encouraged to apply for government support.
Due to the closure of Disney parks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney experienced a 63 percent drop in earnings for the fiscal second quarter of 2020, resulting in a loss of $1.4 billion for the company. Additionally, the Parks, Experiences and Products division experienced a loss of $1 billion in revenue. Abigail Disney, an heir to the Walt Disney fortune, criticized the company for maintaining dividends and bonuses worth more than $1.5bn while suspending the pay of 100,000 workers during the coronavirus pandemic. In September 2020, the company announced that it will be laying off 28,000 employees in Florida and California. According to Disney's park chairman, Josh D'Amaro, "We initially hoped that this situation would be short-lived and that we would recover quickly and return to normal. Seven months later, we find that has not been the case." According to D’Amaro, two-thirds of all employees reported to be laid off were part-time workers.
Company divisions and subsidiaries
The Walt Disney Company operates six primary business units, which it refers to as "business segments":
- The Walt Disney Studios group consists of the company's filmed entertainment, music, and theatrical entertainment businesses, including Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, 20th Century Animation, Searchlight Pictures, and Disneynature. The division is led by Alan Horn and Alan Bergman.
- Disney General Entertainment (DGE) consists of the company's entertainment-centric television channels and production companies in the United States, including Walt Disney Television (consisting of the ABC television network, Disney Television Studios – ABC Signature, 20th Television and Touchstone Television, ABC Owned Television Stations and Freeform), Disney Branded Television, FX Networks, ABC News and 73% ownership of National Geographic Partners. The division also owns 50% of A&E Networks with Hearst Communications. The division is led by Peter Rice.
- The Disney Sports Networks group focuses on ESPN’s live sports programming, as well as sports news and original and non-scripted sports-related content, for the cable channels, ESPN+, and ABC. The division is led by James Pitaro.
- Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution (DMED) is responsible for all global distribution, operations, sales, advertising, data and technology functions for the company's three aforementioned content production divisions, as well as management of the company’s direct-to-consumer businesses, including its multiple streaming services (Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+), theatrical exhibition unit, home media distribution, Disney Music Group, and domestic television networks. The division is led by Kareem Daniel.
- Disney International Operations comprises the company's international business units and their operations within international markets. Formerly included the direct-to-consumer business and streaming services, which was reorganized under Media and Entertainment Distribution. Notable international holdings include international variations of Disney's domestic television channels (operated by either Disney Branded Television or Fox Networks Group International), as well as the Indian broadcasting and media company Star India. The division is led by Rebecca Campbell.
- Disney Parks, Experiences and Products includes the company's theme parks, cruise line, travel-related assets, consumer products, and publishing divisions. Disney's resorts and diversified related holdings include: Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, Disney Vacation Club, Disney Cruise Line, and Adventures by Disney. The division is led by Josh D'Amaro.
In addition, Marvel Entertainment is also a direct CEO reporting business, while its financial results are primarily divided between the Studios and Consumer Products segments.
Chief Executive Officers
Chairmen of the Board
- 1986–2004: Michael Eisner
- 2004–2006: George J. Mitchell
- 2007-2012: John E. Pepper, Jr.
- 2012 - present: Robert Iger
Vice Chairman of the Board
- 1986–2003: Roy E. Disney
- 1999–2000: Sanford Litvack (Co-Vice Chair)
Chief Operating Officers
- 1986–1994: Frank Wells
- 1997–1999: Sanford Litvack (Acting Chief of Operations)
- 2000–2005: Robert Iger
- 2020 - present: Robert Iger
|Year||Walt Disney Studio Entertainment||Disney Consumer Products||Walt Disney
Parks and Resorts
|Disney Media Networks||Walt Disney Internet Group/ Disney Interactive Media Group||Total|
|Year||Walt Disney Studio Entertainment||Disney Consumer Products||Walt Disney
Parks and Resorts
|Disney Media Networks||Walt Disney Internet Group / Disney Interactive Media Group||Total|
Some of Disney's animated family films have drawn fire for being accused of having sexual references hidden in them, among them The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994). Instances of sexual material hidden in some versions of The Rescuers (1977) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) resulted in recalls and modifications of the films to remove such content.
Some religious welfare groups, such as the Catholic League, have opposed films including Priest (1994) and Dogma (1999). A book called Growing Up Gay, published by Disney-owned Hyperion Press and similar publications, as well as the company's extension of benefits to same-sex domestic partners, spurred boycotts of Disney and its advertisers by the Catholic League, the Assemblies of God USA, the American Family Association, and other conservative groups. The boycotts were discontinued by most of these organizations by 2005. In addition to these social controversies, the company has been accused of human rights violations regarding the working conditions in factories that have produced their merchandise.
Many animation studios are currently setting up arms for conducting activities related to Corporate Social Responsibility. Though many studios are still yet to have fully functional wings for these programs, the Walt Disney Company has already set up many programs in order to cement its image as an entity that is socially responsible.
Among the many programs initiated by Disney are the annual Enviroports (i.e. environmental report) that Disney now publishes yearly to keep its shareholders in touch with exactly how it attempts to optimize the company's operational impact on environmental issues such as reduction of waste, fossil-fuel use, and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as improved eco-system protection. This has led to appreciation by many third parties such as the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and Reputation Institute, which ranks Disney 2nd in a Corporate Social Responsibility Index, with a score of 81.33, devised in 2010. The report also establishes that Disney has improved its performance year-on-year and is second on two out of the three categories listed for measurement.
- Walt Disney Animation Studios
- Walt Disney
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Disney XD
- List of Disney theatrical animated features
- Building a Company: Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empire, Bob Thomas, 1998
- Building a Dream; The Art of Disney Architecture, Beth Dunlop, 1996, ISBN 0-8109-3142-7
- Cult of the Mouse: Can We Stop Corporate Greed from Killing Innovation in America?, Henry M. Caroselli, 2004, Ten Speed Press
- Disney: The Mouse Betrayed, Peter Schweizer
- The Disney Touch: How a Daring Management Team Revived an Entertainment Empire, by Ron Grover (Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1991), ISBN 1-55623-385-X
- The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney, Richard Schickel, 1968, revised 1997
- Disneyana: Walt Disney Collectibles, Cecil Munsey, 1974
- Disneyization of Society: Alan Bryman, 2004
- DisneyWar, James B. Stewart, Simon & Schuster, 2005, ISBN 0-684-80993-1
- Donald Duck Joins Up; the Walt Disney Studio During World War II, Richard Shale, 1982
- How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic ISBN 0-88477-023-0 (Marxist Critique) Ariel Dorfman, Armand Mattelart, David Kunzle (translator).
- Inside the Dream: The Personal Story of Walt Disney, Katherine Greene & Richard Greene, 2001
- The Keys to the Kingdom: How Michael Eisner Lost His Grip, Kim Masters (Morrow, 2000)
- The Man Behind the Magic; the Story of Walt Disney, Katherine & Richard Greene, 1991, revised 1998, ISBN 0-7868-5350-6
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