Writing for BusinessWeek, Ronald Grover and Peter Burrows suggest that Steve Jobs and Pixar may be looking for a new partner beside Disney for a forthcoming animated movie.
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Running Pixar Animation Studios is Steve Jobs’ other full-time job when he’s not taking care of things at Apple. The studio has specialized in producing computer animated films including Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and Monsters Inc., all of which have been distributed by Disney.
The partnership has yielded huge profits for both Disney and Pixar from movie and home video revenues, merchandising, licensing and more, but it’s been recognized in Hollywood that Pixar wants a bigger cut of the action than its current deal with Disney affords it. BusinessWeek notes that a new animated film currently in development at Pixar featuring a mouse isn’t yet signed to Disney — suggesting that Pixar may be shopping the picture around to other Hollywood production companies.
Jobs and Pixar have contracts with Disney for their next three movies, including this year’s Finding Nemo . But beginning in 2006, Pixar can cut deals with other studios, and the company has already garnered the interest of Warner Brothers and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
What’s at stake is 35 percent of Disney’s studio profits since 1999, according to one report — or about $682 million in operating income thus far. BusinessWeek reports that Disney and its head honcho, Michael Eisner, are decidedly more diplomatic than they have been in the past when it comes to talk of a future deal with Pixar. Even rival studio Dreamworks SKG head Jeffrey Katzenberg said the two companies have something to offer each other.
“That makes sense. But when Hollywood and big egos are involved, it’s not that simple,” said BusinessWeek.