The Walt Disney Studios (division)

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The Walt Disney Studios
Type Division
Industry Entertainment
Founded 1923
Headquarters Walt Disney Studios, Burbank, California, U.S.
Key people Alan Horn (chairman)
Alan Bergman (president)
Sean Bailey (president, motion picture production)
Robert A. Chapek (president, distribution)[1]
Products Motion pictures, music publishing, stage productions
Services Studio production and distribution
Employees 166,000 (2013)
Parent The Walt Disney Company
Divisions Walt Disney Pictures
Distribution (Touchstone)
Walt Disney Animation Studios
Disney Music Group
Disney Theatrical Group
Subsidiaries Lucasfilm[2]
Pixar Animation Studios
The Muppets Studio[3]
Website Official website

The Walt Disney Studios is an American film studio, one of five major business segments of The Walt Disney Company.[4] The studio, known for its multi-faceted film division, which is one of Hollywood's major film studios, is based at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. Walt Disney Studios' film division is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).[5] The Studios generated an estimated income of $661 million during the 2013 fiscal year.[6] The studio entertainment business alone (live-action and animated motion pictures, direct-to-video content, musical recordings and live stage plays) brought in $5.83 billion in 2012.[7]


By the 1980s, The Walt Disney Studios' collection of film units emerged as one of Hollywood's "Big Six" film studios, mostly due to newly designed efforts in branding strategies, a resurgence of Walt Disney Pictures' animated releases and unprecedented box office successes, particularly from Touchstone Pictures.[8]

The Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group was formed by Joe Roth in 1998 to unite the Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood, and Disney film studios and led by David Vogel.[9] This was in order to centralize the various production units and to make live-action film production within Disney more cost-efficient.[citation needed]

In 1999, the Walt Disney Television Studio, including Buena Vista Television Productions, were transferred out of the Disney Studios to ABC Television Network[10] to merge with ABC's prime-time division to form the ABC Entertainment Television Group.[11]

Walt Disney Studios[edit]

In January 2003, Disney initiated a reorganization of its theatrical and animation units to improve resource usage and continued focus on new characters and franchise development. Walt Disney Feature Animation - sans Walt Disney Television Animation - and Buena Vista Theatrical Worldwide were placed under The Walt Disney Studios.[12][13]

In 2003, the first PG-13–rated film was released under the Walt Disney Pictures imprint, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, a movie based on the famous Disneyland attraction.[citation needed] Film director M. Night Shyamalan, who had done The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs and The Village with Disney clashed with the Group's executives during pre-production of his 2006 film, Lady in the Water. Shyamalan left the studio after Nina Jacobson and others become, in Shyamalan's eyes, overly critical of his script, which would eventually be produced by Warner Bros. Shyamalan is quoted in a book about the difficult period that he "had witnessed the decay of her creative vision right before his own wide-open eyes. She didn't want iconoclastic directors. She wanted directors who made money." In her own defense, Jacobson said, "in order to have a Hollywood relationship more closely approximate a real relationship, you have to have a genuine back and forth of the good and the bad. Different people have different ideas about respect. For us, being honest is the greatest show of respect for a filmmaker."[14]

In July 2006, Disney announced a shift in its strategy of releasing more Disney-branded (i.e. Walt Disney Pictures) films and fewer Touchstone titles. The move was expected to reduce the Group's work force by approximately 650 positions worldwide.[15] After being transferred to various other division groups since they were acquired in 2004 in 2006, The Muppets Studio was incorporated into the Walt Disney Studios' Special Events Group.[3] In April 2007, Disney retired the Buena Vista brand.[16]

In April 2009, the Studio announced the formation of Disneynature; a nature film production label.[17] The Studio launched its Kingdom Comics division in May, led by writer-actor Ahmet Zappa, TV executive Harris Katleman and writer-editor Christian Beranek. Kingdom was designed to create new properties for possible film development and re-imagine and redevelop existing Disney library movies, with Disney Publishing Worldwide getting a first look for publishing.[18]

On February 9, 2009, DreamWorks Studios entered a 7-year, 30-picture distribution deal with the studio's Touchstone Pictures imprint starting in 2011.[19] The deal also includes co-funding of DreamWorks by Disney for production.[20] In late 2009, Miramax Films, a formerly independent Disney film unit, was transferred to the Walt Disney Studios,[21] until its sale in 2010 to Filmyard Holdings.[22] The Kingdom Comics unit's creatives/executives moved its deal to an independent Monsterfoot Productions.[23]

On December 31, 2009, The Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. Disney began distributing Marvel Studios' films in 2012, acquiring the distribution rights for The Avengers and Iron Man 3 from Paramount Pictures on October 18, 2010.[24] On October 30, 2012, Lucasfilm agreed to be purchased by The Walt Disney Company and a Star Wars trilogy was announced[2] and was finalized on December 4.[25] Later that year on December 4, Disney agreed to have Netflix as its exclusive U.S. subscription television service for first run Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios and Disneynature feature films starting in 2016 to replace its agreement ending in 2015 with Starz.[26]

In April 2013, the Walt Disney Studios laid off 150 workers including staff from its marketing and home entertainment units.[27][28] In December of that year, Disney purchased the distribution and marketing rights to future Indiana Jones films from Paramount Pictures, while Paramount will continue to distributing the first four films and receive "financial participation" from the additional films.[29]

Studio structure[edit]

Studio units[30]
Film imprints and studios Disney Music Group Disney Theatrical Group Disney Studio Services[31][32] Special Events Group
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation StudiosDisneyToon Studios
Pixar Animation Studios
Walt Disney Studios Motion PicturesTouchstone Pictures
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Walt Disney Records
Hollywood Records
Disney Music Publishing
Disney Theatrical Productions
Disney on Broadway
Disney on Ice
Disney Live!
Studio Production Services
Walt Disney Studios (Burbank)
Golden Oak Ranch
The Prospect Studios
Disney Digital Studio Services[33]
The Muppets Studio[3]
Former units include


The Walt Disney Studios is the main production arm for Disney's motion pictures. Walt Disney Pictures is a film imprint that encompasses the release of its own productions, in addition to films produced by the company's animation studios, mainly Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios.[35] Another film imprint, Touchstone Pictures, releases films for more mature audiences including films produced by DreamWorks Studios.[36] In 2009, Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment, in addition to purchasing full ownership rights to Marvel Studios' films in 2010.[24] Disneynature is an independent film label devoted to nature documentary productions. In December 2012, Disney purchased Lucasfilm, its intellectual properties and Pixar Animation Studios became the Lucasfilm's partner company since The Adventures of André and Wally B..[25]

Hollywood Pictures was another division of Disney, which, like Touchstone, produced films for mature audiences, but was shut down in 2007. In 1993, Disney acquired Miramax Films and its Dimension Films genre label, with the former division operating as an autonomous unit until 2009, and the Dimension label becoming absorbed by The Weinstein Company in 2005.[37] By 2009, Miramax was folded into the Walt Disney Studios, and continued to serve as distribution label until it was sold by Disney to Filmyard Holdings in 2010.[34][38][39] From 2007 to 2010, Disney and ImageMovers ran a joint motion capture animation facility; ImageMovers Digital.[40][41]

All film productions mentioned above are distributed theatrically by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and on home media platforms by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.[1]

Disney Music Group[edit]

Disney Music Group is a music production group led by Ken Bunt, that consists of multiple record labels—Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records—and publishing identities that handle Disney's music.

Disney Theatrical Group[edit]

Disney Theatrical Group is the division producing live theatrical and stage events. It is currently under the leadership of Thomas Schumacher. The Disney Theatrical Productions division has been responsible for the production of many different musicals, touring events, ice shows and other live theatrical events. Their shows include: Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aida, Tarzan, Mary Poppins, Newsies and numerous incarnations of Disney on Ice.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Company Overview of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Inc.". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Disney purchases Lucasfilm, announces new Star Wars". 3 News. October 30, 2012. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Masters, Kim (20 October 2011). "Kermit as Mogul, Farting Fozzie Bear: How Disney's Muppets Movie Has Purists Rattled". The Hollywood Reporter. pp. 3 of 4. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "Walt Disney Co: Company Description". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Motion Picture Association of America – About Us". MPAA. Retrieved May 27, 2012. 
  6. ^ "The Walt Disney Company: Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Financial Report And Shareholder Letter". Page 34. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Revenue of Walt Disney's studio entertainment business, 2008-2013. The Walt Disney Company. November 2013. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  8. ^ Schatz, Tom. "The Studio System and Conglomerate Hollywood". Blackwell Publishing |url= missing title (help). "Disney also exploited new technologies and delivery systems, creating synergies that were altogether unique compared to other studios, and that finally enabled the perpetual “mini-major” to ascend to major studio status." 
  9. ^ Disney War, by James Stewart, 2005. Page 301.
  10. ^ Hofmeister, Sallie (July 8, 1999). "Disney Plans to Consolidate Two of Its Television Groups". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Hofmeister, Sallie (July 9, 1999). "Disney Combining Network TV Operations Into One ABC Unit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Godfrey, Leigh (January 3, 2003). "Disney Streamlines Television Animation Division". AWN News. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  13. ^ Godfrey, Leigh (January 3, 2003). "David Stainton Named President, Disney Feature Animation". AWN News. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  14. ^ Los Angeles Times (June 23, 2006): "Book Tells of Breakup with Disney"
  15. ^ "Schaeffer's Upon Further Review Highlights the Following Stocks: Abbott Laboratories, Bank of America, Knight Capital Group, and Walt Disney". Business Wire News Releases/Schaeffer's Investment Research. July 19, 2006. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  16. ^ Fixmer, Andy (April 25, 2007). "Disney to Drop Buena Vista Brand Name, People Say". Bloomberg Television. Retrieved August 8, 2007. 
  17. ^ Eller, Claudia; Dawn C. Chmielewski (April 22, 2008). "Disney gets back to nature". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b Kit, Borys (May 29, 2008). "Disney draws up plans for graphic novel biz". The Hollywood Reporter. Reuters. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  19. ^ "The Walt Disney Company: 2011 Annual Financial Report". The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved 30 December 2012.  Page 12.
  20. ^ Eller, Claudia (February 10, 2009). "DreamWorks gets Disney cash in distribution deal". Los Angeles Times. 
  21. ^ Eller, Claudia (October 3, 2009). "Disney to slash Miramax Films staff to 20, reduce releases to 3 a year". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  22. ^ Lang, Brent (December 3, 2010). "Tutor Gets His Prize as Miramax Deal Closes". The Wrap. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  23. ^ McNary, Dave; Dana Harris; Justin Kroll (2009). "Facts on Pacts". Variety. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  24. ^ a b Kim Masters (October 18, 2010). "Disney to Distribute Marvel's 'The Avengers,' 'Iron Man 3'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  25. ^ a b Patten, Dominic (December 4, 2012). "Disney-Lucasfilm Deal Cleared By Feds". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  26. ^ Crowe, Deborah (December 4, 2012). "Disney, Netflix Sign Distribution Deal". Los Angeles Business Journal. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  27. ^ Barnes, Brooks (April 10, 2013). "Disney Studios Lays Off 150 Employees". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  28. ^ Miller, Daniel (5 April 2013). "Walt Disney Co. expected to begin layoffs". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  29. ^ Kroll, Justin (December 6, 2013). "Disney Acquires Rights to Future ‘Indiana Jones’ Movies". Variety. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  30. ^ "The Walt Disney Studios – Our Businesses". The Walt Disney Company. The Walt Disney Studios. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  31. ^ "The Walt Disney Studios". The Walt Disney The Walt Disney Studios. Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Disney Studios Services". The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Disney Digital Studio Services". Disney Digital Disney. Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
  34. ^ a b "The Walt Disney Company: 2011 Annual Financial Report". The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved December 30, 2012.  Page 12
  35. ^ "About The Walt Disney Studios". The Walt Disney Company. The Walt Disney Studios. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  36. ^ Variety: Disney signs deal with DreamWorks; Company will handle distribution for films, Variety, February 9, 2009
  37. ^ Eller, Claudia; Lorenza Munoz (22 February 2005). "Disney's Miramax Unit to Get a Makeover". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  38. ^ "Miramax offices close, Disney says brand continues". Lowell Sun. Associated Press. January 29, 2010. 
  39. ^ Graser, Marc (January 29, 2010). "Rich Ross reshapes Disney film studios". Variety. 
  40. ^ "Disney, "Polar Express" director in animation deal". Reuters. February 5, 2007. Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  41. ^ Finke, Nikki (March 12, 2010). "Disney Closing Zemeckis' Digital Studio". Retrieved 2010-11-21. 

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