Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The Fall Of The House Of Eisner XVI: Still A Few Bugs In The System

Michael Eisner is telling investors that everything is okey-dokey and hunky-dorey at the Walt Disney Company!

Too bad some other sourpusses just refuse to get into the new "happy, HAPPY! HAPPY - DAMN YOU!" mood.

Like the Los Angeles Times and others who are suggesting that Disney's current animated barnyard dropping - Home On The Range - may require a $100 Million write-off. It's still just a little early to count out international returns, but Home On The Range has a more narrowly focused American sense to it than, say, The Emperor's New Goove - an earlier Disney animated mess that recovered to some extent in its international distribution. Production costs for Home On The Range were reportedly in the $100 Million range.

Then there is The Ladykillers, a Tom Hanks/Coen Brothers abortion with probably no significant international potential whose production and distribution budgets have not been disclosed to my knowledge, and has been described as "low budget." But those budgets must have been way, way over the ridiculous $23 Million it has grossed to date (unless Tom Hanks has taken a vow of poverty). Maybe another circa $100 Million write off? Tom Hanks - who dominates this film - reportedly admitted on television that he had not seen the original version on which this movie is based. Is it possible to imagine a higher level of unprofessional sloppiness?

And, remember The Alamo! Yes, Michael Eisner said the Disney movie studio group "is on fire," with The Alamo a major source of the conflagration, as in this update:

Disney's top-grosser so far this year is ice hockey movie "Miracle" with a comparatively small $63 million in ticket sales, but it was made on a relatively low budget. Eisner said last week word-of-mouth and expected reviews for "Alamo" looked good. "I won't oversell it because I don't want to disappoint," he told investors on a conference call. Studio chief Dick Cook told Reuters at the "Alamo" premiere in San Antonio that "No one movie makes or breaks a studio ... that is crazy." But a poor performance by "Alamo" would put pressure on Eisner, Schwab SoundView analyst Jordan Rohan said in a research note. Moreover, poor performance could also nudge the board toward negotiating with Comcast Corp., the cable company eager to buy Disney, Rohan said.

So Mr. Eisner said expected reviews for "Alamo" looked good? How about this one ("Emotionally inert and poorly paced, The Alamo transforms one of Texas' best-known events into an uninvolving bore.") and this one?

Yep. Happy, happy, happy ... all the time!

Odd that there's little official talk of Kill Bill II as fuel for the Eisner fire. Could it have something to do with this line in the credits: Executive producers: Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein? Maybe a combination of that line and the fact that Disney should be - and may be - looking for a new CEO? And who could that be?


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