Disney's New War: Who Won?
Hollywood veterans see the rise of Marc Shmuger to the head of Universal Pictures and Oren Aviv to the head of Disney as a triumph of marketing over art, published reports noted today (Thursday), in the wake of a major reorganization at Disney announced Wednesday. Both men had previously been marketing executives at their respective studios. Director Jon Turteltaub (Cool Runnings, While You Were Sleeping, National Treasure) told today's Los Angeles Times that Aviv "makes you realize that selling tickets to movies is not embarrassing. ... He's had some of his creativity held back because marketing was not allowed to step on the toes of production." Aviv himself told the newspaper: "I don't think anyone should think of a marketable movie idea as a dirty word. ... I want to make movies like The Pacifier." (He was referring to the family-friendly Vin Diesel film about a former Navy SEAL who is assigned to protect the children of a slain government scientist.) In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, producer Brian Grazer (The Da Vinci Code) worried, "It's as if the managerial elite has made a secret pact to adhere to certain business principles that they want to enforce on agents and artists." The shakeup had little effect on Disney stock. On Wednesday, Prudential entertainment analyst Katherine Styponias said in a note to clients, "We concede that investors are not likely to reward a new film strategy with a higher growth rate until there is some evidence that it has having a positive and significant impact on the results."