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The Walt Disney Company

 

The Walt Disney Company, commonly known as Walt Disney or simply Disney is an American diversified multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate headquartered at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. It is the world's largest independent media conglomerate in terms of revenue, ahead of NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia, which are owned by telecommunications giants Comcast and AT&T respectively. The company was founded on October 16, 1923 by brothers Walt and Roy O. Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio; it also operated under the names The Walt Disney Studio and Walt Disney Productions before officially changing its name to The Walt Disney Company in 1986. The company established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into live-action film production, television, and theme parks.
Disney continued to produce cartoons with Mickey Mouse and other characters,and began the Silly Symphony series with Columbia Pictures signing on as Symphonies distributor in August 1929. In September 1929, theater manager Harry Woodin requested permission to start a Mickey Mouse Club which Walt approved. In November, test comics strips were sent to King Features, who requested additional samples to show to the publisher, William Randolph Hearst. On December 16, the Walt Disney Studios partnership was reorganized as a corporation with the name of Walt Disney Productions, Limited with a merchandising division, Walt Disney Enterprises, and two subsidiaries, Disney Film Recording Company, Limited and Liled Realty and Investment Company for real estate holdings. Walt and his wife held 60% (6,000 shares) and Roy owned 40% of WD Productions. On December 30, King Features signed its first newspaper, New York Mirror, to publish the Mickey Mouse comic strip with Walt's permission.
The release of Cinderella in 1950 proved that feature-length animation could still succeed in the marketplace. Other releases of the period included Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Peter Pan (1953), both in production before the war began, and Disney's first all-live action feature, Treasure Island (1950). Other early all-live-action Disney films included The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952), The Sword and the Rose (1953), and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). Disney ended its distribution contract with RKO in 1953, forming its own distribution arm, Buena Vista Distribution.
While Walt Disney Productions continued releasing family-friendly films throughout the 1970s, such as Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) and Freaky Friday (1976), the films did not fare as well at the box office as earlier material. However, the animation studio saw success with Robin Hood (1973), The Rescuers (1977), and The Fox and the Hound (1981). As head of the studio, Miller attempted to make films to drive the profitable teenage market who generally passed on seeing Disney films. Inspired by the popularity of Star Wars, Disney produced the science-fiction adventure The Black Hole in 1979 that cost $20 million to make, but was lost in Star Wars' wake. The Black Hole was the first Disney film to carry a PG rating in the United States. Disney dabbled in the horror genre with The Watcher in the Woods, and financed the boldly innovative Tron; both films were released to minimal success.
Disney, which had taken control of the Anaheim Angels in 1996, purchased a majority stake in the team in 1998. That same year, Disney began a move into the internet field with the purchase of Starwave and 43% of Infoseek. In 1999, Disney purchased the remaining shares of Infoseek and launched the Go Network portal in January. Disney also launched its cruise line with the christening of Disney Magic and a sister ship, Disney Wonder. The Katzenberg case dragged on as his contract included a portion of the film revenue from ancillary markets forever. Katzenberg had offered $100 million to settle the case, but Eisner felt the original claim amount of about half a billion too much, but then the ancillary market clause was found. Disney lawyers tried to indicate a decline situation which reveal some of the problems in the company. ABC had declining rating and increasing costs while the film segment had two film failures. While neither party revealed the settlement amount, it is estimated at $200 million.

 


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