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Eisner 'Confident' Disney Deal With Pixar to Continue

June 04, 2003|Richard Verrier

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Michael Eisner said Tuesday that the Burbank-based company probably will keep its long-standing and lucrative relationship with Pixar Animation Studios, creators of the current box-office hit "Finding Nemo."

"I'm fairly confident we'll be in business with them," Eisner said in a presentation to analysts and investors sponsored by Sanford C. Bernstein in New York.

But, without disclosing details, Eisner conceded that the terms of the current partnership, which runs through 2005, probably will change.

Pixar Chief Steve Jobs has made no secret of his desire to drastically alter the deal, under which the companies split all production and marketing costs and Disney collects about 60% of the profit.

Investors have been closely watching the progress of negotiations between Pixar and Disney. Disney has come to rely on the solid profits generated by its collaboration with Pixar -- a fact underscored by "Nemo's" $70-million debut over the weekend, a record for the biggest opening of any animated movie.

"We have a very good relationship with Pixar," Eisner said. "I think a better relationship today than we had on Friday."

Also at the meeting, Eisner said Disney's theme parks weathered the government's recent "orange" mid-level terrorism alert and that vacation bookings were picking up.

-- Richard Verrier

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