Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Former Disney Studio Chief Shows Importance of Video Releases

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Former Disney Studio Chief Shows Importance of Video Releases

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES -- Just as Disney's Hercules is hitting theaters, the company's former studio chief has opened a small window into the real power of animation.

Without animated hits like Fantasia and Beauty and the Beast, the Walt Disney Co. would have lost nearly $100 million on its movies in the early 1990s, according to corporate documents filed for Jeffrey Katzenberg's $250 million breach-of-contract lawsuit.

Disney's new film releases near the end of his reign would have lost $92.6 million without the video releases of animated musicals like Beauty and the Beast, according to the documents filed in the last month. The Disney corporate records also show the video releases of animated classics, including Fantasia and 101 Dalmatians, accounted for roughly half of Disney's entire 1992 corporate profits. Disney has made no settlement offer, said company attorney Louis Meisinger. Trial is to begin Nov. 18. "I have rarely been in a situation where there has been no movement at all toward settlement," said Katzenberg's attorney, Bert Fields. Katzenberg joined Disney in 1984 and turned its animation unit into Hollywood's most profitable franchise. He left in 1994 after he was passed over for its presidency, going on to co-found the DreamWorks studio with director Steven Spielberg and music producer David Geffen. He sued Disney in 1996, claiming the studio owes him 2 percent of profits linked to TV shows, films and related spinoffs developed under his supervision but released after he left Disney. He also is challenging Disney's accounting of films and ancillary products released while he ran the studio. Meisinger says Katzenberg left two years early under a contract that expressly said that he relinquished any claim to profits if he walked out. Disney says Katzenberg was paid the full amount of any bonuses owed and that it even accelerated deferred payments. …

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