Steve Jobs’ Pixar about to put the hurt on Disney

Pixar’s chief could shop for a new deal soon–leaving Disney minus an asset it sorely needs. What’s the best way to tick off Walt Disney Co.? Make an animated movie with a mouse as the lead character. That’s exactly what Disney’s partner, Pixar Animated Studios, is doing. The movie, which doesn’t yet have a name, is about a little critter who lives in an upscale restaurant. And, at least for now, Disney has no rights to it at all. Pixar’s planned mouse tale is the latest jab in a year-long sparring match between Pixar CEO Steven P. Jobs, also head of Apple Computer Inc., and Disney CEO Michael D. Eisner. The fight is over–what else?–money. Jobs wants more of it, especially after Pixar’s run of blockbuster animated films for Disney, including Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, and Monsters Inc. Without a new and better deal, Jobs could take his hit-making animators to another studio in 2006… Since 1999, Pixar has contributed $682 million in operating income, or 35% of Disney’s studio profits, says a Merrill Lynch & Co. report. Under its current deal, Pixar and Disney evenly share the $100 million or more it costs to make most of Pixar’s films. Disney takes 12% of a film’s gross to distribute, and the companies split the rest,” reports Ronald Grover with Peter Burrows for BusinessWeek Online. Full story here.

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