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The Walt Disney Company has grown exponentially from what was the original idea: to be a generator of animated shorts. Its diversification has been such that it is the second most important conglomerate in the world in terms of profit after Comcast, and it has interference in technology companies, internet, television broadcasts, radio, theme parks and, at some point, it was even a shareholder of Sport teams. Come on, he has appropriated Business that became his competition … He is definitely one of the kings of the world. entertainment. But how did it all start?
The firsts years
Shortly after the brothers Walt and Roy O. Disney founded Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio in 1923 began their consolidation as leaders of the animated industry. In 1926 they renamed their efforts under the name Walt Disney Studio, because at that time it was just a studio, not all that the brand encompasses today.
Their first original animated character was Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit, which generated negligible profits because Universal Pictures owned the rights, it was until they created Mickey Mouse that things began to turn upside down. Since its inception, the company was characterized by using available technology to generate amazement in the public. For example, the short Steamboat Williestarring the good Mickey, reaped a first great success: it was the first animation with sound in history, a wise strategic decision that catapulted everything.
By 1929 the name changed to Walt Disney Productions, Limited, which also already had a division of merchandising (Walt Disney Enterprises), and two subsidiaries (Disney Film Recording Company, for film making, and Limited and Liled Raealty and Investment Company, for real estate properties). The growth was gradual, but it was also the moment when the brothers made the leap to paper, because the first Mickey Mouse comic strip was published in the New York Mirror – today the brand has magazines, books, comics and even video game-.
Another one of your wise decisions? Three years later, it signed an exclusive contract with Technicolor to make animated films in color – it was another of the initiatives that differentiated it from the competition and again technology was involved. However, from the beginning Disney found it necessary to distribute its releases through others: Pat Power’s, Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and United Artists, because it did not yet have its own division for distribution.
Foto: Hulton Archive | Getty Images
A slow growth
Expansion and natural growth led them to work on their first animated feature film: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1934), which started a whole new industry. With the proceeds of that film, it was built in Burbank, California, which today are its offices and by 1940 they became a public company in the stock market.
Unfortunately, after the crisis generated by the Second World War, the success of animated films was down. What did Disney do? They took their first steps in the production of live action films and documentaries, but when the market allowed it they returned to animations. The time was approaching to create his own distribution company, which happened in 1953 with Buena Vista Distribution.
In the 50s he also made the leap to television – but it would be until the 80s and 90s that he would produce his own animated series such as The duck adventures O Chip and Dale: Chipmunks to the Rescue– and in those early years both NBC and ABC broadcast Disney content. Thanks to the premiere of Disneyland, one of the series on schedule primetime longest-lived in history, an alliance was established between the House of the Mouse and ABC, which as partners financed and developed joint projects. Four decades later, Disney would acquire Capital Cities / ABC in 1995; the purchase included channel properties such as A&E Televisión Networks, as well as ESPN.
The parks and the beginning of consolidation
In the mid-1950s, one of the company’s most lucrative businesses was born, one that has even generated 70 percent of the company’s revenue: theme parks. They started in the United States with Walt Disney World, inaugurated in 1971 and later EPOCOT, but eventually they reached abroad thanks to the Tokyo, Hong Kong or Shanghai venues – they are currently located in more places – and even expanded their themes.
With the rise of the eighties video cassette, Walt Disney Home Video emerged, to expand the business and The Walt Disney Productions became Walt Disney Pictures. A year later, with Michael Eisner as CEO, Touchstone Films was created, a branch dedicated to releasing films for a target adult, among them Pretty Woman and The death poet Society, for instance. In those days, The Disney Channel was also launched, reviving shows and movies from the company’s catalog, but also creating original content.
Disney has diversified into the publishing and music world, owning Hyperion Bookstore and Hollywood Records, while the colonization of an older audience led them to buy Miramax – the original company of the Weinstein brothers. They even created the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim hockey team, and acquired shares of the Anaheim Angeles baseball team, which they would later sell in times of crisis. Within the internet world, he owns Starwave and Infoseek, and launched the Go Network portal in 1999.
In addition to the theme parks, it has a cruise line called Disney Magic and a ship called Disney Wonder. But the conquest of its competition began with the purchase of Fox Family Worldwide – which included the franchises of Power Rangers and Digimon– and seized the rights of Los Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House, originating from The Jim Henson Company, years ago Disney had tried, but the sudden death of its creator Jim put an end to the negotiation.
The consolidation of the domain
Already in the era of Bob Iger, current boss of the company, and who took his position in 2005, DisneyToon Studios Australia was closed, but another of the most impressive acquisitions of the House of Mouse took place: the purchase of Pixar for 7.4 billion . Steve Jobs, who owned 50.1 percent of the company, stepped onto Disney’s board of directors with a 7 percent stake, becoming the single most active shareholder. Furthermore, one of his most lucrative acquisitions is Marvel Entertainment, obtained for 4.24 billion in 2009, and turned into the most successful superhero emporium in movie history.
In 2010 Disney sold Miramax and its entire catalog of 700 films, and reduced the size of Touchstone, got rid of Image Movers Digital, a studio they had built together with Robert Zemeckis, and the Lyric Street record label; it also downplayed the size of Disney Interactive Studios. However, he got the Indian entertainment company UTV Software Communications.
Another media bomb courtesy of the House of the Mouse occurred in 2012 with the purchase of Lucasfilm for a value of 4.05 billion dollars, after which the saga of Star Wars. But he did not stop there, he joined his ranks Maker Studio, a multifaceted YouTube channel that cost him 500 million, but served to transform it into the Disney Digital Network. It also owns 75 percent of the shares of BAMTech, a provider of streaming of the baseball league. What are your plans? Turn it into a system video-on-demand by subscription that will allow you to make your own streaming replacing Netflix, where its content will no longer be broadcast.
As if that were not enough, in December 2017, Disney announced that it would buy 21st Century Fox for 52 billion, although that only includes the entertainment, film, cable and television and satellite broadcasting divisions. However, this merger is being reviewed by the US Department of Justice to avoid the creation of an anti-competition monopoly. The verdict will be released in about 12 to 15 months.
What started as a small animated shorts studio is today a dominant global emporium of various markets operated through its three major divisions Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Disney Media Networks, and Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. According to the data available so far, in 2017 it generated 17.6 million dollars until the month of September and its income at the box office exceeded 5 billion dollars. And you know what? In 2018 the company will go for more …
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How Disney has been taking over the entertainment world?