Scorecards 2009: Disney

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5

 
Thanks to growth at its TV networks, it wasn't a clean sweep of falling numbers at Disney. But the big news was the film studio, which CEO Bob Iger said had "an extremely disappointing year in 2009," with a 2008 profit of $572 million reversing to a $12 million loss this year.

All eyes, therefore, are on Rich Ross, who was made studio boss when Dick Cook was forced out in September. Since then, Ross has restructured the studio and killed such projects as "Captain Nemo: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and "Wedding Banned," a comedy that was to star Robin Williams and Diane Keaton. He also greenlighted a remake of "The Black Hole," which in 1979 made history as Disney's first PG-rated film.

If all goes as planned, the Mouse House also will own Marvel next year, and Iger plans to introduce some of the more obscure superheroes from that company's roster of 5,000 characters to TV and Internet audiences. Those that strike a chord would become franchises that could make their way to the big screen.

Speaking of franchises, Iger already is mentioning hand-drawn animated film "The Princess and the Frog" in the same breath as "Cars," "Toy Story" and "Pirates of the Caribbean."

In TV, Iger sees big potential with the new primetime shows "Modern Family," "FlashForward" and "V." He also notes that the Disney Channel has been posting "its highest-ever domestic ratings," and he praises the launch of boys-focused Disney XD. Plus, in the latest quarter, ESPN scored its "biggest-ever audience numbers." He also notes that the advertising scatter business is running about 25% above upfront, though he called it premature to suggest a strong ad rebound is afoot.

Falling DVD sales presented a challenge this year, a problem not unique to Disney, and Iger suggests more of the same next year because of a glut in the marketplace and changes in consumer behavior.

Although Disney stock rose a healthy 41% this year through Friday, that lags the performances of Viacom, News Corp. and CBS.

Top performers

Film
Up ($293 million domestic)
The Proposal ($164 million)
A Christmas Carol ($131 million)

DVD
Up
Bolt
Beverly Hills Chihuahua

ABC shows
Dancing With the Stars
Grey's Anatomy
Dancing With the Stars Results

Disney Channel
Wizards of Waverly Place
Sonny With a Chance
The Suite Life on Deck

More Scorecards
Time Warner
Disney
NBC Universal
News Corp.
Sony
CBS
Viacom
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