'Alice' boosts Disney's Q2

Company's net income up 56% from same frame last year

Disney's film studio has staged a dramatic comeback courtesy of "Alice in Wonderland," which performed so well that CEO Robert Iger named Tim Burton's 3D film a key component in driving the conglomerate's impressive quarterly earnings.

Disney reported Tuesday that its fiscal second-quarter net income surged 55% to $953 million, and revenue rose 6% to $8.6 billion.

Although most of Disney's units showed improvements, the film studio easily was the most impressive, with operating income soaring by a multiple of 17, from $13 million a year ago to $223 million this time around.

Much of that improvement is owed to "Alice" trouncing the performance of last year's big releases, "Race to Witch Mountain" and "Confessions of a Shopaholic."

"Alice" has earned more than $960 million worldwide, making it Disney's second-biggest film of all time behind "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," which took in $1.1 billion. "Witch Mountain" and "Shopaholic" earned $215 million worldwide combined.

Iger also was enthusiastic about the studio's prospects for the next few years, with sequels to "Toy Story," "Monsters, Inc.," "Cars" and "Pirates" in the works, not to mention superhero pics from Marvel, though Paramount will share the wealth a while longer as distributor.

Likewise, Marvel won't play much of a role at Disney theme parks beyond toys and other merchandise at the gift shops, but Iger said the $4 billion acquisition will contribute to the top and hopefully bottom line through video games, mobile applications, digital media and TV.

Regarding the latter, a Marvel programming block is being created for boys-focused cable channel Disney XD.

Iger also told analysts -- and hinted that other studios should follow suit -- that Disney intends on nurturing 3D to ensure it remains popular.

Mixing metaphors, Iger decried the "pasted-on approach" to 3D and promised that Disney, for one, would not go to the well too often, lest it risk killing the goose that is laying some golden eggs.

Iger also said the advertising scatter market is strong, and he expects good things for the broadcast upfronts next week.

He gave a shout-out to ABC's Wednesday night comedy lineup and to Disney Channel's "Good Luck Charlie" and "Phineas and Ferb."

At media networks, Disney's biggest unit in terms of revenue, operating income was flat at $1.3 billion, with a $39 million increase in cable wiped out by a $39 million decrease in broadcasting. Revenue was up 6% to $3.8 billion.

Operating income for parks and resorts fell 12% to $150 million on revenue that rose 2% to $2.4 billion.

Consumer products saw operating income leap 37% to $133 million on revenue that increased 20% to $596 million, mostly thanks to Marvel and "Toy Story" merchandise.

Operating income for interactive media improved by 10% to a loss of $55 million on revenue that grew 20% to $155 million. Disney said the improvements reflected higher subscription revenue at Club Penguin.

Disney shares rose 1.3% during Tuesday's regular session but fell 3.5% after hours.
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