Monthly Archives: September 2003

Fish

Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton), 2003

Here’s one for those who like conspiracy theories: during 2003, Steve Jobs (head of Pixar animation studios) and Michael Eisner (head of Disney) were renegotiating the deal that allowed Disney to distribute Pixar’s films. With four straight hit films under their belts – Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, and Monsters Inc – Pixar had a strong bargaining position, and Disney expected their cut of the profit from Pixar films drastically reduced. Yet in 2002 and early 2003, rumours circulated that the upcoming Pixar movie, Finding Nemo, was not up to the standard of its predecessors. This put a small, but significant question mark over the future of Pixar – was their strong negotiation based on past glories, rather than a realistic assessment of what might be to come? Were Pixar due for a fall? Ultimately, the negotiations dragged on until Finding Nemo was released – whereupon it received universally positive reviews and eclipsed Disney’s The Lion King as the highest grossing animated film ever. Pixar’s status as the studio that could do no wrong was protected, and the cloud over the negotiations lifted. But here’s the question – could Disney possibly have started the bad buzz on Nemo to force their hand?

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