As I’ve been predicting since early in the negotiations, Disney and Pixar are nearing a deal to re-up their distribution deal, which was set to expire after the release of Cars next year. I can’t honestly see how anyone might have believed this deal wasn’t going to happen–both companies stood to lose way, way too much if they parted ways: too much money for Disney, too much caché for Pixar.
I do have some concerns about the new agreement, if the information out there right now turns out to be true. If Disney were to outright purchase Pixar and make them the official Disney animation division, as one rumor has it, Pixar would lose the independence that’s allowed them to craft their movies they want the way they want to make them. If Disney owns them rather than simply distributs their product, Disney would likely want to have more of a white-gloved, three-fingered hand in what Pixar does and how, and we’ve already seen how wretchedly Disney manages their current animation department. I might be less concerned if they installed John Lasseter as Almighty Inscrutable Pixar Overlord and left them alone, but I have trouble imaginging Disney buying a new toy and not wanting to play with it.
Part of the deal might also include allowing Disney’s current 3D animation department to produce Pixar-sanctioned sequels to some of the Pixar catalog. I’m not sure if this one’s true or not, since Disney’s in-house 3D division seems to be nothing more than a poorly-constructed sham (“Circle 7 Studios” taking its name from the logo for the ABC studio across the street from their offices). I had been thinking that Pixar wouldn’t want to be involved with making any direct-to-video sequels of their work…until I remembered that Toy Story 2 was originally intended to be exactly that. So we’ll see; I’m going to leave this development in the “skeptical” column for now.
Those concerns aside, though, I’m very glad this deal’s going to get done. I’m not the biggest fan of The Mouse, but I realize that Pixar’s better off having their name connected to Disney than not. The distribution and promotion they get (like, say, having their creations slapped all over theme parks around the world) from being associated with the Disney Multimedia Conglomerate can’t be beat by anyone else they could have snuggled up with. And they certainly didn’t want to get into distributing their own movies; far better to let a company with that infrastructure in place take care of it so Pixar can stick with what they do best.