Walt Disney Pictures
|Subsidiary of a public held corporation|
Roy O. Disney
|Sean Bailey (president, production)|
|Parent||The Walt Disney Studios
(The Walt Disney Company)
Walt Disney Pictures, Inc., also referred to as Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, is an American film production company and a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, owned by The Walt Disney Company. The division is based at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, and is the main producer of live-action feature films within the Walt Disney Studios unit. It took on its current name in 1983. Today, in conjunction with the other units of Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Pictures is classified as one of Hollywood's "Big Six" film studios.
Nearly all of Walt Disney Pictures' releases along with Touchstone Pictures and Hollywood Pictures films are distributed theatrically by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, through home media platforms via Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and through television syndication by Disney–ABC Domestic Television.
The studio's predecessor (and the modern-day The Walt Disney Company's as a whole) was founded as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, by filmmaker Walt Disney and his business partner and brother, Roy, in 1923.
The creation of Mickey Mouse and subsequent short films and merchandise generated revenue for the studio which was renamed as The Walt Disney Studio at the Hyperion Studio in 1926. In 1929, it was renamed again to Walt Disney Productions. The studio's streak of success continued in the 1930s, culminating with the 1937 release of the first feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which became a huge financial success. With the profits from Snow White, Walt relocated to a third studio in Burbank, California.
In the 1940s, Disney began experimenting with full-length live-action films, with the introduction of hybrid live action-animated films such as The Reluctant Dragon (1941) and Song of the South (1946). That same decade, the studio began producing nature documentaries with the release of Seal Island (1948), the first of the True-Life Adventures series and a subsequent Academy Award winner for Best Live-Action Short Film.
Walt Disney Productions had its first fully live-action film in 1950 with the release of Treasure Island, considered by Disney to be the official conception for what would eventually evolve into the modern-day Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. By 1953, the company ended their agreements with such third-party distributors as RKO Radio Pictures and United Artists and formed their own distribution company, Buena Vista Distribution.
The division was incorporated as Walt Disney Pictures on April 1, 1983 to diversify film subjects and expand audiences for their film releases. In April 1983, Richard Berger was hired by Disney CEO Ron W. Miller as film president. Touchstone Films was started by Miller in February 1984 as a label for their PG-rated films with an expected half of Disney's 6 to 8 movies yearly slate would be released under the label. Berger was pushed out as a new CEO was appointed for Walt Disney Productions later in 1984, as Michael Eisner brought his own film chief, Jeffrey Katzenberg. Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures were formed within that unit on February 15, 1984 and February 1, 1989 respectively.
Walt Disney Pictures had pioneered the live-action remakes of animated films created by Walt Disney Animation Studios, with a live-action adaptation of One Hundred and One Dalmatians released in 1996. In 2010, Disney released Alice in Wonderland, an adaptation of the 1951 animated film of the same name that became the second $1 billion-grossing film in the studio's history. The film began a trend of live-action fantasy genre films being green-lit. Concurrently, Disney was not having stable commercial success with PG-13 tentpole films outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, with films such as John Carter (2012) and The Lone Ranger (2013) becoming major box office bombs. With sister units Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm successfully targeting the male market, the studio saw this as its niche. With the success of Maleficent (2014) and Cinderella (2015), the studio announced a whole series of live-action adaptations of animated films as being in early stages. The Jungle Book (2016) cemented this trend with a global near billion-dollar box office. Some adaptations are sequels to existing adaptations, origin stories and prequels. Disney had announced development of 18 of these films by July 2016. Disney identified this line as Disney Fairy Tale in its enlarged slate announcement on October 8, 2015 with four scheduled without titles attached.
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Instead of a traditional production logo, the opening credits of Disney films used to feature a title card that read "Walt Disney presents", and later, "Walt Disney Productions presents". Beginning with the release of The Black Cauldron in 1985, Walt Disney Pictures introduced its fantasy castle logo. The logo was created by Walt Disney Feature Animation in traditional animation and featured a white Sleeping Beauty Castle design against a blue background, with the studio's name and underscored by "When You Wish Upon a Star".
This logo and variations was seen before all films until 2006, when it was updated with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest at the behest of then-Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook and studio marketing president Oren Aviv. Designed by Disney animation director Mike Gabriel and producer Baker Bloodworth, the modernized logo was created completely in computer animation by Weta Digital and featured a redesigned 3D Waltograph typography. The final rendering of the logo was done by Cameron Smith and Cyrese Parrish. In addition, the revamped logo includes visual references to Pinocchio, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, and Cinderella, and its redesigned castle incorporates elements from both Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella Castle, as well as Walt Disney's family crest. Mark Mancina wrote a new composition and arrangement of "When You Wish Upon a Star" to accompany the 2006 logo. Beginning with the release of The Muppets in 2011, the words "Walt" and "Pictures" were dropped from the branding.
The studio's first live-action film was Treasure Island (1950). Animated films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar are also released by Walt Disney Pictures. The studio has released four films that have received an Academy Award for Best Picture nomination: Mary Poppins (1964), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Up (2009), and Toy Story 3 (2010).
Walt Disney Pictures has produced three films that have grossed over $1 billion at the worldwide box office; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006), Alice in Wonderland (2010), and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), as well as having released four animated films that have reached that milestone; Toy Story 3 (2010), Frozen (2013), Zootopia, and Finding Dory (both 2016).
‡—Includes theatrical reissue(s).
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Disney also exploited new technologies and delivery systems, creating synergies that were altogether unique among the studios, and that finally enabled the perpetual “mini-major” to ascend to major studio status.
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Disney pioneered the recent and lucrative trend of taking either old animated classics or fairy tales and spinning them into live-action features.
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