Saturday, September 19, 2009

Could Dick Cook's lay off cost Disney 4 BILLION dollars ?

Since last friday Disney denied that Dick Cook was fired. Alas, it seems that nobody really believes that Cook decided by himself to resign from the Walt Disney Studios, "effective immediately". But could the consequences of Dick Cook's lay off finally cost Disney 4 Billion dollars?

Dick Cook was one of the most popular executives at Hollywood, and even more than that, he was loved by a lot of influent directors/actors, and many more. Cook was "a crucial player when it came to persuading Steve Jobs and others to bring Pixar into the Disney fold" and for Steven Spielberg Dick Cook "was a major reason why him and Stacey Snider brought the new DreamWorks to Disney" and Steven seems to be "devastated" by the news of Cook's departure.

Johnny Depp said he was "shocked" because Cook was "a friend inside an insane system" and because the Pirates of Caribbean movies were "all born in Cook's office".
But Johnny had also other words about the next Pirates of Caribbean movie that should ring a bell inside Iger's head: In a phone interview from London Johnny said "There's a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment..." And in a Los Angeles Times interview Depp is "questioning whether he'll want to continue playing his key role in Pirates of the Carribean sequels without Cook heading the studio".

Now, do you have any idea how much money Disney did with the first Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy? Here are the numbers for the "worldwide grosses":
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: $654 M
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: $961 M
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: $1.066 B

Total: $2.681 Billion. And this is ONLY for worldwide theatres grosses, it doesn't count all the DVD and Blu-Ray sales AND all the money from POTC merchandise products. I don't have the numbers for these but with them we're probably close to $4 Billion.

According that the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie "On Stranger Tides" - which seems to be an adaptation from Tim Powers book - should be the first episode of a new trilogy, do you understand how devastating it could be for the WDC if Johnny Depp was finally saying "NO" to Pirates of the Caribbean 4th episode (and so to the next trilogy)? That's right: the WDC could say goodbye to the next 4 Billion dollars! And 4 billion dollars is really a lot of money, even for the WDC. In fact, it's exactly the amount that Disney paid one month ago when they acquired Marvel Entertainment!

I know, Johnny was at Dick Cook's D23 Expo presentation a week ago and did a fantastic appearance all dressed in Jack Sparrow - as you can see on the video below from Attractions Magazine - to announce, precisely, "On Stranger Tides". But, you see, may be the contract between Johnny Depp and the WDS is not signed yet... Probably Johnny said that "he will be pleased to play Jack Sparrow again as long as there is a good script and a good director"...but i doubt that the script is already finalised. And as long as there is no final contract, Johnny can do whatever he want. And one thing is sure: Johnny, right now, is very, very, VERY unhappy about Dick Cook's lay off.

Although Johnny love to play Jack Sparrow, he don't really need money and probably have enough now so he can choose to work only with people he like. But he love the Jack Sparrow character, and he love to play it for his children. And Johnny Depp also have a lot of respect for his fans. So all this will probably save the project...but you never know until the contract is signed...

So, is Dick Cook's lay off Bob Iger's first big mistake? Time will tell, but he should pray that Johnny Depp don't decide to "resign, effective immediately" from the next Pirates of Caribbean trilogy. Because, if Johnny does, then yes, Dick Cook lay off will have cost 4 Billion dollars to the Walt Disney Company.

Before we end this article, here is what is probably one of Dick Cook's last interview. Recorded at D23 Expo by Julia Boorstin for CNBC, Cook was explaining his strategy for years to come, and also talk about 3D.

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Video: copyright Attractions Magazine and CNBC

Friday, September 18, 2009

D23 Expo : Imagineering - The Storytellers Sandbox

I have more from the D23 Expo Parks and Resorts pavilion for you today, thanks to a great Youtube video from Tkfore21.

WDI Imagineers presented a brand new experience called "The Storytellers Sandbox". As you may have guess, it's made with sand, or actually video projection on sand. But as you will see the experience is interactive and the effects amazing. Have a look!

Youtube video: copyright Tkfore21 whom i thanks a lot!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dick Cook resigned from Walt Disney Studios - Johnny Depp and Spielberg "shocked" and "devastated" by the news

The chairman of Walt Disney Studios, Dick Cook, who started at the Walt Disney Company 38 years ago as a theme park ride operator announced his resignation late Friday.

Dick Cook was one of the most popular executives ever to work in showbiz and tonight, Hollywood can't believe this has happened. All the question now is to know what effect Dick Cook's resignation will have on upcoming movies. From a Deadline Hollywood report: "I hear that Steven Spielberg is devastated by the news of Dick Cook's ouster. Dick was a major reason why Spielberg and Stacey Snider brought the new DreamWorks to Disney. And now Cook's ouster may imperil a 4th Pirates Of The Caribbean movie. Noting that Cook first enticed him with the Pirates movie idea and there's no firm deal in place for No. 4, Johnny Depp said in a phone interview from London with Claudia Eller: "There's a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment," Depp said. "It was all born in that office."

Depp used words like "shocked... very sad" to describe his reaction when Cook called him a few hours ago to break the news. "He is the utmost gentleman, so he made the call himself. He said, 'I'd like you to hear it from me before you hear it from someone else or read it. He said today was my last day. He didn't give me a reason... I didn't see this coming. There was no reason to see this coming." Depp said "I consider Dick a friend inside an insane system. He's instantly trustworthy. And you generally don't meet people at the studios you trust," Depp said. "He's a rare beast."

It's going to be very interesting to see what will happen to Cook's latest production projects like the 20000 Leagues under the sea prequel and others, not to mention the Pirates of Caribbean 4 "On Stranger Tides". Will they be cancelled or not?

Below, the official statements, and to know more about this sad news - and if Cook realy resigned or if he was fired by Iger - have a look at articles on Deadline Hollywood and The New York Times. Disney and more wish all the best to Dick Cook for his new life.

September 18, 2009


I am stepping down from my role as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, effective immediately.

I have loved every minute of my 38 years that I have worked at Disney…from the beginning as a ride operator on Disneyland’s steam train and monorail to my position as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. To wrap up my Disney experience in a neatly bundled statement is close to impossible. But what I will say is, during my time at the Studio, we have achieved many industry and Company milestones. Our talent roster is simply the best in the business. I believe our slate of upcoming motion pictures is the best in our history. But most of all, I love the people, my colleagues, my teammates, who are the most talented, dedicated and loyal folks in the world. I know that I leave the Studio in their exceptional hands.

I have been contemplating this for some time now and feel it’s the right time for me to move on to new adventures…and in the words of one of my baseball heroes, Yogi Berra, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”


“Throughout his distinguished 38-year Disney career, Dick Cook’s outstanding creative instincts and incomparable showmanship have truly enriched this company and significantly impacted Disney’s great legacy,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. “We thank Dick for his tremendous passion for Disney, and his many accomplishments and contributions to The Walt Disney Studios, including a very promising upcoming film slate. On behalf of everyone at Disney, we wish him the best with all the future has to offer.”

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Picture: copyright Disney - AP

Alien Invasion at Hong Kong Disneyland as Halloween season began !

We were at HKDL with yesterday's article, and we are going to stay there today as HKDL Haunted Halloween began last night with the media and annual passholder preview and will end October 31st.

In Tomorrowland an alien spaceship has landed. After investigation, the “Alien Intelligence Agency” has reported that the spaceship is fraught with danger and signs of alien life forms. In the chilling interior of the spaceship, the Agents have uncovered secrets from outer space in its various dark chambers apparently used by the aliens for all kinds of sinister experiments.

The Agents have also discovered spacesuits which appear to indicate that the aliens were preparing to launch an attack. As the Agents ventured deeper into the crash site, a terrifying chamber was found containing the eggs of an unknown alien species ready to hatch at any minute. The search of the spaceship ended abruptly when the Agents were attacked by the aliens. The Alien Intelligence Agency is now recruiting daring Guests to board the spaceship and continue the investigation. Guests are advised to remain calm and watch out for alien encounters.

The baby aliens (they're cute actually) will come out from the eggs when you pass by and try to follow you, but their mother - the giant alien queen, a huge animatronic - is waiting at the exit to protect her babies and prevent they being taken by the visitors. Another one with the broken electric wires and space suits is at the entrance of Alien Invasion. According to the story of Alien Invasion, the agency couldn't find the entrance of the spaceship and decided to open it by using a bomb.

Frederick Chan director of marketing at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort declared: “This year, we set ourselves the task of creating a very unique Halloween experience using the imaginative theme of Alien Invasion as the storyline”. He added: “The Guests’ experience has been planned meticulous care along with their probable psychological response to the scary factors. There is no doubt this all-new attraction will make Guests feel like they’ve stepped into a Hollywood movie.”

Talking about movie, they've finally released the full version of the Halloween TV commercial, and it's indeed a real little movie, all in one minute!

They've also released the making-of, and it's interesting to have a look at it just to see that a 1 minute TV ad is not necessary a small production.

The dark force spreads also beyond Tomorrowland to the rest of the Park, and ghostly souls have returned to the Main Street Haunted Hotel. In Adventureland explorers have gone missing in the Demon Jungle.

They have done new scenes inside demon Jungle labyrinth, but HKDL only released pictures of this last scene where an Adventurer is attached on the wall and asked you to help her (or him) out.

Also, every night, Jack Skellington is rocking the Park with the Glow in the Park Halloween Parade. Screams are also being heard from those surrounded by ghastly ghosts and ghouls in the darkness of Space Mountain – Ghost Galaxy. Yep, the same Space Mountain – Ghost Galaxy that is coming at Disneyland this Halloween season!

Finally, specially at the intention of my HKDL fans chinese readers, here is the video of the Alien Invasion Opening last night at HKDL.

All pictures and videos: copyright Disney - Hong kong Disneyland

Alien Invasion Opening video: copyright gilbert23059 whom i thanks a lot.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

D23 EXPO Special Report : Hong Kong Disneyland Mystic Point Artwork

If you are a Disney and more fan reader you know how much i love artwork. in fact you can find on Disney and more and on Disney and more Artwork what is probably the biggest collection of Theme Park artwork - mostly Disney theme parks - on the web.

So, when i saw last friday all these beautiful Hong Kong Disneyland artwork that were display at the D23 Expo, and as photographers were allowed in the Disney Parks and Resorts pavilion, i asked Andy Castro if he could go back and shoot again pictures of the renderings in the best possible photo quality.

Andy did a great job, i enhanced them a bit to have them even more perfect, and here they are. We will begin by Mystic Point and Mystic Manor, a brand new ride - which looks very promising. I've also included new pictures of the models and my own comments on the renderings.

Soooo, Mystic Point will be one of the three new lands of HKDL and when Mystic Manor will open it will be probably an "instant classic" attraction. Before i go further i want to warn you that there will be major spoilers all along the article. If you don't want to know anything about the storyline, this is definitely not the right article! Also, click on each pictures to see them in big and explore details.

In the story line that WDI Imagineers imagined, the Manor owner is an explorer called Lord Henry Mystic, a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. If you remember well, Harrison Hightower III, the owner of the Hightower building at Tokyo Disney Sea - i.e the Tower of Terror - was also part of the same society. At HKDL action is supposed to be in 1908 and Lord Mystic is still alive and exploring the world. He is inviting us to this remote outpost in the Jungle. Mystic has a friendly companion, a monkey called Albert.

In the first scene above Henry Mystic will appear and warn us that a new artifact - a box - that he just bring back from one of his expeditions is supposedly enchanted and must be open very carefully.

We will then enter the loading room and board in the attraction vehicles which, let's remember it, are not omnimovers like in the Haunted Mansion and will be able to move in any directions or even spin.

Albert the monkey is intrigued by the box and will try to open it. And when he does, just like the box of "Pandora", the forces inside the box will be unleashed. A mysterious smoke will get out of it and will start to take over the different rooms. All the artifacts that guests will see in all the rooms will suddenly and magically come to life.

Inside the next room - the Music room - music instruments will start to come to life. I won't be surprised if we find in this room some Haunted Mansion effects - remember the piano who play by itself in the doors corridor?

The Greco-Roman Mediterranean room will be the next one, and statues or paintings will suddenly be alive. Here too, Imagineers can use improved Haunted Mansion effects, and we should probably have audio-animatronics for the "live" statues.

In the next room, the "Nordic Chamber" , expect a cold temperature when the Vikings will come alive!

Scene seven, "The Armory", should be more frightening with suits of armors coming alive - hi again to another Haunted Mansion effect - arms trying to chop towards us and even canons will blast at us, allowing the Imagineers to take advantage of the spin motion of the ride vehicle that will spin away like if we've been hit for real. When i look at the blast effect in the rendering it reminds me the "ring of smoke" effect used in the Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull attraction at Tokyo Disney Sea, and i won't be surprised if they use the same effect for the canon blast.

Egyptian Mummy lovers should be delight with the next room - the Egyptian room - where we can expect mummies coming alive and interesting special effects on the Egyptians bas-reliefs.

The next scene is called "The Tribal Room" and there is two renderings for it. The first one below is not only a dramatic scene with the "lava" statue but is also interesting on other points. If you look at the left of the artwork you will see a Tiki room tribute with not only Tikis masks but also a Tiki drummer , exactly the same one that we can see in the Disneyland beloved attraction. If you look at the right part of the artwork you'll see other tribal masks who obviously are throwing darts. i bet you that Imagineers will use the same effect used in Indiana Jones Adventure when you go through the "dart" room, just before the scene with the huge rolling ball.

The second rendering seems to confirm what i've just said - but Albert the monkey have more difficulties to escape the darts and arrows...

In scene 10 - the Chinese room - a monkey king statue which stands in its center will come alive and create a turbulent vortex, like a tornado. Four vehicles will join together and, due to the tornado wind effect, will begin to spin in an amazing choreography. At this point Albert the monkey understand that if he doesn't stop all this hell he will be in trouble forever...

In the final scene Albert will try desperately to close the enchanted box. Of course, at the last second he will succeed and bring everything back down to normal. Right after that, Lord Henry Mystic will pop up and say "Hi everybody, i hope you enjoyed your trip, i'm sure there was no problem with any of the artifacts and that everything is fine. Please come back and visit again when you're in the neighborhood!".

Looks like an instant classic attraction, doesn't it? Personally, i can't wait for its opening which unfortunately seems to be schedule for 2013.

Let's have a look at other Mystic Manor artwork and model pictures beginning by the ride vehicle design researchs.

Let's end with two more pictures with the "big" model of Mystic Manor.

The story line of the attraction as described above is coming from an Imagineer video interview that you can see on Youtube HERE. The technical aspects are my own speculations.

All artwork: copyright Disney - Disney Enterprises.

Important Note: Due to the quality of the pictures above, i want to remind you as it is written on the "terms of use" page that, in the event you download any material from The Disney and more blog, the download of the material, including any files or images must be for your personal, non-commercial home use only. You may not and cannot sell, print or reproduce in any way any material downloaded from The Disney and more blog, and specifically any material copyright Disney , Walt Disney company or any other companies.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

D23 EXPO Special Report by Andy Castro : The Walt Disney Studios Exhibit

The Walt Disney Studios had a great exhibit at the D23 Expo where guests could see props, sculptures and paintings that were used in the making of upcoming Disney movies. Thanks to Andy Castro's wonderful pics we will have today a closer look to them.

Let's begin by the items related to the Tim Burton's Alice in wonderland.

Next, the beautiful paintings for Robert Zemeckis "A Christmas Carol". By the way, i just learned today that the movie will have its world premiere on November 3 in London. regent Street, Oxford street and The "City" will be decorated with the colors of the movie. Jim Carrey, Colin Firth, Robin Wright Penn, Bob Hoskins and director Robert Zemeckis will be there for the celebration.

The world premiere will happen at Leicester Square, and for the first time in history, the three Leicester Square theatres will be part of the premiere, with 4000 seats reserved for this memorable event. tickets will be available for everybody so everyone will be able to be part of the premiere. Christmas carols singers ressed in 19th century costumes, snow falls, shows and giant screens will be all around Leicester Square. The premiere will be at the benefit of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.

Here are pictures of three gorgeous painting - in the grand tradition of Peter Ellenshaw matte paintings. For each painting, you have below the "framed" version and the high-res "flat" picture.

My God, they had the genius idea to show Big Ben while it was in construction! I love this one...

Next pictures are about Jerry Bruckheimer's production, Prince of Persia.

This Chinese Dragon was used in the making of The Sorcerer Apprentice.

Animated movies also had their own exhibit, whether it is 2D animation with Princess and the Frog sculptures...

...or 3D animation with the highly awaited TRON Legacy. Note that all pictures below of the fantastic TRON lightcycle are in high-res.

This last picture will end this article, but Andy and I will be back soon for a last D23 Expo article, and if you love artwork this next one will be fantastic, so don't miss it!

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All pictures: copyright Andy Castro and Disney and more