EXCLUSIVE: Millennium Trilogy star Michael Nyqvist, whose recent Hollywood films include Disconnect and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, is returning home to Sweden for dramedy My So-Called Father. Directed by A Summer Tale‘s Ulf Malmros, the film will be released in Scandinavia by Disney/Buena Vista next year. Up-and-comer Vera Vitali also stars in the story of a self-involved dad and the estranged daughter who tries to re-create him when he loses his memory. Jan Blomgren of Bob Film Sweden, which produced 2008 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner The King Of Ping Pong, is producing with Film I Väst, The Walt Disney Company Nordic, TV4, Molkom Film, GEL Investment and Nordsvensk. Bob Film is handling international sales.
Two producers today sued the Walt Disney Company claiming the company lifted their idea for a Christmas movie. “The ABC television movie, The 12 Dates Of Christmas, is nothing more than a hijacking of the Idea which was originally pitched by Plaintiffs to Defendants and the treatment which was given to ABC executives by the Plaintiffs, cloned and re-written in a crude attempt to conceal the brazen theft of the Idea,” alleges the Breach of Contract suit (read it here). Beth Grossbard and Barri Rosenblum, who goes by the professional name Barri Evins, are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from Disney, ABC, ABC Family and former ABC executive Beth Miller. In the complaint filed in LA Superior Court Monday, the duo allege that they and writer Denise Gruska met with then ABC Family Director of Development Miller and ABC Family VP of Original Programming Donna Ebbs on December 13, 2005 at ABC’s Burbank offices in a pitch meeting for their I Hate Christmas idea. It was from that meeting the Plaintiffs say that the idea for Miller-produced 2011 ABC Family movie The 12 Dates Of Christmas was hatched at their expense. In their four count complaint, including breach of confidence and breach of implied-in-fact contract, the duo have requested a four-day jury trial.
The Walt Disney Company has called Stan Lee Media’s multibillion-dollar lawsuit “flawed beyond cure.” In a motion to dismiss (read it here) filed last week, the company mocks SLMI’s legal claims that it actually owns rights to all the Marvel characters created by Stan Lee. “There is no conceivable basis on which Plaintiff can state a viable copyright claim against TWDC in this Court, or for that matter, any other,” the Disney motion says. “In sum, against the backdrop of Plaintiff’s six prior unsuccessful litigations on this topic, express judicial displeasure with Plaintiff clogging the courts with a repeated invocation of rights it does not possess, and the fact that TWDC conducts no business activities other than those of a holding company, this lawsuit is completely frivolous and should be dismissed,” Disney added. SLMI wants the profits from the $5.5 billion it says that Disney made from Marvel superhero movies and merchandise based on characters created by Lee, who no longer has anything to do with the company. The November 30 motion to dismiss, like the initial suit by SLMI in October, was filed in Colorado.
Disney plans to bring not just one but three new Star Wars films to the big screen, and the companies “have a pretty extensive treatment of the next three movies,” chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a conference call announcing its deal to acquire Lucasfilm. “Episode 7 will be released in 2015, the first under the Disney/Lucas banner,” he said, with Episode 8 and Episode 9 to follow. Disney plans to release a new Star Wars movie “every two to three years.” Disney also intends to pursue the Star Wars brand in their parks, with games and, “other initiatives,” CFO Jay Rasulo said. “Being that there hasn’t been a Star Wars film since 2005, a lot of the value we attribute to the deal is to come, added Rasulo. ”This gives us a great footprint in the consumer market, and we already had a good one,” said Iger of the licensing possibilities that the Star Wars franchise could represent for Disney.
Stan Lee Media, Inc. wants the profits from the $5.5 billion it says the Walt Disney Company has made from superhero movies and merchandise based on characters created by Stan Lee. Those characters include Iron Man, Spider-Man, most of The Avengers, The X-Men and more. “Defendant The Walt Disney Company has represented to the public that it, in fact, owns the copyright to these characters as well as to hundreds of other characters created by Stan Lee. Those representations made to the public by The Walt Disney Company are false,” says the company’s copyright infringement complaint filed today (read it here) in a Colorado court. SLMI, which Lee himself has nothing to do with nowadays, is seeking “the maximum statutory damages allowable” plus full control over Iron Man, Spider-Man and other characters. A failed party to past litigation with Lee himself and Marvel, SLMI also is seeking a jury trial in this case.
Walt Disney World has spent nearly $2.5 million on almost exclusively GOP candidates and groups in Florida so far this election cycle in an attempt to stop casino gambling. So says the Orlando Sentinel after a review of state records showing Disney’s political contributions:
UPDATE, 2:29 PM: The Walt Disney Company has sent out a new statement about Imane Boudlal and the discrimination lawsuit she filed today against her former employer:
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has a history of accommodating religious requests from cast members of all faiths. We presented Ms. Boudlal with multiple options to accommodate her religious beliefs, as well as offered her several roles that would have allowed her to wear her own hijab. Unfortunately, she rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work. – Suzi Brown, Director, Media Relations and External Communication, Disneyland Resorts.
PREVIOUS, 10:25 AM: The American Civil Liberties Union today sued the Walt Disney Company for discrimination on behalf of a Muslim former Disneyland employee. The ACLU says that Imane Boudlal was fired in 2010 from her job at the theme park for wearing the hijab headscarf at work. The organization, with law firm Hadsell Stormer Richardson & Renick, filed the federal lawsuit today. In a 28-page complaint (read it here), the ACLU went after the Walt Disney Corporation on seven counts including discrimination and harassment in employment, and failure to remedy discrimination and harassment. The ACLU and Boudlal are asking for a jury trial as the plaintiff seeks applicable statutory, actual and punitive damages under each course of action as well as her legal fees. In the complaint, the ACLU is also requesting that the court order that all “Disney employees, supervisors, and managers regarding harassment and discrimination.” Ms. Boudlal says that besides the issues of the hijab, in beginning in the summer of 2008 she became the subject of insults based on her religion, national origin and skin color by fellow Disney workers and supervisors. Boudlal said today that she was called a “terrorist,” a “camel” and a “bitch” by supervisors and co-worker as well as repeatedly subjected to comments about Arabs being bombmakers and terrorists. “When she reported these attacks to her Disney managers, she was told that she had to put up with them, told that Disney knew there was a problem, but that the solution was the directive from her bosses that she needed to stop complaining”, said ACLU chief counsel Mark Rosenbaum today. ”Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has a long history of accommodating a variety of religious requests from cast members of all faiths. However, because we have not seen the lawsuit, we cannot comment specifically about this situation at this time”, Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said in a statement.
During the continuing phenom that is The Avengers, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige talks with Bloomberg’s Carol Massar on the Disney lot in Burbank. He discusses the company’s future movies including Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2 and two others he says they haven’t announced yet. Regarding …
Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Robert Iger this week exercised stock options that netted an estimated $26.6 million in profit, Bloomberg reports. The sale of 1.8 million shares worth $81.6 million took place Thursday, according to an …
The Mouse is roaring in China. On Tuesday, The Walt Disney Company announced it had entered a partnership with the culture ministry and Chinese internet giant Tencent to develop the country’s animation business. Today, it has emerged that Shanghai Shendi Group, the operator of Disney’s planned Shanghai Disneyland, has secured a $2 billion loan for construction of the park.
The loan deal for the new Disneyland was signed on Tuesday and falls under a framework that Shendi agreed to in May with 12 banks including China Development Bank, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and the Bank of Communications, according to ShanghaiDaily.com. (A groundbreaking ceremony for the resort was held in April last year.) Shanghai Shendi Group vice president Shao Xiaoyun said the project will receive two syndicated loans with plans to develop the theme park as well as a tourism district in the surrounding area to be known as the Shanghai International Tourism Zone. The second phase of the loan will go towards an estimated $714 million cost to build the tourism area, according to ShanghaiDaily. The total cost of the park is estimated at $3.9 billion, according to Reuters.
Shanghai, China and Burbank, California (April 10, 2012) – The Walt Disney Company in China, the Ministry of Culture’s China Animation Group, and Tencent, China’s largest internet service provider, have formed a partnership, “The National Animation Creative Research and Development Cooperation,” to advance the country’s animation industry. The organization, announced at a signing ceremony in Beijing today (Tuesday), will serve as an incubator to train local talent and develop original content that will entertain audiences in China and worldwide.
London, 28th March 2012 – Through an agreement announced today by Disney UK & Ireland and Google, a selection of movies from Disney’s portfolio have become available for rent on YouTube and Google Play in the UK.
This is Disney and Google’s first content agreement in the region, and means that movie fans can enjoy a broad selection of titles distributed by Disney, wherever they are. Fans can use Google Play to rent and watch movies on their Android smartphones and tablets, and they can use YouTube (www.youtube.com) or the Google Play website (play.google.com) to rent and watch movies on their computers. Once viewers rent a movie on Google Play or YouTube, they can watch that rental film on any device or computer they are logged into during the rental period.
Available films will include recent hits such as “Real Steel” and “Fright Night”, action-packed blockbusters including “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” and “Con Air”, to timeless favourites such as “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”. Prices start from £2.49 SD / £3.49 HD per movie. Viewers will have 30 days to begin watching their rental, and 48 hours to finish.
The Walt Disney Co. and Univision Communications Inc. are in talks to partner on a 24-hour news channel, the Wall Street Journal reports. The channel would broadcast in English in a bid to align with changing demographics among U.S. Hispanics who speak English. The new channel would mark a huge departure for both ABC and Univision. ABC has stayed out of the cable news wars, and Univision has always been defined by its Spanish-language broadcasts. If the talks are successful, the joint venture’s goal would be to get the network up and running before the November elections. It would be based in Miami where Univision already has studios, the Journal said. Discussions have been taking place for more than a year and could still unravel. It would be led on the Disney side by ABC News President Ben Sherwood and on the Univision side by Univision Networks President Cesar Conde. The proposed partnership would be a bet by both companies that consumer spending by Latinos will continue to grow faster than the rest of the population. The number of English-speaking U.S.-born Latinos is also growing at a faster rate than those who speak Spanish.
The Walt Disney Co. has reversed course and withdrawn its applications to trademark SEAL Team 6, the name of the elite Navy unit that killed Osama bin Laden. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Navy filed its own …
UPDATE: ‘Mars Needs Moms’ A Costly Disappointment, But Disney CEO Bob Iger Stays Upbeat About Marvel, ABC And ESPN
UPDATE, 4:15 PM: How costly a mistake was Mars Needs Moms? Disney says the studio lost about $70 million in release costs and in an impairment charge for a film it now calls “very disappointing.” Still, CEO Bob Iger tried — not always successfully — to avoid sounding sour today as analysts probed him about quarterly results that seemed to have befuddled many of them. Iger talked up the prospects for Disney’s upcoming sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean and Cars. He also banged the drum for The Avengers, the Marvel action film due next year. Now that Disney has negotiated an early exit from Marvel’s distribution deal with Paramount, Iger says the movie will be the “first really big initiative” from Disney’s acquisition of Marvel with the potential to “turn into a true franchise.” He adds that Marvel is developing a block of shows for Disney XD, as well as individual programs for ABC and ABC Family. Also on the television side, Iger says the coming upfront ad market will “be a strong one” – which is far more vague than CBS chief Les Moonves’ projection of “solid-double digit increases” for his network. Iger acknowledged that the last few years were “not as great” for ABC as they were during the heyday of its hits including Lost, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy. But while he says that ABC has made “no decisions yet” about the primetime shows it will pick up for this fall, Iger adds that he’s “encouraged” by the pilots he has seen including “some really strong shows” from ABC itself.
It’s the first Disney theme park to be built in mainland China. Friday’s announcement from The Walt Disney Company and Shanghai Shendi Group, its joint venture partner in China, marked the start of construction at a groundbreaking ceremony held earlier in the day. It featured traditional Chinese drum music, a female soloist singing in Mandarin, a 50-voice Shanghai children’s choir, and Mickey Mouse dressed in a traditional Chinese costume. Following the entertainment and remarks, Walt Disney Co President/CEO Bob Iger and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs were joined by Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng and Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng to officially break ground on the project. It follows approval from the Chinese central government in Beijing.