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How Disney Turned Itself Around in the 1990s & Tonto

By Brendan Byrnes The Motley Fool

We talk with author and media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, who has published 10 books on media, culture, and technology. He joins us to discuss his most recent work,Present Shock, about living in today's immediate, always-on world.

In this video segment, Douglas explains why Disney's (NYSE: DIS  )  attempt to leverage its legacy products and characters didn't work, and how "living in RAM" succeeded where Mickey was doomed to fail. The full version of the interview can be found here. ....
 

Douglas Rushkoff: There's one way for Disney to make money, and the way they were looking to do it in the late '80s and early '90s was by selling off their historical assets on a certain level, or selling them out. "Oh, here's Mickey again." "Here's Cinderella." "Here's Sleeping Beauty," and throwing their old products out there as much as possible.

They were, in some sense, emptying the vault and spreading thin their old stuff, their legacy, all that. The parks started to suffer, actually, as a result of that. The parks started to decay, and they just weren't as interesting to people.

What they decided to do was to reverse what they were doing. Instead of looking at their value as being their vault of mythology, they started looking at their value as their front-line employees. They reversed, really, the dynamic of the company.

They saw management as, management's only job is to serve the front-line employees, and the front-line employees are the ones who are going to understand what the customers actually want, what's actually happening here. All the innovation really came from there, back.

It was an interesting model to use, because rather than being a historically based company, they became a real-time based company, that was based in what we now call customer experience, or brand experience, but is the lived, real-time experience of the customers....more

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Could This Be Disney's Next Huge Franchise?

By Steve Symington The Motley Fools

Disney  (NYSE: DIS  ) is no stranger to creating blockbuster movie franchises.

The three Toy Story movies from Pixar, for instance, raked in a combined total of more than $1.9 billion worldwide, including more than $1.06 billion from Toy Story 3 alone.

Then there's Marvel Entertainment's Iron Man franchise, which has taken in a combined total of nearly $2.2 billion to date -- and that includes more than $980 million in worldwide ticket sales from Iron Man 3 since its theatrical release less than two weeks ago. Also from Marvel, there's The Avengers, which itself took in more than $1.5 billion worldwide and has a sequel in the works....

Perhaps most impressive so far, however, is the performance of the four Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which managed a combined box office gross of almost $3.73 billion.

The next big thing
With that in mind, Disney CEO Robert Iger also took the time during his company's latest earnings call to remind investors that Johnny Depp will star as Tonto in The Lone Ranger this July.

In case you're wondering, Depp's involvement is no coincidence; both Pirates director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer worked on The Lone Ranger, and Bruckheimer apparently first mentioned the role to Depp way back in 2008 while working on the set of one of the earlier Pirates films.

Believe it or not, I think The Lone Ranger has what it takes to become Disney's nexthuge franchise....more




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