Tuesday, June 17, 2014

In and Around the Changing Hat

The House of Mouse appears to be doing well in the toys, clothes and bright shiny baubles department.

Merchandise featuring Marvel’s superheroes, Disney’s princesses, Pixar’s toons and Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars” helped the Mouse House ring up a record $40.9 billion in global retail sales in 2013.

The sales topped 2012′s $39.4 billion, $37.5 billion, in 2011, and $28.6 billion in 2010, according to Disney Consumer Products. Those kinds of numbers have long made the company the world’s top licensor.

Disney isn’t likely to give up that title anytime soon. ...

In Las Vegas on Monday, Josh Silverman, executive VP, global licensing for Disney Consumer Products, was joined by Mickey Mouse; Iron Man; Buzz Lightyear; Stormtroopers; Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ chief creative officer John Lasseter; Marvel’s senior VP of marketing Mike Pasciullo; and Lucasfilm’s executive VP of franchise management Howard Roffman during a company presentation for licensees and retailers.

While toys are still Disney’s top seller, apparel is also strong for DCP, and custom collaborations with designers like Stella McCartney and MAC cosmetics are growing around films like “Maleficent” and “Cinderella” that enable the division to court various age groups with product. ...

At least some of that good fortune is washing back to Disney's feature animation division. Mr. Lasseter, back from Vegas, was in the hat building today detailing the heavy-duty redesign the inside of the structure will soon be getting.

J.L. was in Feature Animation's theater showing drawings for the new interior of what has been an interesting but basically awful work place since the day it was completed. The structure went up during the Eisner era, when new Disney buildings on the lot and at the amusement parks had an edgy and flamboyant "look at me!" quality. (The Swan and Dolphin hotels at Disney World are good examples of this.)

The finest examples of "high Eisner" in Burbank are the Team Disney "Dwarf" building on the northeast side of the Disney lot, and the Hat building -- seen above -- on Riverside Drive. Both are visually arresting structures outside but dysfunctional inside, with long dark halls, cramped offices, wasted spaces. You go through the Dwarf building, you find yourself navigating narrow alleys between cubicles, searching for somebody's office. The structure itself might look all right on top of four acres of sloping lawn, but jammed tight against the corner of Alameda Avenue and Buena Vista Street, it's as out of place as a potato bug on a slice of lemon chiffon pie.

The new plan for the hat building is simple: keep the exterior as is, and gut the interior. There will be more open space and a much larger common area on the second floor near the current entrance (similar to the the Toon Disney building in Glendale (pictured below) and Pixar building in Emeryville) There will ge airy, open stairways.

All this will be a good thing, because the building, as currently configured ... how to I put this diplomatically? ... sucks big time. The joint is dark, the joint is hard to heat and air condition, none of the spaces inside the building flow together in a coherent way. (Did I mention it was "high Eisner"?)

It's going to take a while to reconfigure the place, and I'm sure it will disrupt various employees' work rhythms, but it's a project well worth doing, because the building as it exists today is pretty damn inhospitable.


David said...

"The finest examples of "high Eisner" in Burbank are the Team Disney "Dwarf" building on the northeast side of the Disney lot, and the Hat building -- seen above -- on Riverside Drive."

I always thought Michael must have been high when he commissioned those designs to be built.

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