Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Monument Falls

Errgh. For fans of Uncle Walt's fifty-year-old distribution arm, this is awful news:

Walt Disney Co., the second-largest U.S. media company, will change the name of its Buena Vista entertainment divisions to Disney within weeks, people involved in the plans said.

Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger is seeking to simplify the company's marketing and reduce costs by narrowing most brand names to Disney, ABC and ESPN. In February, Iger changed Touchstone Television production company to ABC Television Studio and Buena Vista Games became Disney Interactive Studios.

``They are trying to leverage the Disney brand as much as possible and not having all these disparate names,'' said Tuna Amobi, a New York-based analyst with Standard & Poor's...

A little history on the name Buena Vista: (It is, of course, the street on which the Disney studio has resided since late 1939.) In 1953, Disney left the warm embrace of RKO pictures -- owned by Howard Hughes but still dying a slow death -- which had distributed Disney shorts and features since 1936.

And before that, Disney product had been distributed by United Artists... until Walt and Roy got into a tiff with Doug Fairbanks', Mary Pickford's and Charlie Chaplin's movie company over television rights.

Prior to UA (we're talking 1928-29), Disney was distributed by Columbia Pictures, then run by the bull-necked Harry Cohn. But the Columbia-Disney distribution partnership was short-lived:

Disney and Cohn the vulgarian spoke different languages. Cohn mistook [Disney's] sensitivity for weakness. Curdely, and stupidly, he badgered and bulldozed until he lost Hollywood's richest gold mine. [Disney] took his enchanting films to RKO for distribution. And later, as all true geiuses must, Walt established his own production and distribution set-up...

Frank Capra, Frank Capra, the Name Above the Title, pp. 104-105.

So goodbye, Buena Vista Distribution. It was swell knowing you.


Anonymous said...

"Leverage the brand"?
There's absolutely NO point to doing this. If the corporate honchos really think that people sitting in the theatre give a tinker's damn--after all the trailers, commericals, various production company logos, etc.etc.etc. they have to sit through to get to the opening shot--they're so far out of touch with a REAL paying customer that there's no hope.

Well, I guess I answered my own question.

RIP Buena Vista--it was pretty while it lasted. God knows that we can't continue confusing the fans with a non-Disney name among the divisions.

Anonymous said...

Whatever. Who the hell actually has a problem with this? Who in their right mind has any nostagia for the words "Buena Vista"??

Let em call it what it is--Disney Distribution. A little simplifying is actually a good thing.

Steve Hulett said...

Personally, I don't think it makes fifteen cents worth of difference either way.

But it was a nice hook to do some Disney history.

Anonymous said...

Well, if it doesn't make any difference--WHY CHANGE IT?

I'm calling the reasoning--which will cost plenty money, I'm sure. for the Company to "change" and which will mean that someone will actually get some sort of corporate "credit" for figuring out the amazing! idea! that "Buena Vista", a distribution arm of the WDC, isn't called "Disney" distribution...well, I'm calling it dumb.

Hope that's okay and it doesn't make any weary websurfers grind their teeth into a powder.

Andy Norton said...

This is such a shame, as that was one of the most memorable, in my opinion, of distribution companies, mainly because of its worldwide branches for theatrical and home video entertainment.

This was probably one of the last legacies of Uncle Walt left-his studios has gone under conglomerate management many years after his death. This is such a shame.

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