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What would Walt Disney say about Disney today?

Hollywood Behind the Scenes

By Stanley Isaacs

The first studio deal I made to write and produce a motion picture was at the Walt Disney Company –  and  Walt’s imprint on the studio he created was so indelible that almost any time anyone would ask a question, the response was almost always began with  – “What would Walt do?”

A comment that always perplexed me as Walt had already been dead for 15 years at the time.

Walt Disney, 1901-1966

In those days, ca 1981, the Disney amusement parks were doing well. But the studio, under Ron Miller’s management, was not doing well at all.

Ron Miller, former CEO of Disney, was Walt Disney’s son-in-law.

With poor box office performances from films such as, Condorman, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Midnight Madness and The Devil and Max Devlin, many in the industry questioned the fate of the studio’s future.

Over the years, board rooms changed, family members squabbled, studio executives came and went and the studio had hits and misses. But I doubt there was anyone who could foresee that over the ensuing decades, Walt Disney would become the most dominant force in motion picture entertainment.

Flash forward to 2018 and look no further than Black Panther and its record breaking dominance at the box office, both domestically and internationally, to confirm the fact.

Black Panther has become the top-grossing superhero film of all time in North America, [not accounting for inflation] and, at $1.25 billion [as of March 29, 2018] ranks as the No. 3 superhero title of all time at the worldwide box office – behind Avengers ($1.52 billion) and Avengers: Age of Ultron ($1.41 billion), also Disney/ Marvel productions.

Black Panther is also, as of now, the 12th highest-grossing film in history and is unprecedented in being a big-budget studio tentpole — featuring a virtually all-black cast.

Putting aside Walt Disney’s original creations, Mickey, Donald, Goofy and scores of other beloved characters, ownership of its parks and resorts, and ABC Television, during the tenure of CEO Bob Iger (2000-to present], Disney broadened its company’s roster of intellectual properties and its presence in international markets.

Bob Iger

Iger oversaw the acquisition of  Pixar in 2006 for $7.4 B, Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for $4 B, Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.06 B.

And now there’s the soon-to-be acquisition of most of 20th Century Fox’s film and television assets. Once that deal finalizes, the Disney company will be unstoppable.

Disney’s motion picture business now commands more than 32% of the theatrical market share — more than double its next closest rival Sony, which has 14%.

The man at the top of the mountain, Bob Iger stands to be richly rewarded for his decision to postpone his retirement to 2021, according to a new analysis of his compensation package.

In return for extending his contract through 2021 – provided that all performance maximums are met – Iger’s potential payout stands at more than $423M – more than 3 1/2 times the $117M Walt spent to build Disneyland in 1955. Even adjusting for inflation, Iger’s one year salary stands to be more than 40 percent of the cost of building the iconic and landmark park.

What would Walt say indeed?!

People running to Disneyland castle at Disneyland Amusement Park.






About the author

Stanley Isaacs

Stanley Isaacs is an award-winning filmmaker, preservationist and educator. He has written, produced and directed a wide range of film and television projects in a career that spans nearly four decades. He is the founder and CEO of 100% Entertainment, Inc. (, an independent production company and The Film History Preservation Project, (, a multi-award-winning documentary series, whose Mission Statement is to preserve cinema history by enshrining a legacy of priceless stories and insights from legendary producers that can be studied and appreciated for generations, by film buffs, fans, students, preservationists and historians around the world.

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  • GoodnessI met Walt at Pebble in 1991. John deBoer had put together a “not-for-judging display of Siata variants and wanted my 300BC, just coming back together after a serious mechanical failure and incident at Sears Point four years previously. Of course the 208S was red back Siata was, and remainsa startlingly similar blue to what is now on SN CS071 now! But Walt now needs to trade in that red jacket for something more appropriate to the color of the car (my racing suit is white over blue, to contrast to my son Adin”s all blue so corner workers will know who is in the car). Walt”s 208 is just gorgeousof course I love the color!