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January 19, 2006

Disney May Buy Pixar

Courtesy of TechWeb News

A wedding ceremony between Snow White and Nemo for viewing on Apple iPods may be in the works if talks between Pixar's Steve Jobs and the Walt Disney Co. result in the entertainment giant acquiring Pixar Animation Studios, as reported.

Jobs is chairman and chief executive officer of Pixar and chief executive officer of Apple.

While rumors of some sort of alliance between Disney and Pixar have circulated for several weeks, Talks between Pixar and Disney are at a serious stage, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Jobs had clashed with Disney's previous management, but current Disney CEO Robert Iger has forged a good relationship with the leader of Pixar and Apple, the newspaper said. Disney TV shows including "Desperate Housewives" have been approved for downloading on Apple's iPods in recent weeks.

Both Pixar and Disney produce animated films. Disney's hand-drawn "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs" remains a classic in the company's library while Pixar's films including "Finding Nemo" and "The Incredibles" have pioneered the computer-animated genre.

Pixar and Disney have a co-production agreement which calls for Pixar to develop and produce computer-animated feature films to be marketed and distributed by Disney. Pixar is working to complete the remaining picture under the agreement, Cars. Cars is slated for release on June 9.

Jobs nurtured Pixar over the years from its status as a relatively small start-up bought from Lucasfilm Ltd. two decades ago. Over the years he has helped turn it into an entertainment giant in its own right.

At current stock market pricing, Jobs' 50.6 percent stake of Pixar would be worth nearly $3.5 billion. Jobs' Apple stake is worth less than $900 million. A successful deal between Pixar and Disney could result in Jobs becoming Disney's largest stockholder, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal noted that the talks might not be conclusive. Another possibility is that the talks could result in a distribution agreement between Pixar and Disney.

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Apple posted this week its first-ever full-length movie -- the made-for-TV Disney Channel original movie "High School Musical" -- on iTunes for the price of $9.99. What do you think of this pricing for downloadable movies?
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