Walt Disney Pictures

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Walt Disney Pictures
FounderWalt Disney
Roy O. Disney
Area served
Key people
Sean Bailey (president, production)[1]
ProductsMotion pictures
ParentWalt Disney Studios
(The Walt Disney Company)

Walt Disney Pictures[2] is an American film studio and a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, owned by The Walt Disney Company. The subsidiary is the main producer of live-action feature films within the Walt Disney Studios unit, and is based at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. It took on its current name in 1983. Today, in conjunction with the other units of Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Pictures is regarded as one of Hollywood's "Big Six" film studios.[3][4] Films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar are also released under this brand.

Pirates of the Caribbean is the studio's most successful franchise, with two of its sequels, released in 2006 and 2011, earning over $1 billion in worldwide box office gross.[5]


The studio's predecessor (and the modern-day The Walt Disney Company's as a whole) was founded as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, by filmmaker Walt Disney and his business partner and brother, Roy, in 1923.

The creation of Mickey Mouse and subsequent short films and merchandise generated revenue for the studio which was renamed as The Walt Disney Studio at the Hyperion Studio in 1926.[6] In 1929, it was renamed again to Walt Disney Productions. The studio's streak of success continued in the 1930s, culminating with the 1937 release of the first feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which becomes a huge financial success.[7] With the profits from Snow White, Walt relocated to a third studio in Burbank, California.[8]

In the 1940s, Disney began experimenting with full-length live-action films, with the introduction of hybrid live action-animated films such as The Reluctant Dragon (1941) and Song of the South (1946).[9] That same decade, the studio began producing nature documentaries with the release of Seal Island (1948), the first of the True-Life Adventures series and a subsequent Academy Award winner for Best Live-Action Short Film.[10][11]


Walt Disney Productions had its first fully live-action film in 1950 with the release of Treasure Island, considered by Disney to be the official conception for what would eventually evolve into the modern-day Walt Disney Pictures.[12] By 1953, the company ended their agreements with such third-party distributors as RKO Radio Pictures and United Artists and formed their own distribution company, Buena Vista Distribution.[13]

Walt Disney Pictures[edit]

The division was incorporated as Walt Disney Pictures on April 1, 1983 to diversify film subjects and expand audiences for their film releases.[2] In April 1983, Richard Berger was hired by Disney CEO Ron W. Miller as film president. Touchstone Films was started by Miller in February 1984 as a label for their PG-rated films with an expected half of Disney's yearly 6-to-8-movie slate, which would be released under the label.[14] Berger was pushed out as a new CEO was appointed for Walt Disney Productions later in 1984, as Michael Eisner brought his own film chief, Jeffrey Katzenberg.[15] Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures were formed within that unit on February 15, 1984 and February 1, 1989 respectively.[16]

The Touchstone Films banner was used by then new Disney CEO Michael Eisner in the 1984–85 television season with the short lived western, Wildside. In the next season, Touchstone produced a hit in The Golden Girls.[17]

David Hoberman was promoted to president of production at Walt Disney Pictures in April 1988.[18] In April 1994, Hoberman was promoted to president of motion pictures at Walt Disney Studios and was replaced as Disney president by David Vogel.[19] Vogel added the position of Hollywood Pictures in 1997, then was promoted in 1998 to head up all live action motion picture units as president of Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group.[20]


After two movies-based-on-ride by other Disney units,[21][22][23] Walt Disney Pictures selected it as a source of a line of films[24] starting with The Country Bears (2002) and two in 2003, The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The latter film launched a film series that was followed by four sequels, with the franchise taking in more than $5.4 billion worldwide from 2003 to 2017.[21][25]

In 2010, Sean Bailey was appointed the studio's president of live-action production.[1] Under Bailey's leadership and with support from Disney CEO Bob Iger—and later Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn—Walt Disney Pictures pursued a tentpole film strategy, which included an expanded slate of original and adaptive large-budget films. The studio found particular success with live-action fantasy adaptations of their animated films, which began with the commercial success of Alice in Wonderland (2010), that became the second billion-dollar-grossing film in the studio's history.[26] Concurrently, Disney was struggling with PG-13 tentpole films outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, with films such as John Carter (2012) and The Lone Ranger (2013) becoming major box office bombs. With the continued success of Maleficent (2014) and Cinderella (2015), the studio saw the potential in these fantasy and literary adaptations and officiated a trend of similar films, which followed with The Jungle Book (2016) and Beauty and the Beast (2017).[27][1] By July 2016, Disney had announced development of nearly eighteen of these films consisting of sequels to existing adaptations, origin stories and prequels.[27][27] Disney identified this line as "Disney Fairy Tale" in its enlarged slate announcement on October 8, 2015 with four scheduled without titles attached.[28] Despite the renewed focus on tentpole films, the studio continued to produce successful smaller-budgeted films, such as The Muppets (2011), Saving Mr. Banks (2013), and Into the Woods (2014).[1]

Walt Disney Pictures also took another push at theme park attraction-adaptations in the 2010s.[5] Tomorrowland, first to be loosely based on a theme park area,[29] was released in 2015.[24] Additional announced films have included adaptations of Haunted Mansion,[24] Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, [30] It's a Small World,[31] Tower of Terror, and Jungle Cruise.[32]


Until 1985, instead of a traditional production logo, the opening credits of Disney films used to feature a title card that read "Walt Disney Presents", and later, "Walt Disney Productions Presents". In Never Cry Wolf, and the pre-release versions of Splash, it showed a light blue rectangle with the name "Walt Disney Pictures" and featured a white outline rectangle framing on a black screen.

Beginning with the release of The Black Cauldron on July 24, 1985, Walt Disney Pictures introduced its fantasy castle logo.[33] The logo was created by Walt Disney Feature Animation in traditional animation and featured a white silhouette of Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle against a blue background, with the studio's name and underscored by "When You Wish Upon A Star".[34] A short rendition of the logo was used as a closing logo as well as the movie Return to Oz, although the film was months before The Black Cauldron was released. Beginning with Dinosaur (2000), an alternative logo featuring an orange castle and logo against a black background, was occasionally presented with darker tone and live-action films. A computer-animated variant appeared before every Pixar Animation Studios film from Toy Story until Ratatouille, featuring an original fanfare composed by Randy Newman.

In 2006, the logo was updated with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest at the behest of then-Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook and studio marketing president Oren Aviv.[34] Designed by Disney animation director Mike Gabriel and producer Baker Bloodworth, the modernized logo was created completely in computer animation by Weta Digital and yU+co and featured a redesigned 3D Waltograph typography. The final rendering of the logo was done by Cameron Smith and Cyrese Parrish.[35] In addition, the revamped logo includes visual references to Pinocchio, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, and Cinderella, and its redesigned castle incorporates elements from both Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella Castle, as well as Walt Disney's family crest. Mark Mancina wrote a new composition and arrangement of "When You Wish upon a Star" to accompany the 2006 logo.[34] Beginning with the release of The Muppets on November 23, 2011, the sequence was modified to truncate the "Walt Disney Pictures" branding to "Disney".[36]


The studio's first live-action film was Treasure Island (1950). Animated films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar are also released by Walt Disney Pictures. The studio has released four films that have received an Academy Award for Best Picture nomination: Mary Poppins (1964), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Up (2009), and Toy Story 3 (2010).[37]

Highest-grossing films[edit]

Walt Disney Pictures has produced four films that have grossed over $1 billion at the worldwide box office: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), and Beauty and the Beast (2017);[1] and has released five animated films that have reached that milestone: Toy Story 3 (2010), Frozen (2013), Zootopia, Finding Dory (both 2016), and Incredibles 2 (2018).

Highest-grossing films in North America[38]
Rank Title Year Box office gross
1 Incredibles 2 2018 $601,022,913
2 Beauty and the Beast 2017 $504,014,165
3 Finding Dory 2016 $486,131,416
4 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 2006 $423,315,812
5 The Lion King 1994 $422,783,777
6 Toy Story 3 2010 $415,004,880
7 Frozen 2013 $400,738,009
8 Finding Nemo 2003 $380,843,261
9 The Jungle Book 2016 $364,001,123
10 Inside Out 2015 $356,002,827
11 Zootopia 2016 $341,268,248
12 Alice in Wonderland 2010 $334,191,110
13 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End 2007 $309,420,425
14 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl 2003 $305,413,918
15 Up 2009 $293,004,164
16 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005 $291,710,957
17 Monsters, Inc. 2001 $289,916,256
18 Toy Story 2 1999 $276,554,625
19 Monsters University 2013 $268,492,764
20 The Incredibles 2004 $261,441,092
21 Moana 2016 $247,650,255
22 Cars 2006 $244,082,982
23 Maleficent 2014 $241,410,378
24 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2011 $241,071,802
25 Brave 2012 $237,283,207
Highest-grossing films worldwide
Rank Title Year Box office gross
1 Frozen 2013 $1,279,852,693
2 Beauty and the Beast 2017 $1,263,521,126
3 Incredibles 2 2018 $1,209,195,470
4 Toy Story 3 2010 $1,067,171,911
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 2006 $1,066,179,725
6 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2011 $1,045,713,802
7 Finding Dory 2016 $1,025,473,532
8 Alice in Wonderland 2010 $1,025,467,110
9 Zootopia 2016 $1,023,641,447
10 The Lion King 1994 $968,483,777
11 The Jungle Book 2016 $964,062,422
12 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End 2007 $963,420,425
13 Finding Nemo 2003 $940,335,536
14 Inside Out 2015 $851,175,046
15 Coco 2017 $805,839,032
16 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales 2017 $791,726,541
17 Maleficent 2014 $758,410,378
18 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005 $745,013,115
19 Monsters University 2013 $744,229,437
20 Up 2009 $735,099,082
21 Big Hero 6 2014 $657,827,828
22 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl 2003 $654,264,015
23 Moana 2016 $643,034,466
24 The Incredibles 2004 $633,019,734
25 Tangled 2010 $591,794,936

—Includes theatrical reissue(s).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Jr, Mike Fleming (March 21, 2017). "Sean Bailey On How Disney's Live-Action Division Found Its 'Beauty And The Beast' Mojo". Deadline. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Business Entity Detail: Walt Disney Pictures (search on Entity Number: C1138747)". California Business Search. California Secretary of State. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  3. ^ Schatz, Tom. The Studio System and Conglomerate Hollywood (PDF). Blackwell Publishing. Disney also exploited new technologies and delivery systems, creating synergies that were altogether unique among the studios, and that finally enabled the perpetual “mini-major” to ascend to major studio status.
  4. ^ Finler (2003), The Hollywood Story pp. 324–25.
  5. ^ a b Jr, Mike Fleming (March 21, 2017). "Sean Bailey On How Disney's Live-Action Division Found Its 'Beauty And The Beast' Mojo". Deadline. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  6. ^ "Chronology of the Walt Disney Company (1926)". kpolsson.com.
  7. ^ Gabler, Neal (2007). Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. New York: Random House. pp. 276–277. ISBN 0-679-75747-3.
  8. ^ Schroeder, Russel (1996). Walt Disney: His Life in Pictures. New York: Disney Press.
  9. ^ "The Walt Disney Company History". Company Profiles. fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  10. ^ "The Best of Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures (1975)". NY Times Movies. New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  11. ^ "New York Times: Seal Island". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  12. ^ "The Walt Disney Studios". Disney Corporate. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  13. ^ Fixmer, Fixmer (April 25, 2007). "Disney to Drop Buena Vista Brand Name, People Say (Update1)". Bloomberg. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  14. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (February 16, 1984). "Touchstone Label to Replace Disney Name on Some Films". New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  15. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (December 2, 1988). "COMPANY NEWS; Disney Expansion Set; Film Output to Double". New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  16. ^ Kunz, William M. (2007). "2". Culture Conglomerates: Consolidation in the Motion Picture and Television Industries. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 42, 45. ISBN 9780742540668. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  17. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 9, 2007). "Touchstone TV now ABC TV Studio". The Hollywood Reporter. AP. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  18. ^ "PEOPLE: Los Angeles County". Los Angeles Times. April 13, 1988. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  19. ^ Welkos, Robert W.; Bates, James (January 11, 1995). "Disney Live Action Film Chief Quits : Studios: Hoberman's departure is a further dismantling of the former Katzenberg team". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
  20. ^ "David Vogel to Exit From Post as President of Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group" (Press release). Disney Studios. Business Wire. May 3, 1999. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  21. ^ a b Bacle, Ariana (April 23, 2014). "Theme park ride-based movies: Will 'Small World' follow the trend?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  22. ^ "Disney Sets ABC Pix". Variety. May 1, 1997. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  23. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (March 17, 2000). "Mission to Mars". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  24. ^ a b c Breznican, Anthony (January 28, 2013). "Disney's mysterious '1952' movie has a new name ... 'Tomorrowland'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  25. ^ McNary, Dave; Graser, Marc (September 19, 2013). "End of an Era: Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Part Ways". Variety. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  26. ^ Kit, Borys (July 6, 2015). "Disney Buys Live-Action Prince Charming Project". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 20, 2017. Disney pioneered the recent and lucrative trend of taking either old animated classics or fairy tales and spinning them into live-action features.
  27. ^ a b c Oswald, Anjelica; Acuna, Kirsten (July 19, 2016). "Disney is planning 18 live-action remakes of its classic animated movies — here they all are". Business Insider. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  28. ^ Hipes, Patrick (October 8, 2015). "Disney: 'Ant Man And The Wasp' A Go, 'Incredibles 2' Dated & More". Deadline. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  29. ^ Kirshenblat, Eliana (2015-10-23). "Disney's New Tower of Terror Movie Seeking a Writer". Screenrant.com. Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  30. ^ Tully, Sarah (January 28, 2013). "Is 'Tomorrowland' movie tied to Disneyland area?". Orange County Register. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  31. ^ Fleming, Mike (April 22, 2014). "Disney To Make 'It's A Small World' Movie: Jon Turteltaub To Direct". Deadline.com. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
  32. ^ "'Tower Of Terror' Getting Movie Treatment; Venerable Disney Theme Park Fright Ride". Deadline. Penske Business Media, LLC. October 23, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  33. ^ Guerrasio, Jason (June 22, 2015). "Why the iconic Walt Disney Pictures logo was changed for 'Tomorrowland'". Businesses Insider. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  34. ^ a b c "Old Disney magic in new animated logo". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 18, 2006. Retrieved July 10, 2006.
  35. ^ "Behance". www.behance.net. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  36. ^ Walker, RV (March 28, 2015). "The Disney Logo: A Brief History of its Evolution and Variations". Nerdist Industries. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  37. ^ Tribou, Richard (January 16, 2014). "Not-so-golden year for Disney's chances at the Oscars". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  38. ^ "Box Office by Studio – Disney All Time". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 27, 2016.

External links[edit]