Disney: ‘Toy’ time in 2008

Third installment will be the first produced without Pixar

NEW YORK — Disney Consumer Products chair Andy Mooney said Tuesday that “Toy Story 3” is projected for a summer 2008 release.

The third installment of the animated franchise will be the first produced by Disney without Pixar, which originated the saga of a boy’s toys that have lives and adventures of their own.

Disney and Pixar broke off talks about renewing their distribution deal last year but have recently begun preliminary negotiations again. The deal expires with “Cars,” set for release next summer.

If Pixar and Disney cannot agree a new contract, Disney retains sequel rights for the previously completed pics.

The “Toy 3” release news came in a presentation at the Licensing Intl. trade show in Gotham, during which Mooney focused on conglom’s products push.

Mooney revised DCP’s 2004 retail sales figure to $18 billion, up from its “quite conservative” estimate of $15 billion. DCP is forecasting $21 billion in sales for 2005, $3 billion of which will be from the Disney Princess line, which includes Cinderella, Snow White and other animated ingenues.

Disney Princess line has grown 300% over the last three years, and the 2005 projection would be a 40% rise from the previous year. Sales will be goosed by the first DVD release of “Cinderella” this October.

Mooney also emphasized DCP’s push to attract males with the release of Pixar’s “Cars” and the continuation of the “Toy Story” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchises. The sequel to “Pirates,” subtitled “Dead Man’s Chest” and set for summer 2006 release, is being promoted via ubiquitous large banner ads at the Licensing show.

Banners also hype Disney’s December release “The Chronicles of Narnia,” which Mooney also pushed.

Franchise fork

Mooney said CEO-elect Bob Iger and his exec team have split franchises into two categories to better prioritize them.

The “companywide” franchises, such as Mickey Mouse, Toy Story, Winnie the Pooh, Power Rangers and Disney Princess, will be developed by the entire conglom. The “multidivisional” franchises, such as the Muppets, Baby Einstein and Disney Channel’s “That’s So Raven,” will be confined to certain divisions.

Mooney also said Disney ceased negotiating with possible buyers of the Disney stores in Europe last week and will continue to operate them “for the foreseeable future.” He added that the stores have been profitable for five years and have been less of a burden than the U.S. outlets, most of which were sold to the Children’s Place.

Asked about the possibility of Disney licensing films from Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio that produced the new Disney-distribbed pic “Howl’s Moving Castle,” Mooney said Disney does not have the rights to the studio’s properties but that “it’s something we would very much like to entertain.”

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