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Inside Move: Mouse, Pixar may draw up deal after all

CEO-elect Iger upbeat over possible deal

Lately, Pixar and Disney seem to be making nice.

Relatively speaking.

The word from Disney prexy and CEO-elect Bob Iger, speaking at the Deutsche Bank conference in New York on Tuesday, is that the studio and Pixar are talking again about a new distribution deal.

“We’ve opened up talks again with Pixar,” Iger said.

The partnership between the two is skedded to end after the release of Pixar’s next feature, “Cars,” in summer 2006, and Pixar had announced plans to seek a different partner.

“We’d certainly like to figure out a way to continue to do business with them,” said Iger. “I think that’s mutual. We’ve gotten to understand the issues that are most important to both sides.”

Iger has made it a priority to restart talks with Pixar after negotiations broke down last year. Disney felt that Pixar’s financial demands were exorbitant, and bad blood developed between top management at the two companies, especially Pixar CEO Steve Jobs and Disney topper Michael Eisner.

Those tensions were exacerbated when Disney announced plans to go ahead with “Toy Story 3” and other sequels to Pixar films.

Both Iger and Jobs have hinted at a thaw in the companies’ relationship over the last few months. Iger said last month that the companies had had “informal talks,” and the Pixar CEO said last month, “I’ve been getting to know (Iger) a little bit, and he seems like a terrific guy. If they come wanting to strike a new deal, we’ll see how things go.”

On Monday Jobs told CNBC that he had had “some great discussions with Bob Iger” and that he hoped to resume serious negotiations “within the next month or two.”

Jobs has said that he wants a deal in place by the end of the year with Pixar’s next partner, whether it’s Disney or someone else.

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