Eisner digs digital doings

Co. 'testing' tech expansions, using TV as film farmland

HOLLYWOOD — Disney topper Michael Eisner tubthumped the Mouse House’s digital doings and other content initiatives at an investors’ conference in Gotham on Wednesday.

Disposable DVDs, video-on-demand and Web-delivered movies rep new potential ways of exploiting conglom’s movie library, he said.

“All of them may be stupid, but the point is we’re testing different ways of getting to the consumer,” Eisner quipped.

Head Mouseketeer also cited high-tech moves, including the delivery of digital content to advance cell phone systems in Japan and Europe and the creation of a Pal Mickey product to act as a tour guide for kids visiting Mouse’s four domestic theme parks. But Eisner didn’t neglect core filmmaking activities.

“No matter how far we go down this digital path, Disney will always be a content-driven company,” he stressed.

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Addressing a group of investment professionals at the Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown Entertainment Day Conference at Gotham’s Pierre Hotel, Eisner said the conglom’s currently “focused on turning the Disney Channel into a franchise-making machine.”

“The Lizzie McGuire Movie,” a recently unspooled bigscreen adaptation of the Disney Channel show, will produce a 31% return on investment, he estimated. Eisner made no mention of the recent fallout with “Lizzie” star Hilary Duff over money issues.

Mouse is mulling possible other channel spinoffs, he noted, including a movie based on channel’s “Raven Baxter” character and on the cartoon skein “Kim Possible.”

Elsewhere in movie development, Eisner said work is under way on a sequel to last year’s family toon “Lilo & Stitch.” A “Lilo” TV show and theme park attraction are also planned.

Topper acknowledged that many of conglom’s digital initiatives are only beginning to take shape. But he expressed optimism over their collective benefit to future Mouse profits.

“At this point there is no way to quantify the bottom-line value of any of these initiatives, but we believe cumulatively they will add up,” Eisner said.