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‘Alice’ boosts Disney earnings

3D pic adds to Mouse House profits by 55%

“Alice in Wonderland” enchanted the Walt Disney Co.’s second-quarter, with the strong box office performance of the 3D pic helping boost profits at the Mouse House by 55% during the last three months.

The company’s improved bottomline was also a result of across-the-board cost-cutting and layoffs that took place last year, considering overall revenue for the company rose just 6% to $8.6 billion. Profits came in at $953 million.

The studio, in particular, showed signs of a resurgence, after stumbling with “Race to Witch Mountain” and “Confessions of a Shopaholic” during the same period in 2009.

“Alice’s” $960 million worldwide haul enabled the Walt Disney Studios to post $210 million in profits. Last year, it earned just $13 million. Division’s revenue rose 7% to come in at $1.5 billion, as a result, enabling the studio to stress the importance of backing recognizable tentpole fare at the megaplex that can rub off on the company’s various other divisions.

“Iron Man 2” should prove the first pic to considerably contribute to Disney’s warchest after the Mouse House acquired Marvel. But the company isn’t expected to benefit from “Iron Man 2″‘s B.O. until the end of the current quarter.

“The incredible box office performance of Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and acquisition of Marvel, whose ‘Iron Man 2’ has grossed $334 million in global box office in its first two weeks, clearly show the benefits of investing in high quality branded content,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO, the Walt Disney Co. in a statement. “With the economy showing signs of improvement, we’re confident our strategy is the right one to provide consumers the best in entertainment while building long-term value for our shareholders.”

Television, Disney’s biggest moneymaker, dialed in a 6% boost in revenue of $3.8 billion for the period, but profits remained flat at $1.3 billion.

Profits at Disney’s cable networks, which include the Disney Channel and ESPN, increased by $39 million to $1.2 billion, mostly because of higher affiliate and advertising dollars; ESPN bowed a new network in the U.K. during the period.

But profits fell $39 million to $123 million on the broadcasting side, driven down by a loss in advertising revenue and higher costs to produce ABC Studios’ shows.

Revenue at Disney’s theme park division remained flat at $2.4 billion. Park attendance and hotel bookings were down during the post holiday period, but visitors spent more on merchandise and food at the parks, helping offset any declines. Attendance at Hong Kong Disneyland also was up.

Still, profits fell 12% to $150 million, sinking mostly because of higher fuel costs and promotional costs to tubthump the Disney Cruise Line, and fewer visitors to Disneyland Paris.

The addition of Marvel comicbooks and the rollout of a new line of “Toy Story” merchandise helped the consumer products arm increase revenue by 20% to $596 million and profits 37% to $133 million.

Higher Club Penguin subscriptions and lower videogame production costs also helped boost revenue at the interactive division by 20% to $155 million, which helped lower losses by 10% to $55 million.

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