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Cars Delayed

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 11:35 AM

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Pixar Delays Its Next Film 'Cars' to 2006

December 7, 2004

AP Online

LOS ANGELES -- Pixar Animation Studios will delay the release of its next film, "Cars," until June 2006 as it switches from a holiday release schedule to releasing films during the summer when more children are at home.

Pixar and The Walt Disney Co., which co-finances and distributes the films, said Tuesday that "Cars" would be moved from its planned November 2005 release date, creating an 18-month gap during which no new Pixar film will be in theaters.

Pixar films, such as "The Incredibles," which has already earned $226 million after five weeks in theaters, are an important source of revenue for Disney, which keeps half the box office take, plus a distribution fee. Disney also keeps half the revenue from the home video release of the films.

The theatrical release of its films also provides the largest single source of income for Pixar, which also sees spikes in revenue after the home video release of its movies and steady, although lower, income through the year from video releases of older films and software sales.

Pixar shares fell $1.13, or a little over 1 percent, during regular trading on the Nasdaq. In after hours trading after the news was announced, Pixar shares fell $3.46, or 3.8 percent to $87.60.

Shares of Disney were down 22 cents to $27.10 at the end of regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Last month, Pixar chief executive Steve Jobs told analysts that the company was contemplating a switch to summer releases in part because children are out of school during the summer. A summer theatrical release also means the home video will be released during the holiday season, when people are looking to buy gifts.

"'Cars' longs to be a summer movie," Jobs said in a statement Tuesday. "We plan to finish 'Cars' on its original schedule and look forward to 'Cars' and our future films benefiting by summer theatrical releases and holiday DVD releases."

"Cars" is the last film in a five-picture deal between Pixar and Disney. Pixar is already working on its next, as yet untitled, film, which was set to be released in 2006, but will be pushed back to 2007.

The delay also gives Pixar more time to negotiate a new distribution deal with another studio. Likely contenders include Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox.

Last month, Jobs said he was waiting to conduct serious talks on a new deal until after Disney announces a successor to chief executive Michael Eisner. Jobs said the announcement, due next June, would trigger a game of musical chairs among studio executives.

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