When Bob Iger was made the CEO of The Walt Disney Company in 2005 it was in a weird place as an entertainment monolith but after some key decisions under his leadership they would become an unstoppable juggernaut that we know now. Under Iger’s tenure Disney would fully acquire not only Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm for roughly $4 billion each, he was the man that spearheaded the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by Disney. None of that would have been possible however had he not made a gamble just a few months into starting his job as CEO after he made the aquisition of Pixar animation studios.
“I’m proud of a lot of the decisions that were made,” Iger said in an interview with CNBC‘s David Faber for “Squawk on the Street.” “Certainly, the acquisitions – I’d say of all of them – Pixar, because it was the first. And it put us on the path to achieving what I wanted to achieve, which is scale when it comes to storytelling. That was probably the best….What I wanted to do more than anything is, I wanted to send a signal to everybody at Disney that it was a new day, that we were more open-minded about expansion, in particular about partnerships. That creativity was the most important strategy for the company. And Pixar, at that point, exemplified original storytelling and quality and creativity at in its highest form.”
A quick history lesson for those that may not know. Pixar was initially a part of Lucasfilm before George Lucas spun it off into its own company, thanks in part to a large amount of funding from Apple’s Steve Jobs, with co-founders Edwin Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith along for the ride from the beginning. The studio chugged along for many decades doing special effects work and eventually began working hand in hand with Disney Animation Studios during their big 1990s Renaissance. The success of this relationship resulted in the partnership between Pixar and Disney that began with Toy Story and carried on for many years, at a time when they were so successful that many already assumed that Pixar was a part of Disney.
Just two months into his time as CEO Iger revealed that Disney would be acquiring Pixar for $7.4 billion, almost double what the company would pay for Marvel or Lucasfilm. Prior to the acquisition, Pixar’s films had brought in just over $3.3 billion at the global box office, with Disney’s acquisition allowing them to expand productions and release even more movies per year. Since Pixar was acquired their films have brought in over $11.3 billion worldwide. Disney has also no doubt managed to bring in countless merchandising from all of their Pixar films, not to mention the theme park rides.