DISNEY CLEANS UP
Wholesomeness once again paid off bigtime for the Walt Disney Co., which saw its revenue climb 9 percent to $10.45 billion in its last quarter compared to $9.58 billion a year ago. Disney said that the rise was due in great measure to the overwhelming popularity of its Disney Channel favorites, Hannah Montana and High School Musical II. Earnings rose 29 percent when one-time gains of a year ago, including the sale of Disney's stake in E! Entertainment and Us Weekly, were excluded. Announcement of the quarterly results came as Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour 3-D film was setting box-office records. Speaking with analysts, Disney CEO Robert Iger said, "Its impressive performance highlights our mission perfectly." He pointed out that a Hanna Montana soundtrack CD sold 8 million copies, that a Miley Cyrus concert tour was an immediate sell-out, and that video games based on the character sold more than 1.7 million units. Only Disney's movie business reported lower income during the quarter, as DVD sales of its hit movies Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Ratatouille came in 9 percent below Disney films released on DVD a year ago. In early trading today (Wednesday) Disney shares were up more than 5 percent.
SLOWING ECONOMY NOT SLOWING DISNEY PARKS, SAYS DISNEY CFO
Following warnings from analysts that the current weakening economy could result in people cutting back on entertainment expenses -- and in particular, on expensive visits to theme parks, the Walt Disney Co. said Thursday that thus far it has seen no sign of such retrenchment. Disney CFO Tom Staggs said Tuesday that business at the company's theme parks and resort hotels is running "modestly ahead" of last year. Some observers have suggested that while American visitors may have elected to cut back on visits to Walt Disney World and Disneyland, foreign visitors, taking advantage of the weak dollar, are descending on the parks in droves.
APPLE UPGRADES IPHONES TO HOLD MORE MOVIES
In an apparent effort to make more room for "rented" movies downloaded from Disney's iTunes online store, Apple has expanded the storage capacity of its iPhone and the iPod Touch. The Touch now provides a maximum of 32 GB on select models; the iPhone will offer as much as 16 GB. Announcement of the product enhancements failed to impress Wall Street, where Apple closed Tuesday's trading down nearly 2 percent. Nevertheless, in early trading today (Wednesday), Apple shares had recovered most of their losses.
THE VANITY FAIR PARTY'S OVER
Regardless of whether the Oscars' presentation is staged as usual this year, there will be one less A-list celebrity party. Vanity Fair magazine said that it was canceling its annual post-Oscars party, saying it was doing so "in support of the writers and everyone else affected by this strike." In an interview with today's (Wednesday) New York Times, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter said, ""A magazine like Vanity Fair is a group of writers and artists, and we are in solidarity with the writers and artists out there. ... Whether the strike is over or not, there are a lot of bruised feelings. I don't think it's appropriate for a big magazine from the East to come in and pretend nothing happened."
PEOPLE HAPPY WITH DVD, NOT LIKELY TO SWITCH TO HI-DEF, SAYS STUDY
Relatively few consumers are planning to make the transition from DVDs to high-definition HD DVD or Blu-ray, according to a survey by NPD Group. The researchers said that among owners of HDTV sets, seven out of 10 say they see no need to purchase high-definition players, maintaining that they are satisfied with the quality of their current players. "one of the main challenges for the next-generation" format, NPD Group senior entertainment industry analyst Russ Crupnick told Bloomberg News, "is you have a product out there that is pretty darn good in consumers' eyes."
MAHARISHI MAHESH YOGI DIES AT 91
The celebrity guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi died Tuesday in the Netherlands at age 91. The "Reesh," as his celebrity followers sometimes called him, launched the worldwide Transcendental Meditation movement in the 1960s and eventually drew the Beatles, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, Clint Eastwood and 60s singer Donovan among his followers.