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Thoughts on a Visit to the San Francisco Walt Disney Company Shareholders Meeting (Guest Blog by Roger Colton)

Hi everyone!

Today we have a guest blog, by Roger Colton. He attended the Walt Disney Company Shareholders Meeting and had some thoughts on it. Thanks to Roger for writing this up!

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 saw the annual shareholders meeting of the Walt Disney Company come to the City by the Bay. Since the 2009 meeting across the Bay in Oakland, one would have to say that shareholder value has increased at a steady pace.

Over the years of the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel and Lucas have all proven to be in the best interests of the overall company with successes in the motion picture, theme park and consumer products divisions all directly relatable to those companies. Being that Pixar and Lucas are in the area, it made good sense to bring the show to town.

The big question was what Disney would bring to share with everyone present. It turned out to be not very much.

There was an opening montage of the products of the company with many recent favorites. Bob Iger gave a brief introduction with an opening mention of the Walt Disney Family Museum as well as Pixar and Lucas (directly across the street from the meeting’s location of the Palace of Fine Arts theater at the Letterman Digital Arts Center).

John Lasseter and Bob Iger (joined by Josh Gad, the voice of “Frozen” snowman, Olaf) confirmed what many had expected that Disney would indeed do a sequel to “Frozen”. The short subject, “Frozen Fever”, to be released with “Cinderella” was screened as well.

Bob Iger also announced the first Star Wars film independent of the established saga as “Rogue One” for 2016 and gave a date and a director for Episode 8 in 2017. On the Marvel front, he shared a “quiet” clip from the upcoming “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and gave a series of release dates without specifics for other Marvel productions.

On the theme park side, he gave mention to the upcoming Disneyland 60th but no details. The same for the Shanghai Disneyland; a mention of the project, a time lapse movie of the construction of the signature castle, but no details. During the Q&A following the official meeting, he did confirm a name change for the Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida but not the name or any details.

Official business included the election directors (many of who were present including Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg); confirmation of the corporate auditor in Price, Waterhouse, Cooper; and shareholder acknowledgement of the management compensation. These were all adopted by the vote of the shareholders. Two additional shareholder proposals were presented, both of which were defeated.

The question and answer portion of the meeting usually offers some good points (along with some less than memorable ones). This year did not disappoint. A question about wages brought a confirmation that across the company there would be an increase of hourly wages to no less than $10 an hour. The question of smoking on film and in television was discussed by several in the audience with a commitment that Disney would not allow smoking in a G or PG film, unless a historical character was known to have smoked. While Bob Iger gave the example of Abraham Lincoln as a smoker, one had only to think back to Tom Hanks portrayal of Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks” as a smoker.

A recent acquisition of Maker Studios by Disney was mentioned. Being one of the top creators of content on YouTube, it was praised as bringing continued quality to so many people. Bob Iger mentioned how pleased that Disney was with it and hoped for many more years of output from it.

Another question asked why Blu-ray releases of titles did not include supplemental materials available on previous DVD releases and why Disney had given up releasing titles on home video in 3D here in the US, but continued overseas. Bob Iger appropriately noted that the changes in content delivery were ongoing and that he would expect those materials to be available. As to 3D, he indicated that the company had seen that as less profitable as the growth of 3D television in the US had slowed.

Overall, the quality of questions asked and answered were good with information passed back and forth. A final question from the audience turned into what Bob Iger referred to as the “Iger Family Reunion”, ending the morning on a light note.

He also on several occasions throughout the meeting mentioned how this was his 40th year with Disney and how proud he was of everyone who helps bring the products of the company to consumers.

A screening of the newly released “Cinderella” for D23 members followed the meeting, wrapping up a fine, if short visit to San Francisco.
Roger Colton is not a shareholder of the Walt Disney Company but attended the annual meeting as guest of a shareholder. Roger’s own blog is www.theblueparrot.info