Pooh and the Money Pot?


DIS Veteran
Apr 27, 2000
There have been a lot of articles recently about the Pooh rights case. In almost every one they state that Pooh is worth more than $4-5B in annual revenues for Disney. Can this really be the right? The whole Consumer Products division only has revenues of a little over $3B. Even if it were all Pooh, where would the other $1-2B come from? Anyone have any better insight on what Pooh really might be worth?

There has been a series of articles about the case in the American Reporter


They are painting a pretty bleak picture for Disney. Could there be any worse time to be involved in a document destruction case after the Enron debacle. We better keep our fingers crossed on this one. It looks like even under the best case Disney will have to pony up a good chunk of change.
Does the revenue from the consumer products division include licensing products to other manufacturers? Does it include the publishing, music and video?

January 29, 2002 -- The Walt Disney Co. could lose as much as 25 percent of its annual gross revenues if it doesn't win the Winnie the Pooh lawsuit expected to go to trial as soon as the end of this year.
Freshly unsealed court documents show that new Hollywood attorneys for the heirs of New York agent Stephen Slesinger, who first sued Disney for back Pooh royalties in 1991, are now asking to terminate Disney's license to exploit the beloved bear cub.

The loss of Pooh plush toys or Tigger tee-shirts or Piglet lunch boxes, not to mention theme park attractions like the incredibly popular "Pooh's Honey Pot" ride in Tokyo and planned for Hong Kong, would be a devastating financial blow to the entertainment giant, which already is suffering from lower earnings, little growth and a lagging stock price.

The court documents claim that Pooh is the "most lucrative" of all Disney characters, even more than Mickey Mouse.

The attorneys for Slesinger's heirs used newspaper articles, stock analysts and company insiders in stating that Pooh generates as much as a quarter of Disney's total annual revenues, or $3.3 billion in 1998, $4.5 billion in 2002 and a projected $6 billion in 2001.

The attorneys quoted a sales and consumer data tracking company's figures showing that in licensed toy sales, Pooh characters have outsold Mickey, Minnie and friends $316 million to $114 million through November 1999.

Disney officials don't release detailed sales comparisons on their characters. However, just recently, in his Jan. 8 presentation to the Salomon Smith Barney Entertainment Media and Telecommunications Conference, Disney President Bob Iger said, "in merchandise licensing, two thirds of our revenues come from our Mickey and Pooh properties."

Bonnie Eskenazi, one of the attorneys from Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman Machtinger & Kinsella suing Disney, confirmed to The Post that the formal termination request regarding the 1983 Slesinger-Disney contract for commercializing Pooh was made last spring in the heirs' third amended a complaint that was among the newly unsealed court documents.

"It's a very common remedy for material breach of a license agreement to terminate the license," Eskenazi said. "Many licensing agreements with studios actually do contain a provision whereby the owner of the property expressly waives their right to terminate. And that is not in that contract."

But Daniel Petrocelli, the outside counsel for Disney in the case, told The Post that the Slesinger heirs do not have any right to pull Pooh from Disney. "That is a completely false and irresponsible accusation. This case is only about whether or not additional royalties are owed. Not for one second do the Slesingers have any chance under the law to get back any rights."

Replied Eskenazi: "Mr. Petrocelli's analysis is just not correct."

The last time Eskenazi and her litigator partner Bert Fields, who has never lost a case, went up against Disney in a big way was the Jeffrey Katzenberg trial, which proved devastating to Disney's Eisner both personally (that infamous "midget" slur) and profit-wise (a humongous settlement).

Yet Disney finds itself in an even more difficult spot this time around.
<b><i>Source:</i></b>New York Post
ALWAYS OVER MONEY,MONEY,MONEY,wdw has been using Pooh for how long?Now its an issue?Like the women in the ford plant in Chicago,how come you wait almost 20 yrs to scream sexual harrassment,i would have screamed out the first time,not waited 20 yrs,i think the law should state that if ,disney, for instance,has used certain products for a cetain amount of time ,and the public expects to be entertained or enlightened by it for a certain length of time-then so be it-Cut and Dry!!!!
I really hope i didnt offend anyone,but some things really bother me,and i know they are just not cut and dry!I just get so tired of JUNK,for instance,i worked with women ,who actually sat in my bossed lap,they all would drink after hrs and party together,but the minute they all had to punch in on time and do there share of the work,he suddenly became sexually abusive,come on!!!Now there is more to the story than i told,but some of us women just didnt play the game and we were never bothered and we were respected as well,i guess my point is, if you think you want a free weekend off with pay and are willing to a pay a price-how come they complain down the road??????I guess i might offend a lot of people with this and i am sorry if i do -there are always extenuating circumstances .
One thing about this is, the Disney corporation really extended pooh and his pals a long way past the original Milne stories. Think of the illustrations of classic pooh vs. "disney pooh." In addition to the original theatrical releases, which were based on the Milne stories more or less directly, Disney has produced a gazillion 1/2 hour TV shows, which continue to air, the Book of Pooh series, direcet to video movies such as Tigger Movie and Seasons of Giving, sing a long and read along videos and audios. They have really extended the characters on their own, not to mention the cross promotion from the theme parks and ubiquitous merchandise. Scheslinger's heirs would be getting more than they ever had to begin with Disney couldn't use the characters. I would think that Disney has invested a lot in the characters, and so has some right to them.

Thanks Routemandan for the additional link.

At this stage you would expect the plaintiff to, shall we say, be very generous in their estimates. If you could really attribute 25% of the company’s revenues to Pooh, than what would this say about the value being generated by the rest of the company!

Let’s run with some numbers. Assume Iger’s statement that 2/3 of all license revenues come from Pooh and Mickey. Also, assume the toy license numbers are indicative of the relative spit overall (Pooh sells 3X more than Mickey). Pooh’s percentage is than 50% (75% x 66%).

50% of the entire consumer product division gets us about $1.5B. Probably an over estimate, but throw in other potential revenues from TV shows, etc. and might it be fair to say the number could be in the $1-2B range? Not chump change.

It would be interesting to see how they tried to value the theme park benefit. The first thing that came to mind were all the press releases last year about how TDL attendance was way up, and what did Disney credit for this, why the new Pooh ride. A stretch to put a value on this, but you can at least see how they would try to make their case. Will be interesting to the true number, if the judge allows this data to be exposed.

20 years does seem like a long time. However, I can see where it would take a number of years before they suspected Disney of foul play. Not unreasonable that 7 years would pass before they got to the point of filing the original suite (1983 to 1990). I assume they wanted a trial than, but Disney? legal maneuvering delayed it another 11 years. This may be a move they come to regret, given what has transpired in the interim.

I totally agree with you that Disney should not be penalized for building the Pooh franchise better than anyone else could. However, the danger is that the judge overlooks all of this logic in his desire to punish Disney for what he clearly sees as extremely poor corporate behavior.

Hey Scoop

This is your territory. Got any insight on whether the Slesinger’s have a prayer of getting the contract voided, under breach of conduct?


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