Universal Studios is a major motion picture company and competitor to Walt Disney Studios. It is owned by NBCUniversal, which in turn is owned by Comcast (51%) and General Electric (49%). It was an early distributor of Walt Disney cartoons, and its massive backlot at its Universal Studios Hollywood studio and theme park has served as a filming location for Disney films. Walt Disney's poor relationship with Universal led to the creation of Mickey Mouse. Universal has resorts in California and Florida, which are those states' primary competitors against Disneyland and Walt Disney World, respectively.
History with Disney
In 1927, Universal began distributing Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks' Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons, when Disney signed a contract with Carl Laemmle for Charles Mintz. In 1928, Walt asked Mintz for a budget increase, while Mintz demanded a 20 percent budget cut. He revealed that all of Walt's employees (except for Ub Iwerks and Les Clark, who remained loyal to Walt) had signed a new contract for Mintz. Walt refused to give in to Mintz' demands and disassociated himself with his character after completing what was left of the uncompleted Oswald cartoons.
That spring, Iwerks and Disney created Mickey Mouse as a response and replacement for Oswald. Mickey went on to become the world's most famous and popular cartoon character, while Oswald faded into obscurity.
In February 2006, Disney re-obtained Oswald the Lucky Rabbit from Universal Studios, which lead to a huge rise in Oswald's popularity, as part of a deal which sent sportscaster Al Michaels from ESPN to NBC Universal's NBC Sports.
On August 31, 2009, Disney announced that it would acquire Marvel Entertainment for approximately $4 billion. Universal announced that Marvel Super Hero Island, a themed land at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park at the Universal Orlando Resort, would not be affected by the deal and would continue to operate as long as the contract allowed. Disney CEO Robert Iger acknowledged that Disney would honor all of Marvel's contracts with competitors, but that Marvel characters would simultaneously be able to appear in some Disney parks.
Disney films filmed at Universal
As Universal Studios Hollywood has such a massive and versatile studio backlot, many other movie studios tend to use the backlot as a filming location. Disney is not an exception to this. Some Disney films and shows that have been shot orpartially shot at or co-produced with Universal include:
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007, Walt Disney Pictures)
- Raising Helen (2004, Touchstone Pictures)
- Dick Tracy (1990, Touchstone Pictures)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011, Walt Disney Pictures)
- Ghost Whisperer (CBS, 2005-present, ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television) - Grandview is filmed on sets such as Courthouse Square, which is famous for its use in Back to the Future until an accidental fire destroyed much of the set in June 2008.
- Desperate Housewives (ABC, 2004-present, ABC Studios) - Wisteria Lane is filmed on the Colonial Street residential set.
- Monk (USA Network, 2002-present, ABC Studios and Universal Media Studios) - Co-produced with Universal.