Bloomberg News

Disney Halts On-Demand Movie Sales on ITunes in Japan

July 09, 2014

Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US), the world’s largest entertainment company, halted on-demand sales of new movies through Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)’s online store in Japan after the two companies couldn’t reach a final agreement on sales.

Sales through iTunes of films, including “Frozen” and “Thor: The Dark World,” stopped yesterday and the company is trying to restart the service while rentals of existing titles are continuing, Disney said in a statement on its Japanese website. The Burbank, California-based company didn’t say if other markets are affected.

The two companies have enjoyed close ties in the past and Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger has been a board member (AAPL:US) of Cupertino, California-based Apple since 2011. When video was first added to iTunes, the entertainment company was the first major studio to sign on with service.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a director at Disney prior to his death in 2011. He became the entertainment company’s biggest shareholder after Disney in 2006 bought Pixar, the animation studio he helped create.

Calls by Bloomberg News to the media offices of Disney and Apple in Japan seeking comment on the statement weren’t immediately returned.

In addition to its film studios, Disney’s Japan businesses include retail stores and a mobile phone business that sells branded devices and licenses content and games to wireless carriers in the country. The company had 46 outlets in Japan, according to its 2013 annual report.

Disney earns royalties from the Tokyo Disneyland operated by Oriental Land Co. (4661) The company doesn’t own an equity stake in the theme park operator, according to its annual report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Grace Huang in Tokyo at xhuang66@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net Robert Fenner, Subramaniam Sharma


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