Where Does The Walt Disney Pictures Logo Appear?
Over the last few days, I've seen discussions about whether the Walt Disney Pictures logo will appear before Star Wars: Episode VII. And, in fact, I just read a very thoughtfully written article by Far, Far Away Radio on which logo to expect. The answer, though, is simple - No. The Walt Disney Pictures logo will not appear before the new Star Wars film. Not unless, for some reason, Disney suddenly decides to produce the film under Walt Disney Pictures which would be highly unlikely.
A common misunderstanding that people have are that Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Pictures are one in the same. Walt Disney Pictures is actually one several production companies under the Walt Disney Studios umbrella. And, Walt Disney Studios is one of several divisions under the Walt Disney Company.
For all intents and purposes, what is now Walt Disney Pictures evolved from the former Buena Vista Distribution which was the distribution company Walt Disney founded in the 1950s when he ended his distribution relationships with RKO and United Artists. It became Walt Disney Pictures in 1983 when Walt Disney Productions changed its name to the Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney Pictures produces the films that one most likely relate to the Walt Disney Company (that wholesome family fun film). It also distributes the films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios (which includes DisneyToon Studios), Pixar Animation Studios, The Muppet Studio and DisneyNature.
Outside of this, the Walt Disney Studios division also currently has three other production companies -Touchstone Pictures, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm. The understandable stereotypes people have of Disney is that it is a wholesome family oriented company. For the most part, this is correct, but, one has to remember that the Walt Disney Company is actually a huge corporation that owns assets that would make one with those stereotypes raise an eyebrow. In fact, in 1984, it was Touchstone that became the first Disney owned production company to release films without the Walt Disney Pictures logo. Touchstone was actually founded so that Disney could produce films with more mature themes. While the film seems fairly innocuous today, the first film released by Touchstone was Splash, starring Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks, which was fairly risque for Disney in the day.
One might be surprised that Miramax and Dimension Films were also under Walt Disney Studios. And, those film production companies definitely did not feature the Walt Disney Pictures logo either. The same went for Hollywood Pictures which was dissolved in 2007.
The acquisitions of Marvel and Lucasfilm, however, are different beasts. Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm (the production company) are actually owned by larger entities owned by the Walt Disney Company. Marvel Studios is a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment owned in whole by Disney. And, Lucasfilm (the production company) is owned by Lucasfilm, the company that owns a variety of businesses that includes film production, consumer products, visual effects and so on. Marvel Studios and Lucasfilms actually work in conjunction with Walt Disney Studios, but have nothing to do with Walt Disney Pictures.
I've heard people say that Disney is reacting to fan outrage at the Disney logo being featured on these films and therefore not including it, but, the truth of the matter is that it's not rare for Walt Disney Studios not to include the logo on films not directly tied to Walt Disney Pictures.