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Disney goes multi-platform on movie tie-ins

Disney will publish a range of video games to accompany "Chicken Little," its first-ever fully computer-animated film.
/ Source: Reuters

The Walt Disney Co. will publish a range of video games to accompany "Chicken Little," its first-ever fully computer-animated film, the company said on Monday.

The moves comes as Disney executives consider whether to mount a bigger push in the video game industry, a strategy that would set the studio apart from the approach now favored by its Hollywood counterparts of licensing their franchises to major game publishers.

In particular, Disney partner Pixar Animation Studios has benefited from a relationship with THQ Inc., which in the year ended this March sold more than five million units of games based on the smash hit Disney/Pixar film "Finding Nemo."

Disney's Buena Vista Games division said it would publish console, handheld and PC versions of games based on "Chicken Little," marking the first time it has published a game itself for multiple platforms at the same time.

"Chicken Little" is a big bet for Disney, its first completely computer-animated film, and one the company hopes will provide its first real animated mega-hit since 1994's "The Lion King."

With its lucrative relationship with Pixar set to come to an end, and with its recent traditionally animated films having a mixed record at best, Disney is putting significant marketing muscle behind "Little," which it hopes can begin a new chapter in the company's fabled history of animation.

The "Chicken Little" games will be out alongside the movies in summer 2005, Disney said.

Later in 2005, the company said, it will publish games based on "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," the first in the series of C.S. Lewis books on the mythical world of Narnia that Disney is turning into movies.

Both series will be published under Buena Vista Games' Disney Interactive label.

In early April, Disney Chief Executive Michael Eisner said the video game industry was one of the things the company's board would consider in its strategy meetings, and whether the company needed to be more aggressive about games.

Despite the industry's $10 billion in annual sales in the United States alone, the major media conglomerates have relatively little to do with video games, largely opting instead to license their franchises externally.