Outrageous Fortune: Sometimes Being Cheap Is Better!

Mister D: This was one of my favorite scenes in “Outrageous Fortune,” but it didn’t include Bette! 🙁 Sorry ladies and germs!

How Disney did it
Kim Shiffman
Canadian Business Online, January 18, 2007

During his 21-year tenure at Disney, Michael Eisner grew the company from US$7 billion to US$20 billion in in revenue. Eisner recently spoke to a group of Toronto businesspeople and revealed how he did it.

DISNEY LESSON #1: Creativity and fiscal responsibility can go hand in hand
Eisner says Disney was successful because of a philosophy he championed called “creativity in a box.” Meaning: when you develop a new initiative, you’re creating a box that should include both creativity and financial discipline. (Decide the size of the box, says Eisner, by analyzing your likely ROI.)

Eisner recommends challenging your staff to come up with creative solutions to keep costs down. He tells the story of the 1987 movie Outrageous Fortune, starring Shelley Long and Bette Midler.

The script included a scene in which Long’s character was to visit her parents’ apartment to beg them for money. Disney wanted to cut the scene to save money, but the filmmakers argued it was essential. Eisner challenged the filmmakers to find a solution. Though the filmmakers were frustrated at first–they even called Disney “cheap” in an interview–they eventually found a solution that turned out to be one of the funnier scenes in the movie: Long reaches the lobby of her parents’ apartment building and presses the buzzer, but Mom won’t let her in, knowing she’s probably there seeking cash. The entire scene takes place in the lobby, with her parents unseen (their voices coming through the intercom), thus saving Disney from paying the actors and building a set. (In the end, Daddy drops US$5,000 out the window.)

For more of Mr. Eisner’s lessons: Click Here

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