Hollywood is gearing up for an unlikely reunion.
Despite publicly backing out of talks with Disney in January and making the rounds of other Hollywood studios looking for a partner, Jobs has come to believe that the best home for Pixar is at Disney after all, sources said.
A reunion would mark a significant victory for Disney CEO Michael Eisner (search), who has long had an acrimonious relationship with Jobs.
Pixar's decision earlier this year to end discussions with Disney over an extension of their deal became a focal point for angry shareholders looking to oust Eisner.
But it appears Eisner called Jobs' bluff when he dug in and refused to renew the deal on the significantly less lucrative terms that Pixar had been proposing.
Under the current deal, which expires at the end of 2005, Disney and Pixar split the profits on the movies evenly; Disney also receives a 12.5 percent distribution fee. By some estimates Disney and Pixar could split some $1 billion from their most recent hit, "Finding Nemo." (search)
After bailing on Disney, Pixar held preliminary discussions with other studios, including MGM, Sony, Warner Bros. and Fox. (Both Fox and The Post are owned by News Corp.)
Now, executives at those companies have all but given up hope of striking a deal with Pixar, sources said.
Pixar had also been wooed by Comcast after the cable giant attempted a hostile takeover of Disney. Comcast had sought to bring Jobs to its side in the hopes of convincing Disney shareholders that a merger with Comcast would come with a renewed Pixar deal.
Representatives for Pixar and Disney declined comment.
In March, when Eisner's job seemed to be in jeopardy amid a backlash from dissident shareholders, Jobs told Hollywood associates that he would go back to Disney only if Eisner left.
Now he appears to be changing his tune, sources say, and is likely to stick with Disney regardless of how long Eisner remains as CEO.
If Jobs were to leave the Disney fold, he would be leaving behind a film library that includes hits such as "Toy Story" (search) and "Monsters Inc." (search) He would also lose the rights to make sequels.
"He'll probably give Disney a shot again because it doesn't make sense to split the library," said a source.
Still, a new deal between Pixar and Disney is not likely to be completed soon. Before the current expiration date, the companies have two more movies to make: "The Incredibles" and "Cars."
"Jobs really doesn't have to do anything today," said a source. "He can wait."