Only a few weeks after Disney became a major presence in the comic book world by purchasing Marvel, the Chairman of Disney Studios resigned (or was fired) from his position as head of Disney’s movie division.
Dick Cook began his career with Disney as a ride operator at their California theme park in 1970, and eventually rose to the top of the movie division of the company as Chairman of Disney Studios. However, in the past few years, disappointing box office numbers have resulted in friction between Cook and Disney CEO Bob Iger. Apparently, this came to a head Friday afternoon as Cook made the decision, in the face of being asked to change directions for the studio, to resign.
Some reports talk about a last minute meeting with CEO Iger where Cook was basically fired, while others report that Cook had been planning to leave and chose Friday as the day to do it. Whatever the case, it’s clear that Cook, a traditionalist, was not fitting into Disney’s modern business strategy of cross-branding, and wasn’t delivering the type of success in that area that Disney is looking for.
Disney itself is statign that Cook was not fired, but Cook has been telling Hollywood sources that he was forced out of the company, and there are even reports of a teary meeting where Cook told a roomful of employees that he was being fired after 38 years of service.
It may be possible that Disney’s purchase of Marvel played a role in this decision, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported that Cook was unhappy with the deal, believing that Disney Studios should have control over Marvel Studios as part of the bargain. The move may affect other fan favorite properties as well, as Johnny Depp apparently had a strong relationship with Cook, and is disappointed and shaken by the news, putting a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie in jeopardy.
Steven Spielberg is also reportedly upset, citing Cook as a major reason for bringing Dreamworks Studios under the Disney banner. Whatever the case, the next person to hold this position at Disney will have their hands full trying to repair relationships and realize Disney’s vision for a cross-branded, mass-marketed future.
Some rumors suggest that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige may be in line for the job.
Sources: LA Times , Deadline , Wall Street Journal
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Posted originally: 2009-09-21 12:19:47