Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dick Cook Abruptly Leaves Walt Disney Studios

In what is a total shocker, Dick Cook, the head of Walt Disney Studios, has abruptly stepped down and left the Walt Disney Company after 38 years of service.

The news, which came just as offices were emptying out for the weekend, stunned the entertainment industry for its suddenness, even as it revealed a rift between Cook and Disney Chief Executive Robert A. Iger. The studio has had an uneven box-office performance and has been struggling creatively. It lost money in its most recent financial quarter.

This, of course, came off the heel of a very successful D23 Expo where Cook revealed the slate of upcoming releases from the Walt Disney Studios.

I must say that while this is certainly unexpected, I am not totally surprised by it. Other than movies out of Pixar, the performance of the movie division after the Pirates franchise has been lethargic. The live-action movies have been generally a disappointment. But is this directly attributed to Cook? I don't know, but as is common for big companies, the head of the division is considered the one to take the blame.

Still, the news article hinted at what could possibly be a different approach to management between Iger and Cook.

Cook, the onetime Disneyland ride operator who rose to head the studio, is viewed as a traditionalist at a time when Iger is seeking new ways of doing business. Cook tended to be uncommunicative to the point of secretiveness -- a personal style that frustrated Iger, who emphasizes collaboration.

It will be interesting to see who takes over the studios.


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