To some in Park City, Ross' presence was ironic given that he helped to dismantle and then sell Disney's specialty film division, Miramax, on the belief that the art-house business was no longer part of the studio's core mission. Miramax, after all, is credited with creating the modern-day independent movie business before its corporate marriage to Disney turned sour.
The news article indicated that Ross's presence is more of a "scouting for talent" and "educational" in nature.
To be sure, the Disney executives were not trudging around Park City in the hope of discovering the next filmmaker who could make movies that would appeal to the skinny jeans and hoodie set for the studio. Rather, they hope that the lure of a bigger paycheck and guaranteed distribution might persuade some independent filmmakers to bring their unique sensibilities to Disney's mainstream movies.
"We're not getting back into the business of acquiring and distributing independent films," a spokeswoman for the studio said. "But we're very interested in discovering new talent, and this is the place to do that."
That may not be so bad. Family-oriented movies should not mean bland storyline and two-dimensional characters. The only way to prevent that is to get directors and producers who are unconventional and willing to do riskier projects, but still stay within the comfort level of Disney (that could be an oxymoron, I know). Still, Tim Burton could do it. Other than the disappointing dance sequence ending to "Alice", his movies for Disney have been unconventional and interesting.