After a tumultuous two-and-a-half years, Rich Ross resigned over the weekend as chairmen of Disney Studios. In a press release, Ross stated that he felt that the chairmen position was no longer a good professional fit. Ross was hired by CEO Bob Iger in 2009, after leading the Disney Channel as President to many successes (the High School Musical series, Hannah Montana, Lizzie McGuire, and That’s So Raven were all green lit under his leadership). The film industry proved to be a bit tougher to crack and many will no doubt point to the $200 million loss on John Carter being the final straw in his decision to resign.
It’s been a interesting last few years for the Mouse House under Ross’ tenure. The most financially successful movies under his leadership were sequels (Toy Story 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cars 2) or established properties (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Alice in Wonderland). Among those, only Toy Story 3 was both financially and critically beloved. The recent releases of Mars Needs Moms ($39 million), Prom ($10 million) and the aformentioned John Carter did little to help his standing within Disney.
Combine these financial woes with reported issues with other top creatives, like Pixar’s John Lasseter and the Dreamworks duo Steven Spielberg and Jerry Bruckheimer, and it paints a clearer picture of the reason why Rich Ross would resign.
It will be interesting to see where CEO Bob Iger and Disney go from here. There strategy to release fewer films and focus on develop franchises might turn some in the film industry off. But let’s be realistic, the Disney brand is and will remain incredibly popular and the chairman job is sure to attract top candidates. Already there’s been speculation with regards to Marvel chief Kevin Fiege, Dreamworks CEO Stacey Snider or Disney president Alan Bergman would take the job.
Even with all the turmoil at the top of Disney, all is not lost. The Mouse House will more than likely bounce back considering The Avengers and Brave are on their way to multiplexes very soon.