Today Rich Ross, chairman of Walt Disney Studios (those guys responsible for every Disney movie you’ve seen) resigned Friday afternoon, a month after the major disaster that became of the movie “John Carter.” This is not completely unexpected, considering last year’s flop “Mars Needs Moms”, some sources say he was forced to resign after “Carter” backfired on the studios with a $200 million loss.
In his resignation statement Ross said;
“I no longer believe the chairman role is the right professional fit for me. For that reason, I have made the very difficult decision to step down as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, effective today.”
Ross became chairman of the studio in October 2009. Ross had been a tremendous success as President of Disney Channel, creating jewels for the channel such as “High School Musical” and “Hannah Montana.”
Though big on TV, Ross lacked the experience required to run a movie studio. He brought a new approach to the studio, he cut down jobs and film production, the approach was to make less movies, but big movies.
While movies by partners Pixar and Marvel have been doing fine, the ‘solo’ productions have suffered. Inexperience took its toll. Ross made the wrong choices, like cutting down the budget on Jerry Bruckheimer’s “The Lone Ranger” (A sure bet, given than the two most successful movies during Ross’ time are Bruckheimer ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’) and letting the “John Carter” budget rise to $250 million.
And even though Ross became more an expense than a profit, and everything seems to indicate that he was forced to resign, Disney CEO Bob Iger recognized Ross’ achievements and gave him a fair goodbye:
[Ross’ leadership]”opened doors for Disney around the world, making our brand part of daily life for millions of people. I appreciate his countless contributions throughout his entire career at Disney, and expect he will have tremendous success in whatever he chooses to do next,”
Ross departure leaves the studio without a clear successor, although Iger doesn’t seem to be in a rush to replace him. For the time being the studio will rely on the Head of Production Sean Bailey, and President Alan Bergman.
*It is also worth noting that people have marked Ross’ timing as “strange” given that the “Avengers” comes out in two weeks and could possibly be the highest grossing film of the year. I would like to point out that this only support the idea that Ross was forced to resign, and that the millions lost to the studio are a big factor in the timing of his demise. (A kind of exile without glory.)