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Friday, September 18, 2009

Dick Cook resigns as head of Walt Disney Pictures

Less than a week after announcing the new slate of upcoming films at the D23 Expo, Dick Cook, the chairman of the Walt Disney Studios has announced he is resigning.

In a statement released today, Cook said:

"I am stepping down from my role as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, effective immediately.

I have loved every minute of my 38 years that I have worked at Disney…from the beginning as a ride operator on Disneyland’s steam train and monorail to my position as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. To wrap up my Disney experience in a neatly bundled statement is close to impossible. But what I will say is, during my time at the Studio, we have achieved many industry and Company milestones. Our talent roster is simply the best in the business. I believe our slate of upcoming motion pictures is the best in our history. But most of all, I love the people, my colleagues, my teammates, who are the most talented, dedicated and loyal folks in the world. I know that I leave the Studio in their exceptional hands.

I have been contemplating this for some time now and feel it’s the right time for me to move on to new adventures…and in the words of one of my baseball heroes, Yogi Berra, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Disney CEO Bob Iger released a statement today as well in response to Cook's resignation announcement:
“Throughout his distinguished 38-year Disney career, Dick Cook’s outstanding creative instincts and incomparable showmanship have truly enriched this company and significantly impacted Disney’s great legacy,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. “We thank Dick for his tremendous passion for Disney, and his many accomplishments and contributions to The Walt Disney Studios, including a very promising upcoming film slate. On behalf of everyone at Disney, we wish him the best with all the future has to offer.”
Under Cook's leadership, the Studio has been one of the leading domestic distributors for 12 of the last 15 years with box office receipts in excess of one billion dollars each. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International passed the one billion dollar mark for 14 consecutive years, the only distribution company to have achieved this milestone.

During his tenure, Cook has overseen such box-office successes as the 3-D record breaking "Miley Cyrus & Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds Concert," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," which broke industry wide records with the highest global opening at over $404 million, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," the highest grossing film in Disney history with over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, "Ratatouille," "Cars," "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe," 'National Treasure," "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," "The Incredibles," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Finding Nemo," "Lilo & Stitch, " "Remember the Titans," "Signs," "Armageddon," "Prince Diaries," "Pearl Harbor," among many others.

Cook has enjoyed success in the area of Home Entertainment as well. He spearheaded the highly successful launch of the "Disney DVD" brand, and has consistently broke industry records with DVD and Blu-ray releases.

A 38-year Disney veteran, Cook began his career in 1970 at Disneyland in Anaheim, where he was a ride operator on the park's steam locomotives and monorail. Within a year, he became a representative in the Disneyland sales department and three years later was promoted to department manager.
In 1977, Cook moved to The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank to serve as manager of pay television and non-theatrical releases. In this capacity, he was responsible for Disney's first entry into the burgeoning world of cable television, developing what would become The Disney Channel.

Cook entered the motion picture business at Disney in 1980 as assistant domestic sales manager for the Buena Vista Distribution Company. He quickly moved up through the ranks, becoming vice president and general sales manager, then senior vice president of domestic distribution. In 1988, he was promoted to president of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. At that time, he supervised the release of numerous hit films, including "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," "Three Men and a Baby" (the first Disney film to break the $100 million mark), "Good Morning, Vietnam," "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," "Pretty Woman," "Father of the Bride" and "Sister Act." Cook's tenure in distribution also placed him on the front lines of Disney's animation renaissance and the revitalization of the animation genre as a whole, releasing animated blockbusters including "The Little Mermaid," Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Lion King" and "Pocahontas."

In 1994, Cook assumed the additional responsibility of film marketing when he was promoted to president of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution and Marketing. In this position, he oversaw the marketing and distribution strategies for hit films such as "The Santa Clause," "Crimson Tide," "Toy Story," "The Rock," and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Two years later, Cook was promoted to chairman of The Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group, and then assumed his current role in 2002 as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.
So far, there has been no announcement about who will head up the Studios.

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