Disney Chief Quits After "John Carter" Bomb
Disney movie studio boss Rich Ross stepped down on Friday, taking the fall for at least a couple of over-budgeted bombs as Hollywood shies away from taking risks on big blockbusters.
His resignation comes after two years in a row of nasty March surprises, ironically both having to do with the Red Planet. Last year it was "Mars Needs Moms," a creepy animated movie that lost $70 million. This year, it was "John Carter," a sci-fi action movie set on Mars that resulted in a $200 million loss for Disney.
Ross, 50, said in a memo to staff that he no longer believed his role as chairman of Walt Disney Studios was "the right professional fit."
The move was not surprising to analysts, coming a few months after studio marketing chief MT Carney also departed because of a string of lackluster releases.
Disney CEO Bob Iger, who said last summer that big-budget movies were getting "increasingly more risky," thanked Ross for his years of service.
The Walt Disney Co.'s stock rose 27 cents to close Friday at $42.35.
Disney's most successful movies recently have been made by studios it has bought, including "Toy Story" maker Pixar, which releases "Brave" in June, and Marvel, which will release the much-buzzed "The Avengers" overseas next week.
Under the Touchstone brand, Disney also distributes movies made by Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks production company, including "War Horse."
Fixing problems at the studio is seen as crucial for the company, because movies launch characters that are developed into Disney toys, theme park rides, books and video games. For example, "Cars Land," an attraction based on the Pixar movies, will open at Disney California Adventure in June.