FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Rich Ross, Walt Disney Studios President, and Leron Gubler, President and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, unveil the Muppets Star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Ross was ousted as head of Disney's movie studio last Friday.
At The Wrap, Sharon Waxman has a good take on the departure of Rich Ross as head of Walt Disney Studios, the moviemaking arm of the Mighty Mouse:
The removal of Ross without a successor in hand signals some other changes, most importantly that Disney is shifting its focus back to moviemaking and away from the dogma of cross-branding.
For months, Ross and his team had been pushing the notion that the Disney studio in the post-Dick Cook era was about connecting the various divisions of the Walt Disney Company -- consumer products, the television properties, theme parks, international.
It was content-meets-marketing on steroids at a global media company with the means to do that.
That was why, Iger seemed to argue, it was fine to put someone with no movie experience in the studio job. (Ross came from television.)
The theme had become a mantra in Rich Ross conversations, who constantly suggested that the moviemaking expertise would be ceded to partners like Marvel, DreamWorks and Jerry Bruckheimer, while he focused on business strategies from a higher altitude.
I did a quick hit on the radio Friday morning in which I highlighted some of the same points, along with another one that I noted in February: Disney is getting killed on movies, while businesses like theme parks keep the revenues rolling in. In the company's fiscal first quarter, park revenues were up 18 percent, but movies were down a whopping 33 percent.
With the tanking of "John Carter," the bloat-budget wannabe blockbuster that Ross greenlighted [Ed: Did he actually "greenlight?" Me: Well, in fact as commenter Cpm2comm2 points out, it was Dick Cook, Ross's predecessor, but nonetheless Ross allowed the film to see the harsh light of the box office.], it was game over for the genius behind "Hannah Montana" and "High School Musical" in movieland. He did have "The Avengers" on tap [if you hit the link, TURN DOWN THE VOLUME, unless you want to give yourself a heart attack], but it was too little, too late.
Then again, the trend on the movie side was down, down, down anyway, as Disney's profits are now coming from other sources. So Ross could have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.