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Shakeup at Walt Disney Studios, Dick Cook Resigns

Walt Disney Studios chair Richard (Dick) Cook has announced that he will be resigning his post. As chair of the studios cook over saw all live action and animated films released by the Walt Disney Company. Unfortunately there has been a fair amount of pressure for the studios to improve their offerings the last few years and many felt that Cook would eventually resign or be fired if things did not improve.

Cook was liked by most Disney fans, not just because he rose through the company from the bottom ranks of a front line attractions cast member at Disneyland, but also for his involvement in the fan community, such as his participation in the Carolwood Society. I’m sad to see him go and hope he stays involved in the Disney community.

Nikki Finke is reporting that Dick Cook was actually fired. But I guess in the higher levels of Hollywood, they call that a resignation.

(via the LA Times)

Follow below the jump for his official bio:

As chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, Richard Cook oversees all aspects of the development, production, distribution and marketing for all live-action and animated films released under the Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and Miramax banners worldwide. He is also responsible for Disney’s worldwide home entertainment operations under Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, as well as Walt Disney Music Group, Walt Disney Theatrical Productions, Disney-ABC Domestic Television, Disney-ABC International Television, the Studio’s legal and business affairs and all areas of new technology.

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. To date, the Studio has released 60 films that have grossed more than $100 million each domestically. No other studio has accomplished this extraordinary feat.

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.

With Cook at the helm, the Studio has attracted some of the most powerful as well as diverse producers and directors in the industry including Jerry Bruckheimer, Scott Rudin, Robert Zemeckis, Tim Burton, Tony Scott, Lasse Hallstrom, Wes Anderson, Army Bernstein, Gore Verbinski, Walter Salles and Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy among 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.

A graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in political science, Cook has been a USC trustee and has served as president of the USC Alumni Association. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, was president of The Chandler School Board of Trustees and past chairman of the Flintridge Preparatory School Board of Trustees, and sits on the board of governors for the Carolwood Society, and on the board of directors for the Will Rogers Foundation, and the Foundation of Motion Picture Pioneers. In 1976, the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge awarded him with the prestigious George Washington Medal of Freedom. In 2004, Cook was honored with the Motion Picture Showmanship Award by the publicists of the International Cinematographers Guild. Other prestigious past recipients include Jack L. Warner, Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman, Alfred Hitchcock, Lew Wasserman, Steven Spielberg, and Tom Hanks among others. In 2005, Cook was honored with “The Walt Disney Man of the Year Award” by Big Brothers Big Sisters. Most recently, Cook was recognized by Variety – The Children’s Charity of Southern California with the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award.

11 thoughts on “Shakeup at Walt Disney Studios, Dick Cook Resigns”

  1. While I’m sad to see him go, as he really is the biggest cheerleader disney has/had. After looking through all the movies that have been released under the Walt Disney Studios label while he was chair of the studios, I am not surprised or truly upset. I’d still like to see him be a part of the company in some way though. He truly is a disney fan himself and has great ties to keep the company strong.

  2. Man, pretty crazy shake-up. Especially considering how ridiculously awesome his keynote was at the D23 Expo. I mean like, it totally blew Iger, Rasulo, and Lasseter’s keynotes out of the water in terms of announcements, presentation, and celebrity.

  3. Update 5 at now says that Dick Cook did indeed resign (but my take on it is that it looks like a “quit/fire” type of thing, sadly), so it isn’t clear if the part about Johnny Depp being upset over this in update 4 is accurate or not, and how this might potentially affect Pirates of the Caribbean 4.

  4. I was priveleged to work with Dick Cooks exceptionally talented and wonderfully positive team on the exhibition side of the industry. The team spirit comes from the top down and Dick Cook took the lead. Gary Weaver, Paul Holliman Bernd Jack..What a team….wooooowww you brought many treasured moments Dick Cook you are a National Treasure, you are a Prince in all the fairy tales, you are a TITAN, and all the fantastic Fantasias. Whether you are on the Beaches at Pearl Habor or a Pirate on the Carribean we will all be rooting for you Mr Cook. I know this is a new beginning. You carried on the spirit of Walt Disney and he will always be smiling thanks to you. You are going forward towards something great. All the best

  5. The way I interpreted the comments by Johnny Depp was that he had a built in trust for Mr. Cook. So, I’m sure PotC 4 isn’t out of the question, just that he’ll need to feel comfortable with whoever is tapped to replace Mr. Cook.

    I was wondering with the success that Lassiter as had with Pixar if Iger would decide to roll Disney Pictures together with Disney Animation and appoint Mr. Lassiter as the head of the new conjoined division.

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