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Disney Movie Marketing Encounters Another Obstacle

After the movie marketing debacle that was Disney’s John Carter (of Mars) heads rolled around the Walt Disney Studios. Exits included people from the marketing department, including its chief MT Carney, all the way up to studio head Rich Ross. But apparently that wasn’t all that was troubling Disney’s movie marketing.

Now there is a strong whiff of a scandal at Walt Disney Studios marketing research division. According to, Louise Chater was dismissed from in late September after accusations that came in an anonymous letter about her sent to the studio. Chater left her position of CEO at First Movies and moved to the mouse house in March of 2011. She then redirected the lion share of the Disney’s research screenings and marketing materials testing to First Movies.

Chater’s representative claims there was nothing untoward here and that the letter is part of a smear campaign. Disney’s rep says they do not comment on personnel matters. Insiders were initially happy to see Chater join Disney, but became unhappy once it became clear that she was playing favorites with the company she founded.

With Disney producing fewer films each year, it is more important than ever for research and marketing to be spot on. Franchise potential has to be spotted early, merchandising potential fully realized, and audience appetites appropriately whetted for each film. Disney CEO Bob Iger should be worried that his studio team isn’t performing like the well oiled machine it should be. It certainly explains a lot of the questionable marketing coming from Burbank the last few years.

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