LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Walt Disney Co. on Monday named Disney Channels Worldwide top executive Rich Ross as its movie studios chairman, following a year of disappointing movie results and the abrupt departure of its former chief, Dick Cook.
The announcement puts Ross in charge of worldwide production, distribution, and marketing for all of the entertainment giant's film labels, including Walt Disney, Touchstone, Miramax and Pixar. Ross, who turns 48 on Wednesday, also will head Disney's theatrical and musical groups.
His appointment takes effect immediately and follows Cook's resignation three weeks ago.
Disney's studio revenue has fallen in each of the last five quarters, sinking from $1.82 billion in the March quarter of 2008 to $1.26 billion in the quarter ended in June this year. The studio also posted a $12 million operating loss in the June quarter, down from a $97 million operating profit last year.
After blaming a consistent decline in the sales of DVDs, in May CEO Robert Iger called the studio out for having a weak slate. Among its recent misses have been the high-priced "G-Force" and " Race to Witch Mountain."
The company has restructured its studio business significantly this year.
On Friday, Disney said it was trimming the annual production of its Miramax label to about three films from six to eight, while cutting 50 jobs and leaving 20 to staff the unit, mainly in New York.
In August, Disney said it would buy "Iron Man" maker Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion, giving it a pipeline of some 5,000 comic book characters to make movies about in the future. Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter will continue to oversee the Marvel properties.
In a statement, Iger noted Ross' consistent successes across technology platforms, as well as "his astute marketing sensibility, his proven ability in working effectively with talent and his skill at navigating complex global markets."
Ross joined Disney in 1996 as a senior vice president of programming and production at Disney Channel, and was named the channel's president in April 2004. Prior to that, he helped launch FX Networks and from 1986 to 1993 he held senior positions at Viacom Inc.'s Nickelodeon cable channel.