Disney distribution head Dave Hollis to leave the studio

Disney's distribution head Dave Hollis at CinemaCon 2017.
(Todd Williamson / Getty Images for CinemaCon)
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Dave Hollis, president of worldwide theatrical distribution for Walt Disney Studios, is leaving the Burbank entertainment giant after 17 years.

Hollis, who has led Disney’s film distribution arm since 2011 and oversaw the release of major franchises such as “Star Wars” and “The Avengers,” will become chief executive of Chic Media, the women-focused digital content company founded by his wife, Rachel Hollis, Disney said Monday.

His studio duties will be taken over by Cathleen Taff, a veteran business executive at Disney who will add theatrical distribution to her current roles overseeing franchise management and audience analytics. Hollis, who is moving with his family to Texas, will remain in his job through May to help with the transition, Disney said.


Taff will take on a newly created role at Disney, which is looking to more closely align its theatrical distribution division with operations including consumer analytics. She will serve as executive vice president of theatrical distribution, franchise management and business and audience insights.

Hollis is leaving the company on a high note. The move comes as Disney becomes an increasingly dominant force at the box office because of its brands, including Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar. Walt Disney Co. is hoping to bring 20th Century Fox into the fold as part of its $52.4-billion purchase of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

Disney was the top studio last year in terms of domestic market share, collecting 22% of ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo, despite releasing fewer films than its rivals. Globally, Disney movies grossed more than $6 billion last year. The studio’s latest release, Marvel’s “Black Panther,” is poised to soon pass the $1-billion milestone.

“I am very thankful to Dave for his dynamic and fearless leadership of our distribution organization, which has seen our studio [grow] to incredible heights at the worldwide box office,” said Walt Disney Studios President Alan Bergman.

Hollis’ departure is the latest change in the executive ranks for Disney, which is preparing to launch two streaming services in the coming years, starting with an ESPN sports service and followed by a Disney-branded entertainment offering.

Disney on Monday named James Pitaro as president of ESPN, replacing John Skipper, who departed the network in December.