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Disney gets rid of Cook and may have lost Jack Sparrow

Posted by LiveFor on September 20, 2009

hb5_04Disney lost or ludicrously got rid of Dick Cook who was head of Walt Disney Studios for 38 years.  Word has it that Disney CEO Robert Iger made the decision. The photos above shows Iger on the left presenting Cook with the AJC Human Relations Award back in 2007 (courtesy of MovieWeb).

THR reports that Cook left, and that report has become the Disney party line. “To wrap up my Disney experience in a neatly bundled statement is close to impossible,” Cook said in a statement. “But what I will say is, during my time at the studio, we have achieved many industry and company milestones.”

/Film have a good analysis of the whole thing and point out that Nikki Finke shows a different side, saying that Cook was fired – “Iger has no reason to be happy with the label…Choices have been made that not only are unspectacular, but even poor. Not only have the movies lost money, which can happen to anybody, but they’ve also diminished the live action brand.”

Disney’s recent film releases have been a mixed bag, critically and financially. In a May conference call with analysts, Tom Staggs, Disney’s CFO, remarked, “Some of our key theatrical releases, including Bedtime Stories, Race to Witch Mountain, and Confessions of a Shopaholic performed below our expectations and well short of last year’s slate, further dampening results.”

However, Cook has had a big impact on Disney over the yeas. DreamWorks signed with Disney was because of Steven Spielberg’s relationship with Cook. “Steven worships Dick,” an insider told Nikki Finke, and now that he is no longer part of the company, Spielberg is “devastated.”

This all happened over the weekend and it may have a knock on effect for a number of projects including Pirates of the Caribbean 4.

The reason why his departure may effect it is because he was one of the main reasons Johnny Depp played Captain Jack Sparrow.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times Depp said of Cook, “He’s instantly trustworthy. And you generally don’t meet people at the studios you trust. When things went a little sideways on the first ‘Pirates’ movie and others at the studio were less than enthusiastic about my interpretation of the character, Dick was there from the first moment. He trusted me.” Cook also called Depp before the news was announced of his departure as he wanted to tell Depp himself.

Since the news Depp said that his involvement in the fourth Pirates film is not rock solid as it once was. “There’s a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment.”

That’s the crazy World of the studios for you. Big decisions have knock on effects to many things and who knows where this will stop. I think Iger may have been a bit hasty in getting rid of Cook. I don’t think his nice guy effect had been looked at properly. That is the thing about Disney, they do okay for a while and then decisions in the boardroom slowly knock everything back a step.


I am stepping down from my role as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, effective immediately.

I have loved every minute of my 38 years that I have worked at Disney…from the beginning as a ride operator on Disneyland’s steam train and monorail to my position as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. To wrap up my Disney experience in a neatly bundled statement is close to impossible. But what I will say is, during my time at the Studio, we have achieved many industry and Company milestones. Our talent roster is simply the best in the business. I believe our slate of upcoming motion pictures is the best in our history. But most of all, I love the people, my colleagues, my teammates, who are the most talented, dedicated and loyal folks in the world. I know that I leave the Studio in their exceptional hands.

I have been contemplating this for some time now and feel it’s the right time for me to move on to new adventures…and in the words of one of my baseball heroes, Yogi Berra, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”


“Throughout his distinguished 38-year Disney career, Dick Cook’s outstanding creative instincts and incomparable showmanship have truly enriched this company and significantly impacted Disney’s great legacy,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. “We thank Dick for his tremendous passion for Disney, and his many accomplishments and contributions to The Walt Disney Studios, including a very promising upcoming film slate. On behalf of everyone at Disney, we wish him the best with all the future has to offer.”

Could Depp’s words have an effect on Cook’s return to Disney? Was he pushed or did he leave of his own free will?

What are your thoughts on the while situation?

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