Disney’s Rich Ross, First Gay Studio Head, Resigns After John Carter Bombs

Rich Ross, the openly gay chairman of Walt Disney Studios, announced he is resigning from his post on Saturday, just weeks after the sci-fi film John Carter bombed in theaters nationwide. In an email, Ross (above, with Joe Jonas) explained, ”I no longer believe that the chairman role is the right professional fit for me.”

Read his resignation letter below:

For the last 15 years, I have had the opportunity to work with incredibly talented people on behalf of the world’s best loved brand. During that time, we’ve told some amazing stories around the world, created successful TV programming, movies and franchises that generated new opportunities for the company in the process.

I’ve always said our success is created and driven by our people—whom I consider to be the absolute best in the business. But, the best people need to be in the right jobs, in roles they are passionate about, doing work that leverages the full range of their abilities. It’s one of the leadership lessons I’ve learned during my career, and it’s something I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to as I look at the challenges and opportunities ahead.

I believe in this extraordinary Walt Disney Studios team, and I believe in our strong slate of films and our ability to make and market them better than anyone else. But, I no longer believe the Chairman role is the right professional fit for me. For that reason, I have made the very difficult decision to step down as Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, effective today.

It has been my honor to work with such incredible teams — at Disney Channels Worldwide and The Walt Disney Studios and the many other Disney businesses I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with. I know I leave the Studios in good hands and, even on separate paths, I am confident we are all destined for continued success.

Ross, 50, became the first openly gay head of a major Hollywood studio when he was appointed chairman three years ago, after Dick Cook—who actually greenlit Carter—was axed in 2009.

AltFilmGuide reports:

Budgeted at a reported $250 million—plus another $100 million or whereabouts in marketing expenses —John Carter has brought in $269 million worldwide ($200 million internationally), of which Disney will keep 40-50%, or somewhere around $120-$135 million. The studio will reportedly post a loss this quarter, ranging from $80 to $120 million.

Directed by Andrew Stanton, John Carter stars Battleship‘s Taylor Kitsch in the title role. The film is based on a series of stories written by Tarzan‘s Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Though The Hollywood Reporter hints that Ross’ background in television (he championed High School Musical and Hannah Montana) made it hard for him to gain traction in the studio’s film division, Disney CEO Bob Iger said Ross’ “creative instincts, business acumen and personal integrity have driven results in key businesses for Disney.”

Photos: Disney Enterprises