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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

On:           Apr 22, 2012
Tagged: , , , , , ,
    • brixnation

      Resigns? More like fired. Get your news right, Queerty.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MEJ

      Was John Carter as bad as all that, or was the story just not popular enough to warrant that kind of budget?

      Apr 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ogre Magi

      It was actually a pretty good movie, who ever came up with the add campaign is the real villian!

      Apr 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MikeE

      @MEJ: I thoroughly enjoyed the film.
      Disney’s problem was that they very very badly planned their advertising campaign for the film.

      I am certain this film will become a huge hit when it comes out on DVD next month. It was well-written, the acting was more than adequate, the special effects were beautiful, etc… it worked, it was fun.

      It really doesn’t come across as a “disney film” at all. I was actually surprised while watching it and thought “really? this is a Disney film?”.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Red Assault

      Movie effects were great. Story was ok. Acting was dreadful.

      More importantly, the marketing was such a colossal mess that nobody had any idea what it was about. It looked like a children’s gladiator movie.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Red Meat

      If it was him who made the call on marketing than he did the right thing by resigning.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jay

      This guy clearly got fired.

      I did not see John Carter since I had no desire to see it or pay to see it in a theater; but yeah the marketing was a total mess.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LittIe,Kiwi

      what’s unfair is that John Carter was given the greenlight before Ross came on board….boourns.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • realgay

      Is there such a thing as a gay man with fortitude? It seems gay men fold whenever the pressure is on. I would like to root for these guys yet whenever I do they quickly disappear.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • QJ201

      I’m sure he was paid enough to never have to work again a day in his life.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • planeturanus

      100 bucks Ross fucked Joe

      Apr 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kayo

      @MEJ: This was a great movie, the story was very interesting and original. I suppose marketing is to blame, because it’s a very well made movie. It’s not your typical action stupid arse movie, with a relatively unknown actor, I guess that’s why people didn’t flock like sheep to see the movie.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JKB

      @Ogre Magi: @Kayo: Yes, I really enjoyed this movie too. True, I only went to see it because John Carter is hot, but the movie was well worth it.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 6:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David Ehrenstein

      @planeturanus: I was thinking the same thing. He ost the studio but gained Joe Jonas.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MEJ

      Great…Everyone’s comments here makes me want to see it now. Guess I’ll wait for the DVD.

      And I guess the points about the marketing is spot on, because I only saw one commercial for this, and that left me wondering what the hell it was about, but not curious enough to see it.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 7:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jay

      First gay studio head? Not even close. John Goldwyn, Donald DeLine, and the list goes ever on. Catchy headline, but unresearched headline. Not to even mention Geffen.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 8:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dan Avery

      @Jay: While John Goldwyn was a studio head at Paramount, it appears he was married to Colleen Camp at the time. (They didn’t divorce until 2001.) David Geffen was a co-owner of Dreamworks SKG, but it doesn’t look like he was technically a studio head. Ross has been widely credited as the first openly gay head of a major studio in the mainstream press. If I reported erroneously, I apologize.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 8:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chadboy

      Why is it when someone has a big title they resign, but someone lower on the totem pole is fired? Rich Ross was fired. If he didn’t agree to resign he would have been fired.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 9:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Abel

      JOHN CARTER was a good movie. I took a number of kids to see it, and they, as well as I, really enjoyed it. I do think it was marketed wrong. Someday, like CLEOPATRA, it will have made back its money and more. It will be interesting to see how well it does on video.

      Apr 22, 2012 at 9:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Interesting

      a lot of this wasn’t just marketing, but also industrial perception and fan boy buzz factor online

      Yes marketing can change that, but its hard to do that once the fan boys get their claw out

      also its hard to do when the industrial rags are all ragging on a movie

      take water world- if one were to read about it before hand it was the worst movie ever, and yet, it really wans’t that bad. it was okay. not great, but certainly one could have seen worse

      perception kills

      Apr 22, 2012 at 11:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bob

      NO ONE wanted to see the movie, after seeing the advertising.
      Goes to show that Gays are as suseptible as straights to “the Peter Principle”

      Apr 23, 2012 at 3:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TheBippi

      Actually, the real culprit to blame for the haphazard marketing is Disney’s newish national ad agency business which went to Carat & Publicis (formerly with Starcom). I have been working in the entertainment biz behind the scenes for many of the major studios ad business with their agencies and after the switch from Starcom it seems the ball has been dropped. Disney (and the execs in charge of their marketing with the contracts of their named agency) made a poor decision in reviewing it’s Named Agency in 2011. John Carter is an example of the mess that happened when it changed hands over to new blood who knew nothing about the business nor had the acumen to handle it. John Carter was previously titled John Carter of Mars, then JCOM and in the end as John Carter. I have a feeling had the kept the original name it wouldn’t have pissed off the true fans and who knows what else. But this is only my speculation having come from behind the scenes of the biz.

      Apr 23, 2012 at 4:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gus

      The problem with ‘John Carter’ is it seemed derivative when the book was the original. Every movie of this genre has stolen from the book and made the story line seem old fashioned.

      Apr 23, 2012 at 5:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TheBippi

      @TheBippi: Point of Reference: http://adage.com/article/agency-news/disney-splits-1b-media-review-carat-publicis/149230/ Blame shifts to MT Carney, the new head of Disney marketing stationed in their Burbank location. She is not having a good streak thus far and it will trickle down eventually!

      Apr 23, 2012 at 5:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MikeE

      @Gus: Had the suits at Disney had one collective neuron, they would have USED that simple fact to their advantage in the advertising of John Carter of Mars.

      The film is based on the books that started it all.

      THIS is where all modern sci-fi originated.

      I thoroughly enjoyed it. The acting was far better than in many other films of the same genre.

      And considering every other sci-fi film contains some of the DNA of JCoM, meaning “we’ve already basically seen it all, the film was still surprisingly fresh.

      Apr 23, 2012 at 6:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark


      MT Carney left Disney months ago.

      Ross was a terrible leader. According to Deadline, he didn’t understand the movie business. He can from Disney TV. Deadline claims that Ross was into the celebrity scene and did not understand how to lead and manage a studio.

      “John Carter” may have been greenlit by a prior regime but the marketing for the movie was terrible. That was apparent from the first commercials that were rolled out nearly a year before the film was released. Instead of refocusing marketing efforts, the studio continued on its doomed path.

      The movie itself is a decent popcorn flick. Where $200 million went, however, doesn’t show up on the screen.

      Apr 23, 2012 at 9:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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