To the outside world it would seem like no big deal, but tongues are wagging in Hollywood that trouble is afoot at Disney Studios. Sadly, in 2009 Bob Iger fired the much liked and stable force of Dick Cook in favor of new blood. Cook had began his career at Disney as a monorail and steam locomotive ride operator and rose through the ranks to become head of Disney. His replacement was Rich Ross, the head of Disney Channel, who had a nice run on cable developing niche content and doing well with Tween audiences.
Enter the problem, is appears Ross doesn’t have the same skill at marketing movies as his vision on television. When “John Carter” came in from the previous regime, his team could be argued had no idea on how to market it. So now this $350 million investment grossed a meager $30.6 million in the US, it made $70 million in non-english nations. What does that mean? maybe Buena Vista International actually had an idea on what to do, and Ross’s team failed massively.
Ross has been controversial, not jiving 100% with talent and executives, often trying to change the business in ways that may need changing, but that may not mean his marketing or executive prowess are top notch. When a company has a huge investment in a big box office tentpole attempt, watering it down with limited marketing, trying to hit wider audiences without a core. Well… it is a recipe for disaster.
Maybe Disney will have a Waterworld on its hands here, doing well enough to not lose its shirt domestically and earn some money internationally to save face and not loss every penny. But one thing is for certain, after MARS NEEDS MOMS and now JOHN CARTER, Disney Studios is on the watch list. Rich Ross will be needing to have real hits otherwise it could be argued that he may need to segway back into television, where he had been very successful.
UPDATE: It looks like the assumption here that the damage at Disney is sinking in. $200 Million dollar loss because this movie tanked big time. While it looks like the NY Post is pointing to THE AVENGERS as a must succeed movie for Disney, the reality is that it was an acquisition from Marvel. If a Marvel movie can’t market itself. Disney is in real trouble.
With Disney’s only major releases this summer being AVENGERS and BRAVE… one must wonder where the movies are? If Rich can’t make cost effective movies which is where his background comes from in niche TV, people will ask why is he running a studio when his tentpole movie’s tank? Time will tell…. and this is probably an unfolding story by fall.
Two great articles to read on Rich Ross & JOHN CARTER: