Rich Ross Out At Walt Disney: Casualty Of John Carter

Rich Ross, former chairman of Walt Disney has resigned. In an email to his staff, Ross wrote: “I no longer believe that the chairman role is the right professional fit for me.”

Ross went on to say, “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.”

The shake-up comes as no surprise to many who believe Ross’s position became untenable after the huge losses incurred by sci-fi extravaganza, John Carter. Ross’s less than robust handling of the film as it lurched from budget overspends, extended re-shoots and an incoherent marketing campaign, saw the budget spiral past $ 250 million – not counting the millions spent on marketing.

After the March 9 release of John Carter and its resulting $ 184 million worldwide box office, Disney made a statement declaring they expected “ the film to generate an operating loss of approximately $200 million during our second fiscal quarter ending March 31.“

If there is a “shock” element to today’s news, it’s that Ross is exiting just as things are looking up at Chez Disney. The Lone Ranger and Oz The Great And Powerful, two films coming down the pipeline are expected to do serious business, not to mention the roaring success of Avengers Assemble. But clearly Bob Iger – CEO at Disney, who hand-picked Ross to replace Dick Cook as Chairman of Walt Disney in 2004 – and the accountants in the back-room, wants to restore confidence in the studio.

Thus ends Ross’s over 15 year career within the Disney empire, 8 years as President of Disney Channels Worldwide and just over 2 and half years as Chairman of Walt Disney studios. Ross’s past successes at the Disney Channel with hit franchises Hannah Montana and High School Musical, (and at Walt Disney) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides now apparently superseded by current events. In a notably cut throat industry, the legacy of John Carter – once touted as only the beginning of a lucrative franchise – is Rich Ross as its first human casualty.

Taylor Kitsch as John Carter