Walt Disney Studios chairman Richard Ross was forced to resign after less than three years on the job. “I no longer believe the chairman role is the right professional fit for me,” Ross said in a company-wide email. He had taken over the spot in 2009, after spearheading the Disney Channel’s growth with properties like Hannah Montana and High School Musical. Though Ross didn’t greenlight John Carter, the film’s spectacular failure resulting in a writedown of $200 million played a role in his departure. Deadline Hollywood reported that Ross’s own slate of theatrical features hasn’t debuted yet.
The studio’s live-action units will feel the impact of Ross’s departure more acutely than Disney Feature Animation and Pixar, which are still overseen by Ed Catmull and John Lasseter. In fact, the most notable animation-related decision of Ross’s tenure had nothing to do with Disney Feature or Pixar. Ross will be remembered for shutting down Robert Zemeckis’s mo-cap studio ImageMovers following last year’s Disney bomb Mars Needs Moms.
No replacement has been named, though plenty of names are being floated in the media. Lasseter’s name has been mentioned, though he is considered a longshot for the position.