Rich Ross, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios, just lost his job. That’s what happens when you greenlight two of recent history’s costliest box office bombs, last year’s Mars Needs Moms and this year’s John Carter. They turned out to be space adventures Ross could have done without. A few numbers: Mars Needs Moms cost $150 million and took only $39 million worldwide; John Carter has recently been somewhat redeemed financially due to very healthy overseas numbers, but is still considered a failure and a foolishly risky project for Disney.
According to the L.A. Times, Ross, a former TV executive, never really found his mojo as a film chief. Jerry Bruckheimer has his own theory as to why Ross failed: “You have to get people off their couches and go spend 12 bucks to go to a movie. With the Disney Cable Channel it is easy to do — people just turn on their TVs.” One of Ross’s key mistakes was apparently firing too many seasoned veterans and hiring too many other people who didn’t know the movie business.
Disney continues to fascinate. A few years ago I enjoyed “Disney War”, James B. Stewart’s very entertaining chronicle of Michael Eisner’s rise and fall. There’s just something very satisfying to take part in the dirty intrigues behind the scenes of the world’s most “family-friendly” corporation. We’ll just have to wait and see how Walt Disney Co. chairman Bob Iger digs himself out of the current hole.