In a shock move, Walt Disney Studios head Dick Cook left the company on Friday after seven years in charge.
Cook's departure seems unusually-timed, given that Disney has made some major acquirements over the past year or so, with the DreamWorks and Marvel deals. But, while Cook himself said in an official statement that he had decided to step down after 38 years as a Disney employee, the rumour mill is claiming that he might not have had a lot to say about leaving.
Earlier in the year, Disney president and CEO Robert Iger had criticised the film studio for a sharp drop in income (around 97%), but the likes of Up and The Proposal had seemed to weather the storm. Yet perhaps, it was too little, too late.
"I have been contemplating this for some time now and feel it’s the right time for me to move on to new adventures," said Cook, in his statement. "I have loved every minute of my 38 years that I have worked at Disney from the beginning as a ride operator on Disneyland's steam train and monorail to my position as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios... But most of all, I love the people, my colleagues, my teammates, who are the most talented, dedicated and loyal folks in the world. I know that I leave the studio in their exceptional hands."
Iger thanked Cook "for his tremendous passion for Disney, and his many accomplishments and contributions", which include the launch of 63 films with grosses exceeding $100m. "Dick Cook's outstanding creative instincts and incomparable showmanship have truly enriched this company and significantly impacted Disney's great legacy," he said.
Now the hunt for Cook's successor begins, with Variety suggesting that Marvel's Kevin Feige, Stacey Snider of DreamWorks and Rich Ross of The Disney Channel are among the frontrunners. But some Disney insiders are saying that all John Lasseter has to do to get the job is to say that he wants it. As ever, readers, watch this space for further developments.