Disney film studio chief Ross steps down; run included ‘John Carter’ flop

LOS ANGELES, Fri Apr 20, 2012 – Rich Ross has stepped down as chairman of Walt Disney Co’s. movie studio after a less than three-year run that included the release of “John Carter,” one of the biggest flops in recent Hollywood history.

Ross, named to the job in October 2009, was never able to duplicate the success he enjoyed as president of the Disney Channel, where he was credited with creating monster franchises that included “High School Musical” and “Hannah Montana.”

“I no longer believe that the Chairman role is the right professional fit for me,” Ross told his staff in an e-mail.

Disney will not immediately name a new head for its studio, a source familiar with the matter said.

In a statement, Disney CEO Bob Iger said: “For more than a decade, Rich Ross’ creative instincts, business acumen and personal integrity have driven results in key businesses for Disney. … I appreciate his countless contributions throughout his entire career at Disney and expect he will have tremendous success in whatever he chooses to do next.”

As the company’s studio chief, Ross approved production of “John Carter,” an expensive science-fiction epic whose development started years earlier. The film’s costs eventually ballooned to more than $250 million.

Disney said in March it expected the film to lose about $200 million and to saddle its studio with $80 million to $120 million in operating losses.

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