BURBANK, Calif. – Richard W. Cook has been promoted to Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, it was announced today by Disney Chairman and CEO Michael D. Eisner, and Disney President and COO Robert A. Iger.
In his new role, Cook, a 31-year Disney veteran, will head production for the Walt Disney, Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures banners. In addition, he will be responsible for worldwide distribution and marketing for live-action and feature animated films, worldwide home entertainment operations, and the studio’s legal and business affairs. He will report to both Eisner and Iger.
Previously, Cook had served for six years as Chairman, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, overseeing domestic and international theatrical marketing and distribution, feature film acquisition, and worldwide home video.
“I can think of no executive more capable of continuing the Studios’ legacy of creative excellence and box office success than Dick,” Eisner said. “Under his leadership, the Studio has been the number-one domestic distributor seven times since 1990, with 34 of its films grossing more than $100 million domestically. In addition, since its inception in 1993, Buena Vista International has been held the top marketshare position seven times, releasing 30 films that grossed more than $100 million outside the U.S.
“And thanks to Dick and his team, audiences will have much to look forward to with an upcoming slate that includes such outstanding family films such as Lilo & Stitch, The Rookie and Country Bears, as well as thrillers such as Signs, and the much-anticipated action-film Bad Company,” Eisner added.
Added Iger, “Dick is renowned for his skill and experience in theatrical marketing and distribution, as well as his breadth of knowledge regarding all aspects of the film industry, from creative storytelling to exhibition. Equally important, he is rightly respected as a great team-builder, forging strong relationships with industry partners and also building what can only be described as a world-class executive team at The Walt Disney Studios.”
Nina Jacobson, president, Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group; Bruce Hendricks, president, Motion Picture Production; Robert Chapek, president, Buena Vista Home Entertainment; Mark Zoradi, president, Buena Vista International and Home Entertainment International; Charles Viane, president, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution; and Oren Aviv, president, Buena Vista Pictures Marketing also will continue to report to Cook. Thomas Schumacher, president, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Walt Disney Television Animation and Buena Vista Theatrical Group, will continue to work with Eisner and Vice Chairman Roy E. Disney on creative development for Disney animation projects, and will continue his role leading the development and production of Disney’s award-winning stage productions on Broadway and around the world.
Cook began his career at Disney in 1970 as a ride operator at Disneyland. In 1971, he became a Disneyland sales representative and was promoted to manager of sales for the theme park. Cook moved to The Walt Disney Studios in 1977, serving as manager, pay television and non-theatrical releases. In addition, he was responsible for the early planning stages of Disney Channel. In 1980, he was named assistant domestic sales manager for Buena Vista and subsequently became vice president and general sales manager, and then senior vice president of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution in 1988. He added marketing to his responsibilities in 1994.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Cook is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is trustee of the California Institute of the Arts, a trustee of the University of Southern California and also served as president for the USC Alumni Association. Additionally, he is president of the board of trustees of Flintridge Preparatory School and is the recipient of the George Washington Medal of Freedom from the Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge.