BURBANK, Calif. – The Walt Disney Co. is searching for a new studio chief to take the reins following the abrupt resignation Friday of longtime executive Dick Cook.
After nearly four decades with the company, Cook announced Friday that he was stepping down immediately. In a statement, Cook said, “I have been contemplating this for some time now and feel it’s the right time for me to move on to new adventures and in the words of one of my baseball heroes, Yogi Berra, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.””
Cook joined Disney in 1971 and moved up the ranks, becoming president of Buena Vista Pictures distribution in 1988. He became chairman of the studio in 2002.
“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,” he said.
The studio’s recent movies, like “Race to Witch Mountain,” “Bedtime Stories” and “Confessions of a Shopaholic” were box office disappointments. However Cook said he believed that the studio’s slate of upcoming movies is the best in its history.”
Bob Iger, president and chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Co., praised Cook’s work for the studio. “Throughout his distinguished 38-year Disney career, Dick Cook’s outstanding creative instincts and incomparable showmanship have truly enriched this company and significantly impacted Disney’s great legacy,” Iger said. “We thank Dick for his tremendous passion for Disney, and his many accomplishments and contributions to the Walt Disney Studios, including a very promising upcoming film slate.”
It was not immediately known who would replace Cook. A spokeswoman said in an email to the Los Angeles Times, that “when we have something to announce we will announce it.”
Cook’s departure comes just a few weeks after Disney agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year and marks Disney’s biggest acquisition since it purchased Pixar Animation Studios Inc., the maker of “Up” and “Cars,” for $7.4 billion in stock in 2006.