Disney shuffles deck at struggling studio

AP News
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Posted: Nov 12, 2009 4:58 AM

Marking a renewed focus on the proliferation of ways that movies are delivered to consumers, The Walt Disney Co. has elevated its home video chief to a new distribution role covering all formats.

The changes were announced Wednesday by Rich Ross, who last month replaced Dick Cook as the chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. Cook left after more than a year of disappointing results.

Former home video chief Bob Chapek is taking on the new role of president of distribution, responsible for movies and TV shows across theatrical, home, pay-TV, digital and other formats.

Chapek led development of interactive features on Blu-ray discs and has driven plans for the so-called "KeyChest" technology, which would give consumers access to movies across multiple devices with one purchase.

The company also made former Pixar technology head Greg Brandeau the studios' chief technology officer, while adding to the responsibilities of studios president Alan Bergman and production head Oren Aviv.

A marketing chief to replace outgoing Mark Zoradi, who abruptly resigned Monday, was not named.

The changes come during a tumultuous time at the Disney studios unit, which has seen revenue fall in each of the last five quarters, from $1.82 billion in the March quarter of 2008 to $1.26 billion in the quarter ended in June.

This year, Disney downsized its Miramax Films division, while cutting a deal to release pictures made by Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Studios.

A weak opening for "A Christmas Carol" last weekend also prompted an analyst to predict Disney would write down $50 million to $100 million in the September quarter.

The company is scheduled to report its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings Thursday.

Disney shares gained 17 cents Wednesday to close at $29.29.