Disney’s Dick Cook Departure Conjurs Lasseter and Depp Speculation

So, I’m sure you all heard Disney’s studio chairman Dick Cook stepped down last Friday leaving a vacancy at the head of the company that shocked many, especially after all the hoopla regarding Disney’s $4 billion acquisition of Marvel. The latest word I’ve read is that Cook wasn’t fired or even necessarily pushed out as much as he simply didn’t see eye-to-eye with Disney CEO Bob Iger and instead of butting heads or running a company any other way than he would like to he decided to step down, leaving a void at the top of the company.

I didn’t originally report on the news because, outside of the novelty of discussing box-office numbers, I don’t like talking about the financial side of movies. At least not the down and dirty corporate business. Occasionally a film’s budget can stir some interesting conversation such as how can a movie that reportedly cost $250 million to make be so bad? But for the most part this kind of talk just becomes boring and we aren’t really talking about movies any longer.

However, a sense of responsibility and an increasing amount of speculation has caused me to enter into this particular fray.

The number one name on everyone’s lips right now is Pixar/Disney animation chief John Lasseter as a potential replacement for Cook. Would Lasseter want to leave his post and begin negotiating deals with Jerry Bruckheimer and Scott Rudin? Entering him into the world of live-action movies and figuring out just what direction to take the National Treasure and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises?

Speaking of Pirates of the Caribben, one man that’s none-too-happy about Cook’s departure is one Johnny Depp, which has movie bloggers speculating.

Talking to Claudia Eller at the Los Angeles Times Depp said, “When things went a little sideways on the first Pirates movie and others at the studio were less than enthusiastic about my interpretation of the character, Dick was there from the first moment. He trusted me.”

As for Depp’s expected participation in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, a film he had promoted as recently as seven days earlier at Disney’s D23 conference by showing up in his complete Jack Sparrow costume, Depp said while he has a potential deal in place that will depend on how good the script is, his passion for the project at the moment has been severely dampened by the news that Cook will no longer be around. “There’s a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment,” Depp said.

Depp’s words seem reactionary and something anyone would say that has found friendship, but I am sure it has Disney suits sweating a little bit considering a Pirates movie wouldn’t really be a Pirates movie without Depp’s stumbling swagger.

For more on the conversation you can read Marc Graser’s latest column on Cook’s departure at Variety where he goes further into the Lasseter conversation and Nikki Finke was covering all the rumors and speculation around the situation with five updates in her piece.


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