Saturday, September 19, 2009
Since last friday Disney denied that Dick Cook was fired. Alas, it seems that nobody really believes that Cook decided by himself to resign from the Walt Disney Studios, "effective immediately". But could the consequences of Dick Cook's lay off finally cost Disney 4 Billion dollars?
Dick Cook was one of the most popular executives at Hollywood, and even more than that, he was loved by a lot of influent directors/actors, and many more. Cook was "a crucial player when it came to persuading Steve Jobs and others to bring Pixar into the Disney fold" and for Steven Spielberg Dick Cook "was a major reason why him and Stacey Snider brought the new DreamWorks to Disney" and Steven seems to be "devastated" by the news of Cook's departure.
Johnny Depp said he was "shocked" because Cook was "a friend inside an insane system" and because the Pirates of Caribbean movies were "all born in Cook's office".
But Johnny had also other words about the next Pirates of Caribbean movie that should ring a bell inside Iger's head: In a phone interview from London Johnny said "There's a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment..." And in a Los Angeles Times interview Depp is "questioning whether he'll want to continue playing his key role in Pirates of the Carribean sequels without Cook heading the studio".
Now, do you have any idea how much money Disney did with the first Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy? Here are the numbers for the "worldwide grosses":
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: $654 M
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: $961 M
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: $1.066 B
Total: $2.681 Billion. And this is ONLY for worldwide theatres grosses, it doesn't count all the DVD and Blu-Ray sales AND all the money from POTC merchandise products. I don't have the numbers for these but with them we're probably close to $4 Billion.
According that the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie "On Stranger Tides" - which seems to be an adaptation from Tim Powers book - should be the first episode of a new trilogy, do you understand how devastating it could be for the WDC if Johnny Depp was finally saying "NO" to Pirates of the Caribbean 4th episode (and so to the next trilogy)? That's right: the WDC could say goodbye to the next 4 Billion dollars! And 4 billion dollars is really a lot of money, even for the WDC. In fact, it's exactly the amount that Disney paid one month ago when they acquired Marvel Entertainment!
I know, Johnny was at Dick Cook's D23 Expo presentation a week ago and did a fantastic appearance all dressed in Jack Sparrow - as you can see on the video below from Attractions Magazine - to announce, precisely, "On Stranger Tides". But, you see, may be the contract between Johnny Depp and the WDS is not signed yet... Probably Johnny said that "he will be pleased to play Jack Sparrow again as long as there is a good script and a good director"...but i doubt that the script is already finalised. And as long as there is no final contract, Johnny can do whatever he want. And one thing is sure: Johnny, right now, is very, very, VERY unhappy about Dick Cook's lay off.
Although Johnny love to play Jack Sparrow, he don't really need money and probably have enough now so he can choose to work only with people he like. But he love the Jack Sparrow character, and he love to play it for his children. And Johnny Depp also have a lot of respect for his fans. So all this will probably save the project...but you never know until the contract is signed...
So, is Dick Cook's lay off Bob Iger's first big mistake? Time will tell, but he should pray that Johnny Depp don't decide to "resign, effective immediately" from the next Pirates of Caribbean trilogy. Because, if Johnny does, then yes, Dick Cook lay off will have cost 4 Billion dollars to the Walt Disney Company.
Before we end this article, here is what is probably one of Dick Cook's last interview. Recorded at D23 Expo by Julia Boorstin for CNBC, Cook was explaining his strategy for years to come, and also talk about 3D.
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Video: copyright Attractions Magazine and CNBC