Saturday, September 19, 2009

Could Dick Cook's lay off cost Disney 4 BILLION dollars ?

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.

Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat

Video: copyright Attractions Magazine and CNBC


Anonymous said...

Someone needs some serious help in the English department.

"...cost Disney $4 Billion dollars?" (used as an adj, Billion does not need to be pluralized, so no "S")

"...Disney DENIED that Dick cook was fired." sentence requires PAST TENSE

"...nobody really BELIEVES..." (singular verbs requires an "S")

"...consequences of Dick Cook's lay off..." (this one could go several ways; I chose the possessive of "Dick Cook" to "layoff")

"one of the most popular EXECUTIVES" (one of many = requires the related noun in the prepositional phrase be plural)

"Depp said he was SHOCKED" -- word is spelled incorrectly

Not to mention some key punctutation mistakes. C'mon Disney and More -- I've just started reading your blog; please take the time to be sure your English usage is correct. Thanks...

Anonymous said...

Back off, English isn't his first language.

Anonymous said...

Dick Cook already gave a statement. He wasn't fired by Disney. He resigned. Johhny Depp is dissapointed, yes, but production on POTC 4 will go forward.
His staff confirmed that Cook said he felt no longer physically fit for the chairman of the studios. He is 59 years old. His departure was already known by Disney and his own staff for some time. This is all on Reuters. Get the facts!

Alain Littaye said...

You must be kidding? Because it's on Reuters, it's necessarily an undeniable fact? If Reuters say there was a new tsunami in Indonesia chances are that it's what happened.

But for this kind of news where the only thing Reuters can do is to refer to officials statements or interview collaborators, it's another problem.

I don't doubt that at 59 Cook felt no longer physically fit to rule the studios (although...), but my feelling - right or wrong - is that it's not the real reason why Dick Cook is leaving right now.

Anonymous said...

"(singular verbs requires an "S")" -- no comment needed...

Anonymous said...

man, looks like Alain hit a nerve...

john321 said...

Although I agree with Alain that there probably is something more behind his resignation than just his age, with all the information that is available right now, we cannot know if he was fired or not.

He may also have left because of some ongoing disputes with some other officials, or maybe even some private reasons that are not directly related to his work.

I'm sure, although, that we will hear some more insider/gossip info about it in the upcoming weeks or months, whether it be true or not.

Anonymous said...

Alain, I love your blog and I visit every single day, but this is pure speculation. Cook resigned, that's a fact (statements from both Cook and Disney execs). Cook's leaving Disney would cost them 4 billion dollars? That's ridiculous. POTC will continue with or without Cook. You're forgetting that POTC is not only a Disney production, it's also a Jerry Bruckheimer production.
Everyone needs to leave the company they work for eventually. We may not know the exact details, but if Disney did fire him, don't you think they thought about the consequences it might have on future projects? Once the dust has cleared, everthing will return to normal.

Alain Littaye said...

Dear anonymous, of course it's pure speculation. Did i say somewhere that this was going to happen for sure?

What i'm just trying to say is that, right now, Depp is probably furious of what happened to Dick Cook who was a friend for him, and more important, a reliable person.
For the reasons i explain in the article, Depp will very probably do Pirates of Caribbean 4, so it should not cost them 4 Billion $.

And of course if Disney did fire Cook they probably thought about the consequences it might have on future projects. That's why it's interesting to note that Dick Cook resigned (or was fired, choose what you prefer) after his D23 Expo presentation and also AFTER Johnny Depp appearance to confirm that POTC 4 is on its way, EVEN if there is eventually no contract signed yet between Depp and the WDC.
On a strategic point of view it's clever that Dick Cook's lay off (or resign, choose what you prefer) happened after Depp's D23 appearance as it will make things more difficult for Johnny to - always eventually - quit the project if he wanted to now that he appeared in person to confirm POTC 4.

Sounds a bit too machiavelic? May be. But don't worry, Johnny will very probably do POTC 4. He will do it because he love to play the character, he will do it for his children, he will do it for his fans but he probably will not do it for Bob Iger.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your explanation, Alain. Keep up the good work with your terrific blog!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your blog, and thought it was funny that Dick Cook's firing could cost Disney 4 billion dollars - too true, when you think about the license fees for POTC products that Disney gets (it's been the only funny thing about this whole story). I also think someone as "corporate" and ruthless as this Iger is (more interested in the company stock) wouldn't get how RELATIONSHIPS factor into a business, so he's probably 1)shocked that anyone would care 2)maybe secretly happy that the big budget POTC and other movies tank, because he is convinced he is right like arrogant people always are.

I'm upset - I love POTC and as one fan noted, it's one of the few series the ENTIRE family can go to and find something to enjoy, from Grandma on down. And because Depp puts a lot of stock into relationships I wouldn't be surprised if Depp walked (along with his friend Tim Burton who also likes Dick Cook). Spielberg is none too thrilled, and article after article talks about how no-one can fill Cook's shoes - not the way he left, anyway. And Disney can kiss my unwanted (not a teenage boy) dollars goodbye. Heck, I was already planning to get to the POTC4 premier - guess I can plan a trip elsewhere - someplace with rum, preferably.