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Congrats to Mark Zoradi at Disney

Mark Zoradi, possibly the most powerful movie distribution executive in the world, has just received another promotion within the Walt Disney Studios system. Sadly, it comes on the heels of a 20% overall cut in staff, but in the reorganization, Mark is now the President of the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, where he’ll oversee global distribution and marketing for the studio. Mark is a good friend and is one of the good guys in Hollywood:

Disney’s Studio to Cut 20% of Staff
July 19, 2006

Walt Disney Co.’s studio said it was cutting 650 jobs in a long-awaited overhaul, but in a surprise move, the studio also said it is replacing its head of production.

Disney’s head of marketing, Oren Aviv, will step into the production shoes of Nina Jacobson, who is leaving after eight years at the studio. Mr. Aviv had recently been promoted to the role of the studio’s chief creative officer and is seen as a rising force in Disney’s movie operations.

The changes are part of a strategic shift toward making more Disney-branded fare that appeals to a broad audience, including children, families and adults. Coming after a tough run at the box office and the acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios, Disney said it planned to make 10 Disney-branded and animation movies a year, which will account for nearly all the movies it makes going forward.

The studio meanwhile is dramatically scaling back movies made by its Touchstone label, which was created more than 20 years ago to make more adult fare. Touchstone will now release just two to three titles a year, compared with a previous six or seven.

“This is part of a huge company initiative to concentrate more on the Disney brand,” said Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook.

Despite the success of movies like “The Chronicles of Narnia,” Disney’s earnings have reflected a difficult run for the studio, in part because of tough comparisons and disappointments like “Dark Water” and “The Brothers Grimm.” The studio posted a sharp drop in profit in the past two quarters and a major loss in the final quarter of fiscal 2005.

Mr. Cook said the planned job cuts amount to around 20% of the studio’s staff. The cuts will be divided roughly equally between the U.S. and overseas, he said.

Mr. Cook declined to comment on the circumstances of Ms. Jacobson’s exit, saying only that she was a “fantastic executive.” In a separate statement, Ms. Jacobson, who recently renewed her contract with Disney, said: “The studio is undergoing a major reorganization, and there simply isn’t room for everyone in the new structure.”

As part of the executive reshuffle at the studio, Disney appointed Mark Zoradi as president of Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, overseeing distribution and marketing. Bob Chapek will oversee a newly created world-wide unit encompassing home entertainment. Jim Gallagher will step into Mr. Aviv’s role as head of marketing.

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