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Exclusive: Disney's Dick Cook on Spielberg and the Oscars


I sat down for an exclusive interview with Dick Cook the Chair of Walt Disney Studios, who brokered the studio's big distribution deal with DreamWorks, Disney's first interview since the deal was announced.

Disney's big news this week was from its Parks and Resorts division which Wednesday night announced a major restructuring, which will include layoffs.

It will reorganize its U.S. resort operation, streamlining and cost-cutting. This comes on the heels of the division offering voluntary buyouts to about 600 of its executives and as the park's discounts continue (when you buy four nights, get three free). And Disney's ABC network cut 200 jobs and eliminated another 200 that hadn't been filled.

In light of these layoffs at Disney's other divisions and the job cuts going on around Hollywood I asked Cook if he had any cutbacks planned. His answer? No, Disney's studio did its major restructuring two years ago, when the studio focused in on Disney brand movies and cut down on the number it produced every year to about twelve. He acknowledged there might be some tweaks down the line, but for now Disney doesn't plan any job cuts.

The big news, of course, from Disney's studio, is its big distribution deal with DreamWorks. Disney will get about 10 percent of revenue as a distribution fee and DreamWorks will get access to Disney's Disney’s distribution and marketing machine and a roughly $100 million loan. I'm wondering if distributing these six new films will change the rest of the studios development mix—Cook insists it wont, but that they're a natural complement.

I've been hearing rumors that Disney was interested in selling its Miramax specialty division —now that the studio will get six live action films from DreamWorks, it seems it would be less relevant. But Cook again insists that Miramax isn't going anywhere—they appreciate that its films have achieved great critical acclaim in the last few years (sweeping the 2008 Oscars). And the fact that the specialty shingle has been slimmed down means it's worth keeping it around.

Disney Studios Chief Cook

As to this Sunday's Oscars, Cook tells me that for Disney, a win means more for its bragging rights than for its bottom line. But one thing's for sure, Disney was sure hoping that "Wall-E" would be nominated for Best Picture, and not just Best Animated film.

Here are clips from my exclusive for the web interview with Cook:


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