Ahead of Earnings Disney Restructures Studio


Ahead of Disney's earnings, due after the bell Thursday, the Magic Kingdom announced a major movie studio restructuring, reorganizing its marketing, distribution and operations and announcing promotions and new positions.

CEO Bob Iger has blamed the studio's disappointing performance over the past year or so on weak product and marketing. This is just the latest step to focus and streamline the studio on Disney-branded, franchise-friendly movies.

The former head of Disney's Home Entertainment division, Bob Chapek, is being promoted to president of distribution, overseeing distribution across all platforms, including theatrical, pay TV and digital distribution. This speaks volumes to the new emphasis Disney is putting on digital and other distribution revenues to supplement DVD sales. President of Walt Disney Studios Alan Bergman is taking on oversight of studio franchises; post production, plus the Disneynature film label and the Muppets studio. And the company's creating a new role — chief technology officer — for Pixar veteran Greg Bandeau, to focus on new media and technology opportunities.

Today's restructuring announcement follows a long string of changes at the studio, starting with longtime veteran Dick Cook stepping down under pressure in September. Cook was replaced early last month by Rich Ross, who had run the global Disney Channel business, with great success. Earlier this week the president of Walt Disney Motion Pictures group, Mark Zoradi left. Daniel Battsek, President of Miramax Films stepped down last month as Disney did major layoffs and And of course this all follows the news in August that Disney is acquiring Marvel Entertainment.

This announcement raises questions about what we can expect to hear from Disney about the studio's performance in the most recent quarter. It seems the studio's likely to report another quarter of weaker earnings as accounts for hefty marketing costs of its recent "Christmas Carol" release but not any of the revenue.

I'll have another blog coming soon outlining what *else* to expect from tomorrow's earnings and post-earnings call.

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