Monday, April 4, 2016

Descending from the Throne: Disney COO Tom Staggs Resigns

The COO of The Walt Disney Company, Tom Staggs, is leaving the Mouse House in May...

Leaving May 6th, Mr. Staggs was long reported to be the favorite, the one to succeed Bob Iger as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, for Iger is set to retire in 2018...

So that begs the question... Who will take over?

Will it be Kathleen Kennedy? Probably not, for she's super-busy being the President of Lucasfilm, a studio that is of course on a real roll right now. By 2018, I suppose she could move on up, but who will take her place? She's fine where she is, what if someone who messes things up takes her place? You can't have the Star Wars wheel of the company possibly get a flat tire.

Who else, really? CFO Christine McCarthy? Film Chairman Alan Horn? I don't see anyone like John Lasseter getting to such a position, but stranger things have happened... Out of all those, I think either Kennedy or Lasseter should be CEO.

He's what Iger had to say...

"Tom has been a great friend and trusted colleague for more than 20 years. He’s made important contributions to this company, earning wide respect across the organization for his achievements and personal integrity. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together, immensely grateful for the privilege of working with him, and confident that he will be enormously successful in whatever opportunity he chooses."

Staggs said that his tenure was "a great experience to work with Bob during this dynamic era of unprecedented growth and transformation. I remain grateful for that opportunity, and I’m confident that Disney’s future will be just as exciting as its legendary past."

He's right about one thing... Bob Iger has transformed the company into a bigger beast than it ever was, acquiring Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and expanding several other areas of the company. Financially Iger has done so much good for the company, artistically he's done some good, some bad, some ugly. I just hope, I just hope... Whoever replaces him knows how to do things, and at least has vision.

Iger, to me, has been a decent-to-good CEO for the most part. There are some byproducts of his decision-making that I'm definitely not fond of, but the company is at a high each year. Despite my annoyances with the current regime (lack of original live-action films, 2D feature animation being killed again, et al.), there's a consistent stream of pretty good-quality stuff, whether it's Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel, or Lucasfilm stuff, the TV and theme park sides of things, the whole nine yards.

His run has been pretty consistent, I can't say the same about Michael Eisner, whose administration got the company into some dire straits, leaving many a fan disillusioned and Roy E. Disney himself angry enough to launch a campaign against him. Ron Miller was promising, but the Saul Steinberg disaster and other problems derailed what could've been an interesting, if not ambitious run. That's to say nothing of what was going on at the studio throughout the 1970s.

So oddly enough, yes, I'd say our current Disney CEO is the best. But of course, even the best of this era won't come close to what went on when Walt was alive. Getting a good replacement might be tough...

The plot thickens.

What do you think will happen?


  1. In Iger's defense, I honestly don't think the killing off of 2D was his fault. I think that Disney Animation was (and still is) just having too much fun with the CG method, which is pretty understandable. I'm sure they still want to do a movie with that Meander technique as well.

  2. By the way, I still can't believe you're buying into the story that 2D animation was "killed off" at Disney. Apparently, it's still being used at the studio, and hopefully Moana brings it back in a big way (I know the 2D animation is just on the tattoos, but so what? If a live-action/animation hybrid like Who Framed Roger Rabbit could bring back hand-drawn animation in the late 80's, then why can't a hand-drawn/CGI hybrid like Moana do the same?

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    2. Alright, first off, where did I say in the article that Iger himself killed 2D? I said it was axed during his tenure, an unfortunate byproduct, and that was mostly the fault of Rich Ross and what executives think when they see the numbers from 2000-onwards. It has nothing to do with the directors wanting to do their pictures in CG, despite what's said in interviews. Why is that? I listened to a very recent Bancroft Brothers podcast, featuring Nik Raineri, one that was specifically about what's going on with 2D at Disney. As I suspected, whenever people from the studio say "It's up to the directors and if they want to do their films in 2D", they're saying that because it's PR-friendly. That's what they are saying, I'm relaying the information, I relay what I hear that's legitimate. It's currently a no-go there from what I'm hearing, as it's only used for shorts, experiments, and maybe a thing or two in a feature film. FROG/WINNIE's box office sealed the deal. FROZEN was meant to be 2D from the start, had to be a CG film per mandate - the project was resurrected after TANGLED showed management that fairy tales aren't old news - but it was no longer the 2D film as envisioned. Not because it had "action scenes on ice" or whatever, but because of executive orders. It's what they said. MOANA was announced as a 2D film in 2012 after Ross' boot, but the picture is mainly a CG film.

      Here's an excerpt from the Bancroft Bros. ep., at roughly 46 minutes into the episode: "I don't think 2D, let's be literal here, I don't think 2D IS their thing anymore. They don't have animation desks, they don't have the employees anymore. The people that know how to do it. Well they have some employees, but they're still trying to pretend that they have a thriving 2D unit there... It's a publicity stunt. There's 5 traditional animators left there. And what do they end up doing? Those guys... but they end up doing, like helping things, like run cycles or character tests on the films..."

      Here's a link to the ep.:

      Their words, not mine.

      Secondly, I highly doubt 2D tattoos on one character in a feature film will bring back 2D just like that. (And whenever I suggest on here that 2D can be brought back, I'm usually told that it's just not going to happen and that we folks need to see reality. Which is it? Can it come back? Or never ever? I say 2D is currently not happening it's called stupid talk, when I say it could come back, I'm deluded. Again, which is it?) If MOANA is some kind of unexpected hybrid where 2D/traditional is all throughout the picture, maybe there's a chance. Who knows. (cont)

    3. (cont) Furthermore, ROGER RABBIT did NOT bring back 2D animation. 2D animation didn't even die in the 1980s, in terms of the features. That's a myth, animation did quite well throughout the 70s and into the early 80s. 2D was the dominant medium then, sure American feature animation hit a rough patch in the 1982-1985 period, but Don Bluth's AN AMERICAN TAIL was a smash hit in 1986, and GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE did pretty well, as did re-issues of the Disney animated classics, and all of that plus video sales of Disney films in the mid-80s was what convinced executives (namely Eisner/Katzenberg) to keep investing big money into the medium. ROGER RABBIT just simply kept the train going. AMERICAN TAIL's success, a non-Disney film no less, was what convinced Disney's execs to really take the medium seriously, hence OLIVER & COMPANY and LITTLE MERMAID going into high gear.

      So from what I know, and I only want to take away from reputable resources and not hearsay or elsewhere, a fully 2D feature is not going to be made for the time being because the higher-ups have no interest, they seem to have the same attitudes towards it that they had in the early 2000s. Yes, miracles can happen, strange things have happened in the world of film and art when it seems like all hope is lost. I am not a fly on the wall at WDAS. Maybe there ARE talks of a future 2D film, maybe there aren't. But I go by what I hear and I've seen happen over the years, 2D "can" come back (at Disney or elsewhere), but right now the situation appears to be sticky. Carry on.

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    5. Alright, let's start over... Bob Iger has nothing against traditional animation. He appointed a guy to run the film division in 2009, and that guy didn't have a clue what he was doing. 2D was axed by him and poor decision-making, and because of that not-so-successful revival, it got sent packing - per those aforementioned reports.

      Iger can't be arrested for keeping an art form from being used at Disney. This era is actually quite good, with or without hand-drawn at Disney. Yes, 2D being a proverbial Sleeping Beauty right now is an irksome truth, but it isn't dead forever. When an art form gets killed, it can be resurrected. Things change, we've seen it happen all the time at the Mouse House. The early 2000s attitude persists, and it doesn't help that CGI's highest highs at the box office are extremely high - like $1 billion high. Right now I feel it's going to take an outsider to start some kind of movement, similar to how Don Bluth wanted to inject Walt-esque principles back into animation in the first half of the 1980s. Now I get "that'll never happen" when I suggest that, but stranger things have happened, and one never says never.

      Deep breathe, deep breathe. An art form can't just stay away altogether. Someone's going to notice, someone's going to say something, it's only a matter of when. My hope is that we get a CEO that sees beyond the 2000s stuff/2D stigma, and goes all-out. We need risk-taking, not "do only what sells". (Hence the disappearance of other things like more original live-action films, Muppet movies, etc.) I like Iger, but that's his biggest problem... But when you're the CEO of a company that just keeps getting bigger, that pesky conventional wisdom says stick to the bread and butter. Who knows, maybe there are talks of 2D at WDAS, I go by what I hear and what's gone on in the past.

    6. Okay, sorry if I was crazy. But, does Klaus count as a 2d film even if it looks different?

  3. I wish that the new CEO will made the shareholder meetings important not like what iger do this year

  4. I think John Lasseter should be the new CEO after Iger retires. Or even Jeffrey Katzenberg, thought it would probably be impossible for Katzenberg to be CEO since he is currently the CEO of DreamWorks Animation.

  5. Kennedy and Lasseter would be the best choices where the film division is concerned, but making them heads of the company would give them control over the whole thing: the parks, the TV networks, the merchandise, etc. And there's the whole question of whether or not either of them actually want the job.

    At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if Alan Horn got the job. He's got a track record in Hollywood that goes at least as far back as his days working for Norman Lear, and WB, where he used to be head of the studio, has been in a tailspin since he defected to Disney.

    1. Well, whoever is going to be the next CEO, I hope there will be someone that has great respect of Disney including Mickey Mouse, hand drawn animation (Even if it's going to be on computers instead of papers), andother things. And someone must try not to be a greedy miser.