Miramax Films to Lose President, New York Roots

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It’s now being widely reported that troubled Miramax Films is following suit with Walt Disney Studios in that its President, Daniel Battsek, is set to resign in January. While it’s officially a ‘mutual’ move, some sources claim Battsek is being forced out due to bad performance by the label. This — of course — follows hotly on the heels of Dick Cook leaving the Walt Disney Studios just over a month ago.

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Disney to Build New Production Facility at Golden Oak Ranch

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – The Walt Disney Co. plans to build a 12-stage production facility at its Golden Oak Ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley, northwest of Los Angeles, primarily to serve the production needs of ABC Studios.

Disney and ABC Studios have filed applications with Los Angeles County for Disney/ABC Studios at the Ranch, a high-tech soundstage and production facility. The facility, which would include six pairs of soundstages, would take up 56 acres in the western tip of the 890-acre Gold Oak Ranch.

Disney has only two soundstage facilities, one on the Disney lot, which has virtually no usable outdoor space, and one at its Prospect Studios.

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Disney Institute 2010 Open-Enrollment Schedule Now Posted Online

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Oct. 26  — The 2010 schedule for Disney Institute open enrollment programs is now available at www.disneyinstitute.com. Located under the Web site’s “Events” tab, the extended calendar offers increased flexibility for professionals who want to book training through the end of the coming year.

Open-enrollment programs include three- and five-day programs available at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and a series of one-day programs offered at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. One- and three-day programs are dedicated to specific topics such as quality service, leadership excellence, people management, brand loyalty, and inspiring creativity. The five-day programs dedicate a day to each of the five core Disney Institute curricula.

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Tough Jobs: Taking the Store out of ‘The Disney Store’

With an economy in the red, The Disney Store appears to have carte blanche with a blue sky concept in which new and existing Disney Stores will feel less like a store and more like a miniature Walt Disney World. The New York Times recently explored some of the potential of the new retail-less shops as provoked by Apple co-founder and Disney board member Steve Jobs.

At a proposed cost of nearly $1M per store for the makeover, innovations include embedded chips in products that invoke interaction with the store’s environment. A concept that’s not too entirely off given the pending reality of RFID chips being introduced en mass to the retail market for inventory control and quick checkouts.

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Disney Executive George Kalogridis Named President of the Disneyland Resort

ANAHEIM, Calif., Oct. 12  — George Kalogridis, a 38-year Disney veteran and former Disneyland executive, has been named president of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. Kalogridis most recently served as chief operating officer for Disneyland Resort Paris, where he was responsible for leading the operations team and overseeing the highly successful 15th anniversary celebration of the resort.

Kalogridis, 55, will report to Al Weiss, president of Worldwide Operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. He replaces Ed Grier, who is retiring from the company.

“George is a proven strategic thinker whose operational expertise and strong leadership skills will serve him well in leading the Disneyland Resort,” said Weiss. “We are excited to welcome him back to California and look forward to his leadership as we continue to expand and grow this beloved place.”

From 2000 to 2002, Kalogridis served as senior vice president of Resort Operations for the Disneyland Resort, where he played a significant role in the first expansion of the resort – the opening of Disney’s California Adventure park and Downtown Disney. In addition, he was responsible for the daily operations of both theme parks and three hotels, as well as Downtown Disney.

“I am thrilled to be returning to Disneyland, particularly during this exciting time of significant expansion,” said Kalogridis. “I look forward to working with the Cast who make the magic for our Guests everyday and partnering with the Orange County community to ensure the Anaheim Resort Area continues to thrive.”

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Disney Theatrical: 20K Licensees Enter The Scene

Editor’s Note: Please don’t let the horrible title take away from the significance of this momentous occasion. They can’t all be winners.

Variety recently reported that Disney Theatrical has licensed its full-lengthed and abridged staged versions of its Broadway and Film classics aimed at elementary schools through professionals to 20,000 licensees to date.

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Disney Channel President Rich Ross Named New Chairman of Walt Disney Studios

Rich Ross (Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company)BURBANK, Calif., October 5, 2009 — Rich Ross, President of Disney Channels Worldwide, has been named Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, it was announced today by Disney President and CEO Robert A. Iger.

Ross will oversee worldwide production, distribution and marketing for the company’s range of live-action and feature animated film labels, including Walt Disney, Touchstone, Miramax and Disney/Pixar. In his new role, which he assumes immediately, he will also head Disney’s theatrical and music groups.

In his thirteen years at Disney, Ross has consistently created hit original programming, effectively expanded a worldwide creative and distribution organization, skillfully built the Disney brand with global franchises that work across borders and technology platforms and put in place a strong management team.

“Rich has an outstanding record of creating high-quality family entertainment that delights audiences around the world,” said Iger. “With his success in building the Disney brand across many of our businesses, his astute marketing sensibility, his proven ability in working effectively with talent and his skill at navigating complex global markets, I’m confident he’s the perfect leader for our studio group.”

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Report: Dick Cook Burned; POTC4 Now on Rocky Seas

A reader sent me a link to this article which, through various updates. states that Dick Cook is shopping the idea around town that he was forced out although — other than the obvious shock to several systems — has no apparent corroboration. The article is updated to include reported reactions from several, including Johnny Depp who cites Cook as a reason for the entire POTC franchise.

Thank you for the link.

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Disney Interactive Studios Acquires Wideload Games, Inc; Halo Creator Seropian

Wideload Games CEO Alexander SeropianBURBANK, Calif. — Disney Interactive Studios announced today it has agreed to acquire Wideload Games Inc., a Chicago-based producer and developer of original interactive entertainment. As part of the agreement, industry veteran and creative visionary Alexander Seropian, Wideload Games founder and CEO, will join Disney Interactive Studios in the newly created role of vice president of creative, leading the company’s global creative efforts. Seropian, who is relocating to Glendale, Calif., is renowned as the founder of Bungie Software and was among the creators of the highly successful Halo® series – one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. Seropian will report directly to Global Product Development Senior Vice President Jean-Marcel Nicolai, and be tasked with overseeing creative development across Disney Interactive Studios’ portfolio of video games.

“Wideload Games is among the premier small creative game development studios in the world. Wideload Games will be a great fit for our portfolio of internal studios, and Alex joining the global product development team provides the entire Disney game portfolio with a strong creative influence,” said Graham Hopper, executive vice president and general manager, Disney Interactive Studios. “Alex has built his reputation around the power of original thinking. In leading the studio that created Halo, he helped turn great storytelling, exceptional design and polished gameplay into the ‘killer app’ for Xbox. Alex’s leadership of our creative community will enhance our ability to be a magnet for the best talent in the industry and enable the company to take an even more significant role in developing industry leading products.”

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Disney-Marvel Deal has $140M Termination Fee

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Marvel Entertainment Inc (MVL.N) would have to pay the Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) a termination fee of $140 million if it terminates a proposed merger with Disney, according to a securities filing on Friday.

The $4 billion merger agreement, announced on Monday, contains termination rights for Disney and Marvel, including Marvel’s right to stop the merger to pursue a “superior deal,” the Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Marvel said.

Marvel has agreed, however, not to solicit other merger offers, the filing said. It may be required to pay Disney a termination fee of $140 million under “specified circumstances,” the filing said.

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