I’ve been hearing about this for a few weeks and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. It’s true that John Lasseter was unhappy with Disney’s marketing of John Carter — so was everyone else. And I think it’s true that Lasseter did not, in general, think highly of Rich Ross and I could see how that could contribute to Ross’s firing — especially when Steven Spielberg and others had a problem with Ross as well.
But now the rumor mill is pumping out stories that Lasseter is in a feud with Disney Corp CEO Bob Iger and I’m having a bit more trouble swallowing that one. However it’s become more important recently to the John Carter universe because Lasseter is increasingly seeming like the Last Best Hope within Disney to at least potentially champion a John Carter sequel. Iger has made comments which make it clear that he would never approve such a thing. Anyway, here is the original link reporting the feud, and here is what it says:
Details are understandably scarce and sometimes vague, but I’ve been able to gather various pieces of information and fit them together. First, it should be noted that Bob Iger, CEO and Chairman of the board of The Walt Disney Company, has already announced his intent to retire and move on to the next phase of his life, presumably as a politician (no, really, that’s what I’m hearing). By March 31st, 2015 an announcement of his successor will take place and the new CEO will take the reigns of the company.
So how could that timeline be accelerated? As discussed on the rumor segment of the DIS Unplugged, apparently Iger, affectionately referred to as “the weather man” by many in the fan community, has been in a feud with John Lasseter. John Lasseter is the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios as well as the Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering. Lasseter was upset at the marketing plan for the film John Carter, which was directed by his friend Andrew Stanton. When the film flopped due to his perception of sabotage, he threw a huge fit to oust Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross. He went so far as to threaten to leave the company if Ross was not immediately replaced, and sure enough, shortly after John Carter was released and flopped, Disney announced Ross’ replacement, Alan Horn, an outsider with a wealth of film experience.
So what does this mean for the weather man before 2015? Lasseter has apparently also threatened to leave the company if he (Iger) is not replaced before the June 20th, 2013 release of Monsters Inc 2. This is not to be taken lightly, as a shake up of this caliber could have a rippling affect throughout the entire company. If this happens and Iger is removed from power, it is likely he will take either CFO Jay Rasulo, Chairman of Parks & Resorts Tom Staggs, or both with him. Depending on who he takes and who replaces him, others including Meg Crofton could be on the way out too, and there are many in the fan community who would jump for joy if it comes to fruition. I think the best way to describe the resort under current management is what some call “the Rizzo factor.” They’re tooooourists, what do they know? The next time you see empty buildings at Pleasure Island or the missing Lights of Winter, look around at all the people with 1stvisit buttons on, completely oblivious to what once was, and you’ll see just how obvious the Rizzo factor really is. We can only hope that with a change at the top, the Rizzo factor will be significantly reduced.
As noted elsewhere, I just don’t see how Lasseter, however cranky he may be about Iger (and I do believe he is feeling pretty cranky about him) has the horsepower to win such a confrontation. Lasseter may be the heart and soul of Disney creative — but Disney Corp is ultimately mostly about theme parks and ESPN, representing 93% of the company’s revenue, and those are things that Lasseter isn’t involved with. I just don’t see where he gets sufficient clout to create a problem for Iger, even if he wants to. I’m curious if others see more reason to believe this rumor.