Dick Cook's Exit from Disney Leaves Johnny Depp Worried

September 19, 2009
Source: LA Times

Johnny Depp and Dick Cook

Yesterday Nikki Finke and THR confirmed that Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook was stepping down after working at the company for 38 years. For those not familiar with him, Dick Cook was one of the best executives to run that company in recent years. He established numerous beneficial connections and was a friend to many powerful people. It was a shocking and surprising announcement and no one knows who will replace him yet (which is also a big concern). However, his sudden departure may have quite an impact, as it seems there might already be a backlash in the industry that may hurt the studio in big ways.

We've already started to see producers and filmmakers around town expressing their sadness. Indiana Jones producer Frank Marshall said on Twitter: "Woke up to find Dick Cook has resigned from Disney. One of the most respected and classy executives in town. I will miss our breakfasts." Nikki Finke got an update from Disney insiders saying: "I hear that Steven Spielberg is devastated by the news of Dick Cook's ouster. Dick was a major reason why Spielberg and Stacey Snider brought the new DreamWorks to Disney. 'Steven worships Dick,' an insider told me tonight." But one of the most upset individuals is not a producer or a director, but rather an actor, and a very big one at Disney - Johnny Depp.

The LA Times' Claudia Eller caught up with Depp in London the night the news broke. Depp was "shocked and very sad" to hear about the abrupt departure of Cook, whom he called "the sweetest man on the planet and such a gent." They were so close that Cook even called Depp hours before to alert him that this news was coming. "He is the utmost gentleman, so he made the call himself." But now he's not so sure about working on the next Pirates movie, to be titled Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, without Cook around. "There's a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment," Depp said. "It was all born in that office."

Word is that producer Jerry Bruckheimer is going to reestablish his relationship at Disney without Cook (and with whomever they get to replace him) and in the meantime somehow attempt to convince Depp to stay onboard. Everyone knows there really can't be a Pirates of the Caribbean movie without Johnny Depp. It's just fascinating to see all of this unfold in a matter of days. I was personally a strong supporter of Dick Cook as well, having seen him at big Disney presentations in-person multiple times. It really is unfortunate to see him go and I really don't know who would do a better job replacing him. What will happen next?

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if this is the sacrifice disney had to pay so there wouldn't be another stupid, horrible, waste of everybody's time such as PotC 4, then so be it..... they were dumb movies anyway....

isrealiDude on Sep 19, 2009


'...Steven worships Dick...' I'm saying nothing. 😉

Mathieu on Sep 19, 2009


That sucks. But I disagree with comment 1, The PotC movies were well done for a family movie. They are very enjoyable and worth the cinema experience. As for a replacement, I wonder who would it be. Would be a little scary/ funny if they unfroze Walt Disney and was the reason Dick Cook resigned. Tomorrow, big announcement: Walt Disney comes floating down in a prop cloud to announce he is returning to his chair.

Kendoll on Sep 19, 2009


Johnny Depp can't just drop out of pirates of the caribbean 4, just because dick cook is leaving the company!. That would just be wronge!. And besides, i'm sure that johnny depp himself, doe not want to disappoint any of his fans who love the pirates of the caribbean movies, because then he would end up being haitted for the rest of his life, by fans who desprately want a pirates of the caribbean 4, 5 and 6 !!!!!!!!!!!!.

Sean on Sep 19, 2009


sad news, the company was really on a role, here. But I'm sure whoever replaces Cook will do a decent job Depp and Spielberg should have a say in who takes over. The company will survive no matter what. I gotta comment on this, 'Steven worships Dick,' Alex did you laugh a little when you wrote thtat!?

Xerxex on Sep 19, 2009


LMFAO!!!!!! 'Steven worships Dick,' Maybe something like, "Steven worships Cook" might sound better.

gigerbrick on Sep 19, 2009


In all seriousness, this comes at the end of a protracted run of good decisions by Disney, so it baffles me. Buying Marvel, providing a home for Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks, installing John Lasseter as the head of Disney animation as well as Pixar... all the groundwork for a great future has been laid by this man, they just need patience to see the benefits. So they sack him instead. More evidence that Hollywood is run by morons.

Mathieu on Sep 19, 2009


'Steven worships Dick,'

Klaus on Sep 19, 2009


Are they really developing the fourth Pirates without having a contract with Johnny Depp?

Andreas Climent on Sep 19, 2009


I hope POTC isn't for 2011.

Name (required) on Sep 19, 2009


'Steven worships Dick' 😀 lol. I sure hope Jay Leno gets a hold of this for his 'Headlines' segment on his show! **On a serious note: This man was obviously one of a kind, that it had major impact among Hollywood's elite!

Blue Silver on Sep 19, 2009


This is a stunner. Why would Disney give up a guy who had been so instrumental in their success? It makes no sense at all. Would Rob Iger be interested in the job? He's done a good job of rehabilitating Disney's image in the wake of Michael Eisner's incompetence, but would he be up to the challenge?

Corran Horn on Sep 19, 2009


*Print Screen* *Print* *Highlighted* lol

Tra la la la la di da on Sep 19, 2009


The name I've seen mentioned on other sites as a replacement for Mr. Cook is John Lasseter.

EJP on Sep 19, 2009


The purchase of Marvel, and the inclusion of Dreamworks in Disney distribution.....makes Disney the Largest Media company currently on this Planet (seriously). Another interesting thing about Marvel is that Disney is the only major media company that Marvel has never worked with (they licensed X-men to Fox, Spiderman to Sony, and Hulk to Universal/GE), and now that Disney owns the rights to Marvel they will be collecting licensing fee's from all of these companies in order for them to still use Marvel characters (including the rides at Universal Studios in Florida). Perhaps the reason for Cook's departure is that Disney isn't planning on putting out as many films? If you think about it with Disney distributing Marvel, Dreamworks, Pixar, and Jerry Bruckhiemer films they could just sit back make a movie here and there and just reap the profits of their commodities. Under Cook Disney was cranking out a decent number of flicks per year. They put out 14 this year (1 was Pixar's Up), and not many of them were hits (only 2). I will never believe that Cook chose to leave on his own, and you'd have to be a fool to believe he wasn't pushed out, but perhaps Cook didn't want Disney films to take a backseat to all of these other studios. I wouldn't be surprised if Cook was the type who would stand up for the Disney as a family brand name....and he wouldn't take lightly to Disney wanting to basically be a vending machine for other companies. Good films or not, Disney films have been a staple in American cinema for a long time....and not that they're going anywhere, but putting them in the backseat to these other companies simply for financial reasons would be a hard notion to swallow for a man who started off as a cast member at Disneyland. Maybe they want someone who's more of an unbiased "distributor" and less of a "Disney man" to be in charge of distributing films through Disney as a company, and not necessarily a brand.

ImaginaryVisionary on Sep 19, 2009


I wonder how this will effect Disney. Dick Cook's networking, connections and ability to hold the business together for 38 years will hurt Disney since they have no access to either of these things anymore. There won't be too many people who will be able to fill in the gap that was once filled by Mr. Cook. Perhaps some of his contacts won't work with Disney anymore because of this. Just because some profits are lost doesn't mean they had to fire the guy. Disney just has to find what made them so wonderful before and go back to that.

cs on Sep 19, 2009


He got ousted by the Jewish Mafia - Disney is a front. He was gonna blow the whistle on their skullguggery.

TTEX on Sep 19, 2009


Who the fuck even wants to see a Pirates of the Caribbean 4,5 or 6? Seriously.

Scagginsvolley on Sep 19, 2009



sdafd on Sep 20, 2009


Bad news! #18 Scagginsvolley I do! C'mon, the first 3 weren't bad at all. Those 3 were very enjoyable to watch and the next one (and 5 and 6) will be the same.

me on Sep 20, 2009


Why badmouth the Pirates movies if you don't like them don't see them. I think they are some of the most enjoyable entertaining movies ever. I have always been a little surprised that Mr. Depp would work for such a corporate giant as I know that Dick Cook had a big influence on getting him to work in a Disney film. Thank you Mr. Cook for our beloved Captain.

Billie B on Sep 20, 2009


It all depends now on the script for pirates of the caribbean: on stranger tides. Once ted elliott and terry rossio finish the script, johnny depp has to read it, and "HOPEFULLY", like enough to be in pirates of the caribbean: on stranger tides as captain jack sparrow, in may 2011. I hope and pray now every day now, for johnny depp to read and love the script and be in pirates of the caribbean: on stranger tides, even though dick cook is no longer a part of the disney pictures comapny!!!!!.

Sean on Sep 20, 2009


Lots of people, Scagginsvolley, Lots and lots of people.

Becky on Sep 20, 2009


#17 IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT---check just how many Gentiles are at the top of any major media conglomerates. That's right. NONE. Not. One. Gentile. Agencies. Management companies. Studios. Not. A. Single. Non-Jew. But, Dick had a nice run for a goyim who wasn't going to temple. Way to go Dick. You start a company I'll work for you my friend (even if we can't get Jewish Agent-repped actors to work on your films lol).

John G on Sep 20, 2009


Love Johnny Dep! But have to agree, NO MORE SEQUELS. Move on before you establish character confusion...

Danica Johnson on Sep 21, 2009


Johnny Depp has to read the script after ted elliott and terry rossio write it, and if johnny depp likes it enough to be in the fourth movie, then the fourth movie will happen with him in it as captain jack sparrow. If he does not approve of it after reading it, then he will not be in the fourth movie, and the fourth movie movie will not happen!. But lets all hope and pray that once ted elliott and terry rossio finish writing the script, that johnny depp will like the script and approve of it to be in the foruth movie and for the fourth movie to even happen after finally reads it after ted elliott and terry rossio are done writing it finally. Which i think they will finish writing it, by late 2009, early 2010 it'll be finished and the movie will start being filmed with johnny depp being in it as captain jack sparrow, i highly doubt they'll make a pirates of the caribbean 4 with out johnny depp in it as captain jack sparrow!.

Sean on Sep 21, 2009


"Seriously" - I really wanted a *&^%$ POTC 4, 5, 6 - if you don't like them so be it, but it's a terrific series with fun, memorable characters and at this point an actual bona fide icon in Sparrow. I personally don't believe any of the Disney spin, I think Cook, beloved as being a trusted man, was blindsided and was let go precisely so Disney could close the quarter at a set loss after paying Cook's severance. It smells - I think Dick Cook has too much character to act so cheery at the Disney expo, and BS the actors into showing up, and then "resign"? I only hope at this point that Jerry Bruckheimer can run some interference and re-ignite Depp's interest, he seems pretty upset. A blogger pointed out that as a ballpark figure only, all of the POTCs + merchandise roughly made around 4 billion dollars - think it's a funny thought that in theory by firing? Dick Cook, Disney may have thrown away another 4 billion (POTC 4, 5, 6). It's a theory, but losing Dick Cook would be the most expensive severance in history if an upset Depp bails out over it. Would serve Disney right. What's next for Disney's CEO - buying up the rights to Transformers to attract the "male teenage demographic" the company is so interested in? Great - Disney and bathroom humor.

twilite_sea on Sep 21, 2009


I also hope that jerry bruckheimer has a nice little serious talk with johnny depp so that he get johnny to understand that stopping the pirates movie now would be absolutely crazy, becayse of the fans that have built up up by all three of the potc movies released so far!. Johnny depp may need some time to get dick cook off his mind to be able to cininue wanting to do pirates 4, but he still needs to do it at least for his fans and kids, and because theres just no reason to stop anyways because of the successfulness of the first pirates of the caribbean movies hes been already!, as the famous captain jack sparrow!. Maybe if jerry bruckheimer finds a way to get dick cook off his mind, such a give him i "BIG" raise in how much he'll get paid to do pirates of the caribbean: on stranger tides, then maybe he'll feel alot more confident about playing captain jack sparrow in pirates of the caribbean: on stranger tides, and if the person the replace with dick cook, is someone just as likeable and nice as dick cookthat johnny depp would like as much as he liked dick cook, then he may also feel more confident about doing pirates of the caribbean: on stranger tides then. Another thing, is that johnny depp has to like the story on the script of the movie inorder for him to be in the movie as cpation jack sparrow, but i think that ted elliot and terry rossio will do a wonderful job on the script because they both know that johnny depp has to like it in order to be in the movie and for the movie to even happen, and if he likes it, which i hope he will, i bet that'll make jerry bruckheimer extremely happy, because that'll be the begining of the second trilogy in the pirates of the caribbean disney movie franchise. It would also make all the fans, inluding myself extremely happy if johnny depp does like the script and does do pirates of the caribbean 4, 5 and 6 after all !!!!.

Sean on Sep 21, 2009


Johnny Depp might just be looking for a 'good excuse' to leave this horrid franchise?

David Banner on Sep 24, 2009


No, Johnny depp is looking for any excuse to leave this franchise at all !. He just allittle upset right now!, because dick cook left disney, and now johnny depp is waiting to hear from jerry bruckheimer again, and he also now waiting to read the script of the fourth movie, so that he can decide if the script has good enough story for him to rerturn to a fourth movie and if he decides to be in the movie, then the movie will happen if not then the movie will not happen!.

Sean on Sep 24, 2009


#2 ... HAHA... that would have been my headline for the article... haha

Dusty on Sep 24, 2009


Oh, gees, the haters again. Depp's the one who said he could go on playing Sparrow more or less forever, that there is more to his story to be told, etc. Frankly I like most of the movies that have been turned into a series lately, they become franchises BECAUSE there are great characters and more stories to tell. Just like an author releasing another book about a character. You can always skip a film, which I will be doing if Disney doesn't pull it's head out of its %$#. Like the latest rumor of recasting Depp for POTC 5 and 6 (rumor only at this point).

twilite_sea on Sep 25, 2009


@#32, Why do you say that its only a rumor at this point?, what makes you think its only a rumor?.

Sean on Sep 26, 2009


Sean - There are all kinds of rumors floating around, evidently with Depp's comments as the flash point, anything after that is a kind of my-source-says (Cinemablend) and a tipster says this and that. But nothing solid from an industry source like Variety, major paper, or Disney or Bruckheimer. Blogs and loose articles with no real cited source. I would guess that there is a lot of behind-the-scenes-discussion going on - my guess only - that Disney wants POTC4 to be made with Depp in it, for the almost guaranteed $$$, and Depp wants to do it but as he said isn't too happy right now. And I would guess that Disney would want to milk its cash cow some more, so may do something stupid like try to pull off a POTC without Depp if needed, which will sink like a stone- can only hope that there is someone sane at Disney who will wave all those Twitters and informal polls at this Iger guy and point out how many people say they go to POTC just for Depp/Sparrow. Not all, but a large majority.

twilite_sea on Sep 28, 2009

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