As chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, Richard Cook oversees all aspects of the development, production, distribution and marketing for all live-action and animated films released under the Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and Miramax banners worldwide. He is also responsible for Disneyâ€™s worldwide home entertainment operations under Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, as well as Walt Disney Music Group, Walt Disney Theatrical Productions, Disney-ABC Domestic Television, Disney-ABC International Television, the Studioâ€™s legal and business affairs and all areas of new technology.
Under Cookâ€™s leadership, the Studio has been one of the leading domestic distributors for ten of the last 13 years with box office receipts in excess of one billion dollars each. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International passed the one billion dollar mark for 12 consecutive years, the only distribution company to have achieved this milestone. To date, the Studio has released 54 films that have grossed more than $100 million each domestically. No other studio has accomplished this extraordinary feat.
During his tenure, Cook has overseen such box-office successes as â€œPirates of the Caribbean: At Worldâ€™s End,â€ which broke industry wide records with the highest global opening at over $404 million, â€œPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Manâ€™s Chest,â€ the highest grossing film in Disney history with over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, â€œRatatouille,â€ â€œCars,â€ â€œThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,â€ â€œChicken Little,â€ â€˜National Treasure,â€ â€œThe Incredibles,â€ â€œPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Manâ€™s Chest,â€ â€œFinding Nemo,â€ â€œLilo & Stitch, â€œ â€œRemember the Titans,â€ â€œSigns,â€ â€œArmageddon,â€ â€œThe Santa Clause,â€ â€œPrincess Diaries,â€ â€œPearl Harbor,â€ among many others.
With Cook at the helm, the Studio has attracted some of the most powerful as well as diverse producers and directors in the industry including Jerry Bruckheimer, Scott Rudin, John Lasseter, Robert Zemeckis, Tony Scott, Lasse Hallstrom, Wes Anderson, Army Bernstein, Gore Verbinski, Walter Salles and Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy among others.
Cook has enjoyed success in the area of Home Entertainment as well. He spearheaded the highly successful launch of the â€œDisney DVDâ€ brand, and has consistently broke industry records with hit video and DVD releases.
A 36-year Disney veteran, Cook began his career in 1970 at Disneyland in Anaheim, where he was a ride operator on the parkâ€™s steam locomotives and monorail. Within a year, he became a representative in the Disneyland sales department and three years later was promoted to department manager. In 1977, Cook moved to The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank to serve as manager of pay television and non-theatrical releases. In this capacity, he was responsible for Disneyâ€™s first entry into the burgeoning world of cable television, developing what would become The Disney Channel.
Cook entered the motion picture business at Disney in 1980 as assistant domestic sales manager for the Buena Vista Distribution Company. He quickly moved up through the ranks, becoming vice president and general sales manager, then senior vice president of domestic distribution. In 1988, he was promoted to president of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. At that time, he supervised the release of numerous hit films, including â€œDown and Out in Beverly Hills,â€ â€œThree Men and a Babyâ€ (the first Disney film to break the $100 million mark), â€œGood Morning, Vietnam,â€ â€œHoney, I Shrunk the Kids,â€ â€œPretty Woman,â€ â€œFather of the Brideâ€ and â€œSister Act.â€ Cookâ€™s tenure in distribution also placed him on the front lines of Disneyâ€™s animation renaissance and the revitalization of the animation genre as a whole, releasing animated blockbusters including â€œThe Little Mermaid,â€ Beauty and the Beast,â€ â€œAladdin,â€ â€œThe Lion Kingâ€ and â€œPocahontas.â€
In 1994, Cook assumed the additional responsibility of film marketing when he was promoted to president of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution and Marketing. In this position, he oversaw the marketing and distribution strategies for hit films such as â€œThe Santa Clause,â€ â€œCrimson Tide,â€ â€œToy Story,â€ â€œThe Rock,â€ and â€œThe Hunchback of Notre Dame.â€ Two years later, Cook was promoted to chairman of The Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group, and then assumed his current role in 2002 as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.
A graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in political science, Cook has been a USC trustee and has served as president of the USC Alumni Association. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, was president of The Chandler School Board of Trustees and past chairman of the Flintridge Preparatory School Board of Trustees, and sits on the board of directors for the Will Rogers Foundation, and the Foundation of Motion Picture Pioneers. In 1976, the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge awarded him with the prestigious George Washington Medal of Freedom. In 2004, Cook was honored with the Motion Picture Showmanship Award by the publicists of the International Cinematographers Guild. Other prestigious past recipients include Jack L. Warner, Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman, Alfred Hitchcock, Lew Wasserman, Steven Spielberg, and Tom Hanks among others. In 2005, Cook was honored with â€œThe Walt Disney Man of the Year Award" by Big Brothers Big Sisters. Most recently, Cook was recognized by Variety â€“ The Childrenâ€™s Charity of Southern California with the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Cook currently resides in La Canada with his wife Bonnie, who he met at Disneyland where she served as the Disneyland Ambassador to the World. He and Bonnie have two daughters, Elizabeth and Roxanne.