Disney ousts production chief Oren Aviv (updated)
Aviv, who had been at the studio for 18 years, was president of marketing from 2000 to 2006 before taking the production job. Aviv also served as an executive producer on the studio's movie series "National Treasure" and was a close ally of former studio head Dick Cook, who was ousted last year.
The studio has been suffering a creative drought, with a number of movies, including "Shopaholic," "G-Force" and "Old Dogs," under performing at the box office.
Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger has been publicly critical of the movie picks. In October, he named Ross, who built Disney Channel into a children's-programming juggernaut, to succeed Cook. Since that time, Ross has fired a number of Cook's top executives and has restructured the marketing and distribution operations. He is expected soon to name a new production head and marketing chief.
A Disney spokeswoman had no immediate comment.
Update (10:40 AM): Walt Disney Studios confirmed that Aviv has left and issued the following statement by him:
As of today, I'm stepping down from my position as president of Production, Walt Disney Studios. I have loved every day that I have been at the studio and feel incredibly privileged to have been part of a team that enriched my life for 20 years.
I will miss all the amazing filmmakers, the many talented actors and most importantly the lifelong friends I've been so lucky to work with throughout my Disney career.
I'm proud of the hundreds of movies I've helped to make and market, especially the studio's upcoming films, from "Alice in Wonderland" and "Prince of Persia" to "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "Tron." All have been extremely rewarding creative and personal endeavors for me, and have allowed me to work with the best group of executives and staff in the business.
I wish Disney, Bob Iger, Rich Ross and their new teams great success for many years to come.
The studio also issued the following statement by Ross:
Oren’s significant contributions to The Walt Disney Studios are well-documented and countless movie-goers have been entertained by his diverse portfolio of films. We appreciate his work and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.
-- Claudia Eller and Dawn Chmielewski
Photo: Oren Aviv (left) with Bob Iger at the premiere of "The Princess and the Frog" in November. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images.