Walt Disney film topper resigns

Mark Zoradi departs post as motion pictures group president

Passed over last month in a changing of the guard atop Disney's film studio, Mark Zoradi has resigned as president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group.

Disney announced the move Monday and said the resignation would take effect immediately. Zoradi was a 29-year Disney veteran.

His departure follows the Sept. 18 ouster of Dick Cook as film studio chairman. On Oct. 6, Disney chief Bob Iger announced the appointment of then-Disney Channel topper Rich Ross to fill Cook's vacated post.

There was no immediate indication about whether Disney will name a successor to Zoradi.

"Mark has done an outstanding job over his many years with the studio," Ross said. "He's a respected leader throughout the entertainment industry, and we wish him the very best."

Zoradi thanked his colleagues for their support over the years.

"Adequately communicating my thoughts and feelings to the teams of people I have admired and worked so close with seems an impossible task," Zoradi said in a letter circulated internally.

Zoradi joined Disney in 1980 as a home video marketing manager. Five years later, he moved into film sales before being named vp and GM of Buena Vista Television in 1987.

He rejoined theatrical film operations in 1992 as president of Buena Vista International and was named to his most recent post in July 2006.

"Since beginning with the company ... I have truly enjoyed my time at the studio," Zoradi said in his exit note. "Many milestones were achieved and hurdles overcome, and I am so proud to have been a part of such an outstanding group of people. That is what I will always cherish and fondly remember the most -- the people, relationships and friends. It was a magical time at Disney, driven by the most dedicated and talented team of individuals."

As film group president, Zoradi oversaw worldwide marketing and distribution of all Disney releases. The studio's most recent theatrical title, Robert Zemeckis' 3D animated feature "A Christmas Carol," opened during the weekend with $30.1 million domestically and $12 million from 18 foreign territories.