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Rich Ross Steps Down as Disney Chair

Rich Ross resigned as chairman of Walt Disney Studios on Friday, his surprise exit bookended between the company's recent $200 million loss from “John Carter” and the forthcoming box office and other ancillary earnings from Marvel's “The Avengers.”

Rich Ross resigned as chairman of Walt Disney Studios on Friday, his surprise exit bookended between the company's recent $200 million loss from John Carter and the forthcoming box office and other ancillary earnings from Marvel's The Avengers.

According to a report by Daily Variety, Ross sent staffers an email early Friday morning alerting them of his decision, saying, “The best people need to be in the right jobs, in roles they are passionate about, doing work that leverages the full range of their abilities. It's one of the leadership lessons I've learned during my career, and it's something I've been giving a great deal of thought to as I look at the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

The former head of Disney Channels Worldwide, Ross was tapped to head the film studio by Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger in October 2009.

Variety reports that Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige is considered to be at the top of lists for job, given his experience in launching new franchises that perform at the box office -- Iron Man, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger -- and spin-off sequels, TV shows, videogames, toys and other consumer products, while keeping a close eye on overhead and production costs through long-term deals with actors and tax breaks.

Other candidates include DreamWorks co-president and CEO Stacey Snider and producer Joe Roth, who once ran Walt Disney Studios from 1994-2000 and is behind billion-dollar blockbuster Alice in Wonderland, the upcoming Oz: The Great and Powerful and Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie. Disney production president  Sean Bailey is also reported to be in the mix, as is Battleship producer Scott Stuber.

For now, Bailey and studio president Alan Bergman will oversee the film's slate, which is set for the year and is coming together for 2013.

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