As previously rumored
, Thomas Schumacher has left his post as head of Disney Feature Animation to become president, Buena Vista Theatrical Worldwide, the Disney unit that oversees Disney's live stage productions around the world. David Stainton will replace Schumacher as president, Walt Disney Feature Animation
. Both divisions will fall under the auspices of The Walt Disney Studios and will work directly with chairman and CEO Michael D. Eisner on creative content. Schumacher's new appointment is part of Disney's strategy of streamlining its animation and live stage productions divisions, taking into account the enormous growth of production, particularly in the areas of television animation and theater. Schumacher, along with his former boss Peter Schneider, produced the successful Broadway musicals THE LION KING, which garnered six Tony awards, as well as Elton John and Tim Rice's AIDA, which won four Tony awards. Disney's stage productions currently include 17 productions of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE LION KING and AIDA, which are currently playing in six countries around the world, with a worldwide 2002 box office of nearly $500 million. Upcoming projects for Disney's stage division include productions of THE LITTLE MERMAID, TARZAN and the stage adaptation of MARY POPPINS. Also included under the Stage Division's banner is DISNEY ON ICE and Disney Live Family Entertainment (DLFE), which is responsible for licensing mass market, family oriented shows, as well as producing Disney character appearances and other promotional shows and events outside of Disney's Parks and Resorts. David Stainton becomes responsible for Feature Animation immediately. In his new role, Stainton will be responsible for all Disney animated features, Disney Video Premieres and DisneyToons products. Sharon Morrill will continue to oversee Disney's direct-to-video business and DisneyToons, and will continue to report to Stainton. Stainton served as president, Walt Disney Television Animation since January 2001. In that role, Stainton oversaw the day-to-day operations for the division's animated television series, Disney Video Premieres and DisneyToons. Television animation production will move
into the Disney Channel Worldwide division, overseen by Anne Sweeney, with former Television Animation executive vice president Barry Blumberg as president.