Motion Picture Showmanship Award

For a guy who started his career in 1970 as a ride operator for Disneyland’s locomotives and monorail, Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook has driven the Disney corporate train to some extraordinary destinations in a ride that’s lasted 34 years to date.

Under Cook’s stewardship of worldwide distribution and marketing, Disney became the only studio to pass the milestone of $1 billion at the international box office for nine consecutive years. Since 1990 it has released 34 films that have each delivered more than $100 million domestically, not to mention the studio’s record haul of more than $3 billion in worldwide grosses last year.

Cook defers the credit to others, including the credit for nabbing his Publicists’ Motion Picture Showmanship Award. “This is really a reflection of what the entire studio has been able to accomplish,” he says. “There are so many great spectacles that Walt Disney did, that we’re just barely trying to follow suit.”

Still, since he put on his conductor’s cap as president of Buena Vista Pictures distribution and marketing in 1994, the 53-year-old executive’s showmanship skills have become legend. Along with restoring El Capitan as a first-run movie palace, he is best known for his blockbuster movie premiere events.

There was the packed “Pocohontas” extravaganza in Central Park — the world’s biggest movie premiere — followed by an unprecedented 23-city mall tour. A year later, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” opened with a massive mardi gras-themed parade and Superdome premiere in New Orleans. “The Rock” debuted on San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island, and “Hercules” flexed its muscles in Manhattan with a special edition of Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade. For the “Pearl Harbor” premiere bash, Cook commandeered an aircraft carrier in –where else? — Pearl Harbor.

What qualities make a great showman? “I think you have to have great imagination, great creativity and big ideas,” Cook offers, “and ability to move those through to completion.”

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