Deadline has confirmed that Disney Distribution EVP and General Sales Manager of North America, Ken Caldwell is retiring at the end of 2023. His position will be back-filled, and successor to be named. Caldwell reports to Disney distribution boss Tony Chambers.
Caldwell oversaw distribution of Disney’s canon including Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and animation titles, as well as 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures in U.S. and Canada. During his 39-year run at the Mouse House, he’s strategized eight of the top 15 biggest Disney blockbusters at the domestic box office including live-action pics Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, as well as Zootopia, Frozen, Toy Story, The Incredibles, Avengers: Endgame, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Disney Star Wars pics The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker and Rogue One.
Caldwell has been a longtime supporter of those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and starting with 2012’s Guardians of the Galaxy, made many trips to combat zones in the Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq), and flown out to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers to screen first-runs of Disney titles. Recently he brought Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 to troops in Djibouti, Africa and the inaugural deployment of the USS Gerald R. Ford.
He cut his teeth at Disney in Chicago and then worked for General Cinema Theaters in Dallas as a film buyer. He returned to Disney in 1986 and was promoted throughout the ranks of the Disney theatrical distribution team, holding exec positions in Chicago, Atlanta and New York before relocating to Burbank in 2011. He’s held the title of EVP and GSM since 2019.