In a surprise move, Janice Marinelli July 16 announced that she will step down from her role as president of Global Content Sales & Distribution for The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International (DTCI) segment, ending a 34-year career at the media giant.
Marinelli previously headed Disney’s home entertainment operations, which she continued to oversee in her latest role, which she assumed in December 2018.
Industry sources had anticipated a big announcement from Disney on July 15, with speculation that Marinelli on that date would announce the new home entertainment team behind both Disney and 20th Century Fox product. Longtime Fox home entertainment chief Mike Dunn left shortly after the March 20 completion of the merger, while James Finn, one of the division’s two top marketers, announced his departure earlier this month. Julia Howe, the other top home entertainment marketing executive, is still there, sources said.
“It has been an honor to work for this company and a privilege to work with so many outstanding professionals,” Marinelli said in a statement. “I’ve observed many changes in our industry over the years, and it is changing at a speed never seen before. While I have been considering this decision for some time, I was committed to seeing our team through the acquisition and integration of 21st Century Fox. Now that we’ve reached these important milestones, I believe the time is right for me to step down.”
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At the December 2017 Video Hall of Fame ceremony in Beverly Hills, Marinelli drew solid applause — and more than a few chuckles — when she advised her fellow home entertainment executives to “just keep swimming.” As Media Play News observed at the time, “The line, from the hit Disney film Finding Nemo, seemed to resonate with the several hundred execs in the room, many of whom have been contending with increasingly choppy seas for the better part of a decade.”
Kevin Mayer, chairman of DTCI, said Marinelli contributed “immeasurably” to Disney over the past three decades architecting and successfully negotiating “thousands of innovative” deals that benefited the company.
“I am so grateful for her insightful counsel and steadfast collaboration over the past year as we laid the foundation for DTCI and the upcoming launch of Disney+,” Mayer said. “I especially appreciate her willingness to stay on and see us through this time of tremendous change.”
As president of Global Content Sales & Distribution for Disney’s DTCI segment, Marinelli oversaw Disney’s program sales operations and distribution of the company’s direct-to-consumer apps to global accounts and broadcasters worldwide. She led the global distribution of film and television programming via home entertainment, broadcasting platforms, digital platforms, SVOD, pay networks, Hulu, the Movies Anywhere app and the upcoming Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service Disney+.
Marinelli’s sales and distribution teams worked across domestic and international media markets by providing high-quality content created by Disney’s Studio Entertainment and Media Networks groups.
Under her direction, the division distributed properties from Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox Film, Fox Animation, Disneynature, ABC Studios, ABC Entertainment, National Geographic, FX Productions, 20th Century Fox Television, WABC, Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior to broadcasters, digital services and other distributors around the world.
Marinelli and her team gave consumers in domestic and international home entertainment media markets myriad viewing choices while providing the most compelling and entertaining films in the industry.
Fueled by the studio’s box office success, the division implemented new technologies and created a superior in-home viewing experience for its customers to drive both digital and physical ownership.
She also oversaw product development and marketing strategies for Disney’s portfolio of brands and franchises across all in-home platforms. Most recently, the in-home division vigorously expanded into the 4K UHD premium format and her team also managed the re-releases of the powerhouse classic titles from the vault as part of The Walt Disney Signature Collection.
As the architect and dealmaker behind Movies Anywhere, Marinelli drove the development of the free app and website that has revolutionized digital ownership by bringing the film libraries of five studios together in a virtual one-stop movie-watching shop.
After Marinelli and her team successfully launched Disney Movies Anywhere in 2017, she subsequently brokered deals with Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. to join the initiative to transform digital movie purchase and engagement. She also spearheaded negotiations with digital retailers including Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, FandangoNow, Microsoft Movies & TV, and Comcast Xfinity.
Marinelli joined Disney’s Buena Vista Television in 1985 as an account executive. She later served as director of sales, western division before assuming the role of senior vice president of sales. She was named executive vice president in 1996 and president in 1999. Marinelli was appointed as president of Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and Television Distribution in 2013 and was promoted to her role with DTCI in 2018.