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Ken Caldwell, a nearly 40-year veteran of Disney, is retiring from the company at the end of the year.
He most recently served as executive vice president and general sales manager of North American theatrical sales and reported to Tony Chambers, the executive VP of theatrical distribution. In his role, Caldwell oversaw domestic distribution encompassing the U.S. and Canada for the studio’s film labels, including Disney, Walt Disney Animation, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, 20th Century and Searchlight Pictures. His position will be backfilled.
During his 39-year tenure with Disney, Caldwell has spearheaded distribution for many major films, including eight of the top 15 highest-grossing domestic films. Some of the titles he managed were the live-action remakes of “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King,” as well as “Frozen,” Pixar’s “Toy Story,” “Avatar: The Way of Water” and 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which remains the top-earning North American release in history. He also oversaw the domestic releases of all titles from Marvel Studios beginning with 2012’s “The Avengers” and including the record-breaking runs of “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Endgame.”
Caldwell is a longtime supporter of the men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces. Starting with 2012’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” he made several trips to combat zones in the Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq) and flew out to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers at sea to screen first-run Disney releases for deployed troops. Most recently, Caldwell brought “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” to soldiers in Djibouti, Africa and the inaugural deployment of the USS Gerald R Ford. He also served as an executive sponsor for Disney’s Veterans United group.
Caldwell began his career with Disney in Chicago and then worked for General Cinema Theaters in Dallas as a film buyer. He returned to Disney in 1986 and rose up through the ranks of the theatrical distribution team, holding senior leadership positions in Chicago, Atlanta and New York before relocating to its Burbank headquarters in 2011. Caldwell has served in his current role as executive VP and general sales manager since 2019.