Dave Hollis, Disney Distribution Chief Turned Lifestyle Guru, Dies at 47

Hollis recently been hospitalized with heart problems

Dave Hollis
Dave Hollis

Dave Hollis, a former disney executive who left the company after 16 years to become an influencer known as much for his later erratic behavior as the celebrity he gained dispensing lifestyle advice, died in his Austin, Texas, home on Feb. 11. He was 47.

His family confirmed the death in a social media post, saying he passed away “peacefully” at his home outside Austin, Texas on Saturday night. “Though exact cause of death has yet to be determined, his family confirms he had been hospitalized recently for some heart issues,” his family stated.

Although Hollis was recently in the hospital for a heart-related problem, the cause of death has not been determined, according to his family.

Long before his unlikely turn as a social media celebrity and influencer, Hollis spent years as corporate climber in entertainment.

In his position at Disney, Hollis was responsible for global theatrical sales and distribution for all motion pictures released under the Disney, Pixar, Disneynature, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm banners. During his tenure at Disney, he oversaw distribution of blockbusters like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Frozen,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Iron Man 3” and “Captain America: Civil War.” Other major hits that he spearheaded distribution for included “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Finding Dory,” “Zootopia,” “The Jungle Book,” “Inside Out,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Maleficent.”

In 2016, under his leadership, he set an industry calendar-year record with over $7.6 billion in global box office, becoming the first studio ever to surpass $7 billion globally and $3 billion domestically.

After a stint as an account executive at Merv Griffin Productions, Hollis first joined The Walt Disney Company in 2001 as an assistant brand manager for Miramax Home Video and within two years worked his way up to the company’s director of new business development. And he continued to climb the corporate ladder, eventually landing the title of President – Worldwide Theatrical Distribution, a position he held until 2018.

But it was his second act that generated the most headlines. Hollis quit Disney in 2018 to join Chic Media, the company founded by his then-wife, New York Times best-selling author Rachel Hollis, who turned a moment of viral fame into a naescent media empire. Originally a video marketing and video production company “that helps companies get noticed,” Dave Hollis was named chief operating officer the following year and the company was renamed The Hollis Co.

Hollis authored a number of books, including “Get Out of Your Own Way,” “Built Through Courage: Face Your Fears to Live the Life You Were Meant For” and “Here’s to Your Dream,” and hosted the popular podcast “Rise Together,” the #1 health podcast on iTunes.

But he also became the subject of much speculation and drama as his public behavior became more erratic.

He and Rachel Hollis became famous for promoting a value system based around something like protestant work ethic and ‘personal responsibility’ for the digital age, with the success of their marriage as the major selling point. Both authored hit books, and launched a podcast, “Rise Together” leading to a series of couples counseling events where they charged thousands of dollars for admission.

In 2019 their business was said to be worth millions, though Rachel Hollis was clearly the senior partner.

And then in the summer of 2020, the Hollises announced they were divorcing. The contrast between the end of their marriage and the advice they’d given caused enormous controversy among their fans. And in 2021 their public image suffered more when both Rachel and Dave Hollis had some very public meltdowns.

In Dave Hollis’ case, in November 2021 he held an Instagram Live to promote his book, “Built Through Courage: Face Your Fears to Live the Life You Were Meant For” which had come out several weeks earlier. It turned into a full meltdown during which he berated his followers and demanded they purchase the book, and even spoked rudely to one of his daughters. He later apologized, but in early 2022 he pulled away from social media activity, and there were rumors he had entered rehab.

He resumed his podcast and social media activity three months later. He never made any statements about health problems prior to his death.