As Disney completes its merger with Twentieth Century Fox, the studio will bring the leaders of the existing Fox motion picture labels into the Mouse House, reporting to The Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn.
One notable exception: Current 20th Century Fox Film chairman and CEO Stacey Snider will not make the transition. Snider moved into the role to take over for Jim Gianopulos, who eventually went to Paramount. Now, after running Universal and DreamWorks for Steven Spielberg, Snider is out of a job.
Moving to Disney is Snider’s vice chairman Emma Watts, who retains that title as well as president of production at Twentieth Century Fox Film. Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula will continue to serve as chairmen of Fox Searchlight Pictures. Elizabeth Gabler will continue to serve as president of production, Fox 2000.
This executive shuffle ends the latest chapter in Hollywood’s version of “Survivor,” but to borrow from yet another rival network: Winter is coming. Let the game of thrones begin.
For now, Vanessa Morrison will serve as president of Fox Family, with Andrea Miloro and Robert Baird as co-presidents of Fox Animation. How those divisions will work in concert with Disney’s family film production and Disney Animation is an ongoing question. And while Fox labels will move to Disney supervision intact, and while many leading executives will play out their contracts, layoffs are expected.
Then there’s the question of how Disney’s own roster will be impacted by the fresh blood. Will Sean Bailey, president of motion picture production at Walt Disney Studios, last in the face of this new bench of powerhouse talent?
“We’re pleased that these talented executives will be joining our incredible team of studio leaders once the acquisition of 21st Century Fox is completed,” said Disney chairman and CEO Robert Iger in a statement. “Under Alan Horn’s leadership, Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm have reached unprecedented levels of creative and box-office success, and adding Fox’s impressive film brands and franchises to our studio will allow us to create even more appealing high-quality entertainment to delight audiences.”
Said Horn: “The addition of these respected film groups under the umbrella of The Walt Disney Studios will create endless possibilities as we continue to deliver first-rate motion pictures to audiences around the world. This is an experienced group of executives, and Alan Bergman and I look forward to welcoming them to our leadership ranks upon completion of the acquisition.”
Reporting directly to Horn will be:
· Emma Watts, Vice Chairman, Twentieth Century Fox Film and President, Production, Twentieth Century Fox
· Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula, Chairmen, Fox Searchlight Pictures
· Elizabeth Gabler, President of Production, Fox 2000
Reporting to Horn and Watts will be:
· Andrea Miloro and Robert Baird, Co-Presidents, Fox Animation
· Vanessa Morrison, President, Fox Family
The executives will join Mr. Horn’s existing leadership team, which includes:
· Alan Bergman, President, The Walt Disney Studios
· Sean Bailey, President, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production
· Ed Catmull, President, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios
· Jennifer Lee, Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney Animation Studios
· Pete Docter, Chief Creative Officer, Pixar Animation Studios
· Kevin Feige, President, Marvel Studios
· Louis D’Esposito, Co-President, Marvel Studios
· Kathleen Kennedy, President, Lucasfilm
· Ken Bunt, President, Disney Music Group
· Thomas Schumacher, President & Producer, Disney Theatrical Group
The new film structure comes as a contrast to how Iger has set up Disney’s TV assets under the merger. While incoming 21st Century Fox film execs will adjust to oversight under a Disney exec, on the TV side it’s Fox execs coming in to potentially alter the culture: 21st Century Fox’s Peter Rice will assume the role of chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, while Fox TV Group chairman Dana Walden has been named chairman of Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment. “The strength of 21st Century Fox’s first-class management talent has always been a compelling part of this opportunity for us,” Iger said earlier this month in officially giving Rice and Walden key Disney TV oversight.
Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox won formal approval from shareholders of both companies, and Disney and 21st Century Fox entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice that allows the acquisition to proceed, while requiring the sale of the Fox Sports Regional Networks. The transaction is subject to a number of non-U.S. merger and other regulatory reviews.