Disney names a new chairman for its movie division
Disney on Monday cleared up a lingering question at its movie division: Alan Bergman, 54, was named chairman, succeeding Alan F. Horn, 77, a venerable figure in Hollywood who has led Walt Disney Studios since 2012. Mr. Horn will continue to serve as chief creative officer.
Disney’s studios are at a turning point. A major reorganization in October reoriented Disney’s entertainment business toward streaming. The company’s recent Investor Day made good on that promise: around 100 films and series were announced, some 80% of which are heading straight to Disney+. Its stock has since hit a record high.
“It has been an honor to lead the Walt Disney Studios over the past eight-plus years,” Mr. Horn said in a statement. “The time feels right to shift my focus solely to our enormous creative slate.” This month, Disney said the movie division would dramatically increase its output to supply Disney+, the company’s year-old streaming service, which has soared in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Bergman joined Walt Disney Studios in 1996 and rose through the business affairs ranks, overseeing finance, technology, legal affairs and human resources. Most recently he served as co-chairman of the division, which includes Pixar, 20th Century Studios, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Blue Sky Studios, Searchlight Pictures, Walt Disney Animation, Disney live-action movies and Disney’s live stage shows. The heads of those units will report jointly to Mr. Bergman and Mr. Horn, Disney said. Mr. Bergman and Mr. Horn will report to Bob Chapek, Disney’s chief executive.
“With this new structure, we are ensuring a vital continuity of leadership,” Mr. Chapek said in a statement. Mr. Bergman said he was “grateful to take on the role” and thanked Mr. Chapek for “his continued support, especially during this challenging year.”
A spokesman declined to say how long Mr. Horn would serve in his role. The structure is reminiscent of how Disney recently handled succession at its highest level, announcing in February that Robert A. Iger would step down as chief executive to become executive chairman and focus on the company’s creative endeavors. Mr. Iger said he would exit entirely in late 2021, when his contract expires.
Under Mr. Horn’s leadership, Disney became Hollywood’s dominant movie company, by far. Last year, Disney controlled roughly 40 percent of the domestic box office, and seven of its releases took in more than $1 billion worldwide. Mr. Horn was formerly the top film executive at Warner Bros., where he oversaw the eight-film “Harry Potter” series and Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy. Before that, he co-founded Castle Rock Entertainment, where movies included “When Harry Met Sally” and “A Few Good Men.”
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