Now that Disney has set the hierarchy of Fox TV executives who’ll be part of the merged entities, next comes the film division. Sources said there shouldn’t be much surprise when an announcement is made as early as later this week.
Alan Horn, the veteran exec who was unceremoniously pushed out at Warner Bros and then came to Disney and stabilized static divisions that has led to an unparalleled run, will be top dog. Reporting to him will be Sean Bailey, the Walt Disney Studios president who’ll be a central player in all this, as well as Pixar chief Pete Docter and Walt Disney Animation’s Jennifer Lee, Marvel’s Kevin Feige and Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy. Latter re-upped months ago, but word just leaked out recently.
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As for Fox, it looks like the biggest exec who won’t be joining for the long term is Stacey Snider, the 20th Century Fox chairman and CEO. She’ll leave when the deal officially closes, but until then will see through the release of The Hate U Give, The Favourite, Bad Times at the El Royale and the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
On the TV side, the top leadership of both ABC Studios (president Patrick Moran) and 20th TV/Fox 21 (presidents Jonnie Davis, Howard Kurtzman and Bert Salke) will remain intact per today’s announcement.
20th Century Fox vice chairman Emma Watts is sitting pretty, expected to continue shepherding a slate of adult-themed films, even as Marvel titles like X-Men are expected to come under Feige’s domain. She is also expected to have oversight in that studio’s relationship with Hulu, one that will become an important generator of content expressly for OTT.
Snider, a well-read exec who has been managing studio-sized slates her whole career, would be an asset for any tech company planning to enter the content-creation space in film. Rumor has a major or two eyeing her also.
It looks like Fox 2000 and its chief Elizabeth Gabler will also continue to generate films; a tell was when Gabler herself brokered a first-look feature deal with Greg Berlanti, and also Fox Searchlight, whose Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley are coming off the Oscar Best Picture win for The Shape of Water, and whose up-and-coming execs Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum became co-heads of production there and also are spearheading a TV division. They were behind a first-look deal recently made with Element Pictures partners Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe, the duo that produced The Favourite and the Oscar-winning Room. Greenfield and Greenbaum were heavily courted by Netflix.
Below that is anyone’s guess. Some execs will surely be moving on and there have already been surprises. Like when highly regarded Disney exec Tendo Nagenda exited recently, two years into a four-year deal, to join Netflix in a prominent position. There are sharp executives, but they will have to wrap their arms around the fact that a large part of their focus will be streaming-service movies, a jolt for execs who’ve been shepherding theatrical-release films for years.
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