Long-serving Disney executive Jean-François Camilleri has announced his departure from the company. In social media posts Tuesday morning, Camilleri, whose most recent title was Country Manager, The Walt Disney Company, France, Benelux & French-Speaking Africa, said, “After 30 extraordinary years, I have decided to leave Disney. It’s a family that I love and that I will never forget… The journey was in every way exceptional.”
This is a big move in French industry circles, and comes just a week after Disney officially acquired Fox, although it is unclear if Camilleri’s departure was impacted by the merger. A Disney France spokesperson said there was no further information; we have reached out to Camilleri for comment. In his social media postings today, he noted, “It is time for me to invest myself fully in order to contribute to a meaningful future.”
Camilleri, who was closely associated with 2005 Best Documentary Oscar winner March Of The Penguins and the subsequent creation of the Disneynature label, has worn a number of hats throughout the years. He began his career in 1988 at Grey which handled the marketing for Warner Bros productions and managed the distribution of Disney movies in France. In 1990, he moved to Los Angeles to become Media Manager at Buena Vista International, helping to create the Buena Vista European offices in Paris, for which he became Advertising Manager.
In 1992, he became Marketing Director for joint venture Gaumont Buena Vista, opening a French office in 2004 where he was SVP and General Manager.
As head of GBV France, Camilleri developed local co-productions and acquisitions including 2005 smash March Of The Penguins which grossed over $127M worldwide including $77M in North America and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary as well as a host of other international prizes. Following the success of Penguins, Camilleri created Disneynature in 2008 and became General Manager and Executive Vice President for the label, dedicated to producing theatrical wildlife films. Credits include Oceans (2010), African Cats (2011), Chimpanzee (2012) Bears (2014) and Monkey Kingdom (2015).
In 2009, Camilleri was appointed Country Manager of The Walt Disney Company France, later adding Benelux and French-speaking Africa to his remit.
Here’s his full statement (translated from French):
“After 30 extraordinary years, I have decided to leave Disney. It’s a family that I love and that I will never forget. From Los Angeles to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Tunis, Casablanca, Abidjan; from GBVI to the presidency of Disney France, Benelux and French-speaking Africa; from Disneynature to French films, the journey was in every way exceptional. Humanly, professionally, artistically. The path now completed pushes me to engage more in other ways from now on.
“Across all the metiers that I had the chance to practice, I understood the strength of different media and of stories in the service of engagement. Fortified with these experiences and the values that are dear to me, it is time for me to invest myself fully in order to contribute to a meaningful future. To the wonderful Disney teams that I have had the chance to work with, to all my journalist, producer, operator, broadcaster partners and friends, I want to express my gratitude and affection. An immense thank you for this unique adventure. See you soon.”