The two previously served as Co-Chairmen since May 2019. News was swirling heading into Disney Investor Day on Dec. 10 that Horn might possibly retire, but that’s not the case for the motion picture industry vet of 50 years. He remains integral to the Disney production pipeline as the company will commit $14 billion-$16 billion to Disney+ streaming content over the next four years.
Both Bergman and Horn will continue to report to Disney CEO Bob Chapek, and all production studio heads will continue to report in to Bergman and Horn as they oversee big-screen features and Disney+ movies and series.
Together Bergman and Horn have seen the 2012 integration of Lucasfilm and the 2019 absorption of 20th Century studios, and have propelled The Walt Disney Studios to industry box office records of $7 billion WW in 2016 and 2018 and $11 billion in 2019 with a slate of heavy branded movies from the Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar, Disney Animated Studios and Disney live action feature divisions.
As far as the slight adjustment in titles, I hear that Horn, at 77, is shedding some of his duties to focus solely on Disney’s creative pipeline, and work in conjunction with Bergman on the studio’s creative plans. Bergman and Horn’s new titles take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. Horn has proven everything in the wake of Warner Brothers cutting him loose in unceremonious fashion as President and Chief Operating Officer in 2011, a post which he began serving in 1999. Horn brought a lot of stability to Disney following his arrival in 2012, particularly as the purchases of Lucasfilm and Marvel happened. This after the tumultuous results of the Rich Ross reign when the studio had massive flops such as the $300M+ feature John Carter.
Today’s appointments follow shortly after Disney’s stock hit a record high of $179.45 on Dec. 11, with shares still riding high at $171.18 as of 1:11 PM EST. Despite the studio being upside down financially with theme parks as well as a distressed theatrical marketplace during Covid, Wall Street has responded enthusiastically to Disney’s success in the streaming space. This has entailed putting some of their marquee theatrical product on the service, i.e. Hamilton, Mulan and the upcoming Pixar movie Soul, which is dropping on Christmas Day.
Those heads reporting to Bergman and Horn include Steve Asbell, President, 20th Century Studios; Robert Baird, Co-President, Blue Sky Studios; Sean Bailey, President, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production; Pete Docter, Chief Creative Officer, Pixar Animation Studios; Kevin Feige, President, Marvel Studios, and Chief Creative Officer, Marvel; Stephen Gilula, Chairman, Searchlight Pictures; Kathleen Kennedy, President, Lucasfilm; Jennifer Lee, Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney Animation Studios; and Nancy Utley, Chairman, Searchlight Pictures; as will Thomas Schumacher, President, Disney Theatrical Productions.
“The Walt Disney Studios’ achievements under the leadership of Alan Horn and Alan Bergman have been nothing short of extraordinary. Having worked closely for years with Alan Bergman, an exceptional leader and proven executive, I couldn’t be more pleased to name him as Chairman,” said Chapek. “And we are incredibly fortunate to have Alan Horn continue as the Studios’ Chief Creative Officer. Our studios are unmatched in their ability to create incredible cinematic experiences, and with this new structure, we are ensuring a vital continuity of leadership.”
“I am grateful to take on the role of Chairman of the Studios as I believe deeply in our people, culture, and the work we do,” said Bergman, adding, “I am also thankful to Bob Iger and Alan Horn for their leadership and the trust they’ve placed in me over the years and to Bob Chapek for his continued support, especially during this challenging year.”
“It has been an honor to lead The Walt Disney Studios over the past eight-plus years, and I’m so grateful not only to Bob Iger for making it possible in the first place but to the Studios team, whom I find endlessly inspiring – I hope they are all as proud of what we’ve been able to do together as I am,” said Horn. “It has been an amazing run, and the time feels right to shift my focus solely to our enormous creative slate. As for our new Studios Chairman, Alan Bergman has been at my side since day one; he has been the best partner imaginable, and the team could be in no better hands.”
As Chairman, the 24-year Disney vet Bergman will continue to preside over creative, production, marketing, and operations for Disney Studios Content, which includes Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures, Blue Sky Studios, and Disney Theatrical Productions. Prior to 2019, he served as President of The Walt Disney Studios for 14 years.
Horn’s winning streak at Warners includes such worldwide blockbusters as the Harry Potter series, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Best Picture Oscar winners The Departed and Million Dollar Baby. and the Ocean’s Eleven series. He co-founded Castle Rock Entertainment, where he served as Chairman from 1987 to 1999 leading a winning slate that included such movies as A Few Good Men, When Harry Met Sally, The Shawshank Redemption and the hit NBC TV series Seinfeld. Horn was President and Chief Operating Officer of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation from 1985 to 1986 following his start in the business in 1973 at Norman Lear and Jerry Perenchio’s Embassy Communications, where he ultimately held the role of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.