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The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Steve Asbell has been named president of production at 20th Century Studios, taking over for Emma Watts, who departed the post last month.
Asbell has served as executive vp production at the studio formerly known as 20th Century Fox since 2012, and has been with the studio since 2002. He has worked on the studio’s big-budgeted productions, including James Mangold’s Logan and Ford v Ferrari, and Ridley Scott’s The Martian. Asbell is currently overseeing production on Scott’s The Last Duel and the Murder on the Orient Express follow-up Death on the Nile.
In his new post, Asbell will report to Walt Disney Studios co-chairman and chief creative officer Alan Horn and co-chairman Alan Bergman.
Additionally, Vanessa Morrison has been named president of streaming at Walt Disney Studios, overseeing the development and production of Disney+ film content from both Disney Live Action and 20th Century Studios.
Morrison, who most recently served as president of Fox Family after serving a decade as president of Fox Animation, will report to Walt Disney Studios president of production Sean Bailey. Her credits include installments in the Ice Age and Rio franchises, as well as Ferdinand and The Peanuts Movie.
Philip Steuer will now lead physical and postproduction, as well as VFX, as president of production at Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, while Randi Hiller will now lead casting as executive vp casting, overseeing for both Disney Live Action and 20th Century Studios. In their respective positions, Steuer and Hiller have worked on some of the studio’s biggest live-action releases, including The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.
Steuer, who served as executive vp physical production for Walt Disney Studios since 2015, and Hiller, who led casting for Walt Disney Studios since 2011, will dual-report to Asbell and Bailey.
The executive news comes on the heels of a bigger shake-up at the company in which Bob Iger announced his departure as CEO of Disney and named Bob Chapek as his replacement. At the time, Iger, who will continue to head the board of directors of the company as executive chairman, said he would focus on “getting everything right creatively.”
The email sent to staff from Horn and Bergman is below.
You’ve no doubt seen the recent messages from Bob Chapek and Jayne Parker regarding the developing COVID-19 situation here and around the world. We are all monitoring the situation closely and making adjustments as necessary. Our primary concern is for everyone’s health and well-being, and we want to reinforce everything that Bob and Jayne have said. Please, take care of yourself and your loved ones and talk with your leader to make any necessary accommodations during this time.
As this is a fluid and rapidly changing situation, strong leadership is essential, and to that end, we have some news that we would like to share with you regarding new Studio team leads.
We are pleased to announce that Steve Asbell has been named President, Production, 20th Century Studios. For those of you who don’t know Steve, he has served as EVP, Production, at 20th Century since 2012 and a creative executive there since 2002. He has been closely involved in many of Fox’s biggest films over the past two decades – including Best Picture nominees Ford v Ferrari and The Martian as well as films like Logan and Chronicle – and we couldn’t be more delighted to have him take on leadership of the studio. 20th Century Studios has a robust slate set for this year, including Free Guy, Death on the Nile, The King’s Man, and West Side Story, and the team is currently in development on a number of compelling titles for 2021 and beyond.
In addition, Vanessa Morrison has been named President, Streaming, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production. She will oversee development and production of our film projects for Disney+, with the ability to leverage great stories and characters from across the rich histories of both Disney and 20th Century, as well as new content. Vanessa will report to Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production President Sean Bailey.
Finally, we are aligning some production functions at Disney Live Action and 20th Century Studios to enable greater coordination of many of our live-action productions. Two key areas where we think this will be most effective are physical and post production/VFX and casting. To that end, we can share that Phil Steuer has been named President, Production, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, and Randi Hiller has been named EVP, Casting, overseeing these respective areas for the two production studios, dual-reporting to Sean and Steve. In these roles, they will also be able to provide support for the Searchlight Pictures team.
As we near the one-year mark of the close of the Fox deal, we recognize the change that our Studio has been through during this time. We have both gained and lost great people along the way, and while we are looking toward a bright future, it has at times been difficult and uncertain. We have now largely completed the most significant changes we anticipate with relation to the acquisition.
With such concerns as COVID-19 on everyone’s minds, no one can predict the future, but we know that we are a Studio filled with smart, capable, and caring people who can adjust to every eventuality. Thank you so much for all your continued hard work and dedication, and once again, take care of yourself.
Alan & Alan
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