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Twentieth Century Fox Film has promoted Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley to chairmen of Fox Searchlight Pictures and signed them to multiyear contracts.
TCFF’s CEO/chairman, Stacey Snider, to whom Utley and Gilula will continue to report, announced the move today. It comes as Disney is in the process of buying many of 21st Century Fox’s film and TV assets. However, once Disney absorbs those acquisitions, Searchlight is expected to survive as a specialty film unit.
For the moment, the two execs will continue to oversee Fox’s successful specialty film business and will shepherd a newly created television division. As previously announced, the production duties for Searchlight Television will be directly overseen by Fox Searchlight’s recently promoted presidents of production for film and television, Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum.
Gilula and Utley have partnered for more than 18 years and have jointly served as presidents of Searchlight since 2009. They first collaborated on the award-winning Boys Don’t Cry, released in 1999. Since then, they have overseen the release of 150 Searchlight productions and acquisitions, which have collectively won 36 Oscars and earned 132 Oscar nominations – including 15 best picture noms.
Under Utley and Gilula, Searchlight also claimed four of the past 10 Oscar winners for best picture — Slumdog Millionaire, 12 Years a Slave, Birdman and The Shape of Water— a feat not achieved by any other studio in over 25 years.
In addition, Searchlight’s worldwide box-office grosses have topped $5 billion during their tenure, including recent hits The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, both of which surpassed the $100 million mark on a global basis.
“The collaborative and innovative partnership that Nancy and Steve have created over the years is quite simply the gold standard in all of Hollywood. They have not only shepherded Academy Award-winning pictures and global box-office successes, but also cemented Searchlight as a worldwide brand — now covering both film and television — that constantly sets the bar for the entire specialty film marketplace. It is a privilege to announce their promotions to chairmen of Fox Searchlight Pictures, and I couldn’t be happier for Nancy and Steve on both a personal and professional level,” Snider said in a statement.
In a joint statement, Utley and Gilula added, “We are honored to continue the work of Searchlight, in collaboration with our brilliant filmmakers, aided by our extremely talented, hardworking and passionate staff, and with the deeply appreciated support of Stacey and all our Fox colleagues.”
Before joining Searchlight, Gilula served as president and CEO of Landmark Theatres, which he co-founded in 1974. Before Searchlight, Utley held various post in Fox’s marketing department, where she eventually rose to executive vp marketing.
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