Alan Bergman, Alan Horn to Share Co-Chairman Title at Disney Studios

Alan Horn and Alan Bergman - Split-Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Disney/Andrew Macpherson Macfly Corp; Disney

The execs will jointly oversee the company's film, music and theater groups, as well as the studio's marketing, distribution and human resources.

In a move that bolsters its longtime, box office-dominating leadership structure, Walt Disney Studios has promoted Alan Bergman, the studio’s president since 2005, to co-chairman of the company’s entertainment division.

Bergman, who is known for his business acumen and was a key player in the $71.3 billion acquisition of most 21st Century Fox assets, will now work side-by-side with Alan Horn, who has been chairman since 2012, with the two now acting as co-chairmen. Horn, known for his focus on the screenplay process and talent relations, takes on the additional role of chief creative officer.

As co-chairmen, Bergman and Horn will jointly oversee Disney’s film, music and theater groups, as well as the studio's global marketing, distribution, communications and human resources.

Bergman will continue to oversee the studio's business groups including operations, technology, business and legal affairs, labor relations and finance.

"Seven years ago, I had the good fortune of hiring Alan Horn as chairman of our studios, and since then, our studio entertainment group has delivered creative excellence and tremendous box office success," Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger said Wednesday in a statement.

Added Iger, "Alan Bergman’s leadership has also been key to making our studios the gold standard of the industry. The new ‘co-chair’ structure formally recognizes the powerful partnership behind one of the most successful eras in our studios’ history and ensures we remain focused on creating extraordinary entertainment experiences for audiences around the world."

The promotions come as Disney is enjoying the massive $1.2 billion bow of Avengers: Endgame, made by the company's Marvel Studios division. The studio's upcoming release slate includes the tentpoles Aladdin (due out May 24), Toy Story 4 (June 21), The Lion King (July 19), Artemis Fowl (Aug. 9), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Oct. 18) and Frozen 2 (Nov. 22), as well as Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker (Dec. 20). 

As president, Bergman led Disney’s integration of Marvel when it acquired the comic book entertainment company in 2009, and the earlier integration of Pixar Animation Studios. Horn and Bergman oversaw the assimilation of Star Wars producer Lucasfilm, and the two are now handling the incorporation of Fox’s film labels, such as 20th Century Fox, Fox Family, Fox Searchlight and Blue Sky Studios.

Since the 2012 arrival of Horn, the veteran who previously led the film division at Warner Bros., Disney has enjoyed perhaps the most stable executive stewardships in the film business. Under Horn and Bergman's aegis, the studio became the first and only to cross the $7 billion mark at the global box office in a year, first in 2016, reaching $7.6 billion, and again in 2018 with $7.3 billion, when it also set an industry record of $3.09 billion domestically. A Disney release has led the box office domestically and globally every year since 2015.

Some are comparing the Horn-Bergman combination to the partnership of Terry Semel and Bob Daly, the co-chairmen who made Warner Bros. the dominant studio in the 1990s.

"When I joined the Walt Disney Studios as chairman in 2012, I was fortunate to gain an immensely talented, passionate, and dedicated leadership team, chief among them Alan Bergman, who has been a trusted partner and friend ever since," said Horn.

He continued, "We’ve worked in close consultation throughout my tenure, and the success we’ve had over the past several years would not have been possible without him. As The Walt Disney Studios has grown to encompass not only Disney but Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and now the Fox film division, I’m thrilled to acknowledge how Alan’s role has likewise expanded by naming him to lead the studios alongside me as co-chairman."

Added Bergman, "The Walt Disney Studios team is the best in the business, and I’ve been inspired to do my best every day because of the extraordinary group of people I’m fortunate enough to work with. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished together, and it’s a great honor to be asked to serve as co-chairman alongside Alan as we look forward to the years ahead."

Pamela McClintock contributed to this report.