Disney Studio Chief Alan Horn Sets Post-Fox Leadership Following Layoffs

Alan Horn_2 - Getty - H 2019
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A dozen senior executives at 20th Century Fox film were handed pink slips Thursday following the Disney-21st Century nuptials.

After upending the senior leadership ranks at 20th Century Fox on Thursday, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn and top lieutenant Alan Bergman have set the reporting structure going forward for the combined movie studios.

Horn also officially revealed that films from 20th Century Fox will be released under that banner, one that will now live alongside Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, Disney live-action, Disney Animation and Pixar in the Disney stable, all of which are overseen by Horn and Bergman.

“At the core of The Walt Disney Studios is the world-class content we produce — from unforgettable experiences for the screen and stage, to stories and characters that find their way into the hearts and homes of fans everywhere,” Horn said in a statement.

“Bringing together the legacies, talent, and capabilities of Disney and Fox greatly expands our ability to create a wide range of transportive storytelling experiences for audiences the world over, and we are thrilled to get to work together," he continued, adding that that Fox Family will move under the purview of Emma Watt's 20th Century division, while Fox 2000 will be shuttered at the end of the year.

It was a dramatic day on the Fox lot in Century City, where at least a dozen top film executives were handed pink slips one day after the Walt Disney Co.'s $71.3 billion acquisition of a large swath of 21st Century Fox closed. The surgical extraction means that there won't be duplicative positions in the upper ranks.

Marketing and distribution appeared to be hit the hardest: President of worldwide marketing Pamela Levine, co-president of marketing Kevin Campbell and chief content officer Tony Sella are all out. Their staffs will now report to Disney marketing chief Asad Ayaz, who handled the campaigns for a slew of blockbusters, including Captain Marvel.

Fox's domestic and international teams will now report to Disney's Cathleen Taff, who was elevated to distribution chief in May 2018. Her counterparts at 20th Century — domestic distribution president Chris Aronson and international distribution president Andrew Cripps — are both leaving.

It's not clear how many employees of 20th Century will be offered permanent jobs at Disney once the transition is completed. On Thursday, some staffers were told they would be kept on for at least three months; others, six months. All are entitled to severance should they be let go.

Disney closed its historic takeover of the Fox film and TV studio, FX and National Geographic cable channels, Star India, 30 percent of Hulu and more just after midnight ET on Wednesday, and layoffs have been expected ever since. Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger at the time of closing said the deal would "create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders."

Disney said prior to the close that it was eyeing $2 billion in annual cost savings by 2021, and observers presumed much of that would come by way of layoffs.

Other senior Fox film execs let go on Thursday include: executive vp corporate communications Dan Berger; executive vp legal affairs and executive vp Fox Stage productions Bob Cohen; president of product strategy and consumer business development Mike Dunn; chief data strategist Julie Rieger; chief technology officer Hanno Basse; and senior vp media promotions Michelle Marks.

It was previously known that outgoing 20th Century Fox film chairman-CEO Stacey Snider would not join Disney.

Instead, Disney tapped Watts — who is 20th Century Fox vice chairman — to guide the Fox film slate. She will retain the same title.

Fox Searchlight co-chairmen Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley have also joined Disney.

Elizabeth Gabler's Fox 2000 was also slated to join Disney for the long term, but in an 11th hour twist, those plans have changed.