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Longtime Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis is leaving the studio to become CEO of his wife Rachel Hollis’ company, Chic Media, and relocate his family to Texas.
Disney veteran Cathleen Taff will take over for Hollis when he departs at the end of May, following the release of Avengers: Infinity War (set for April 27) and Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25). That makes her the only female to currently run theatrical distribution at a major Hollywood studio, a job dominated by men throughout the film industry.
Taff will have expanded responsibilities in addition to distribution under the newly created title of executive vp theatrical distribution, franchise management and business and audience insights, studio president Alan Bergman announced Monday. The move brings the various duties for all films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm under one umbrella.
Taff currently leads franchise management and business and audience insights.
“The creation of this new role is a significant step in more effectively supporting and expanding the presence of The Walt Disney Studios’ world-class collection of filmmaking studios, and Cathleen Taff is the perfect person to take it on, having demonstrated an expansive knowledge of our business, incisive creative instincts, and boundless resourcefulness over the course of her multifaceted career at Disney,” Bergman said in a statement.
Hollis has led Disney’s theatrical distribution operation since 2011, playing a key role in the relaunch of the Star Wars franchise, as well as the Avengers series, Frozen and Beauty and the Beast. Most recently, he guided the release of Ryan Coogler’s blockbuster superhero film Black Panther.
During his tenure, Disney has become one of the most successful studios in Hollywood history. In 2016, it became the first studio to cross the $7 billion mark in global ticket sales in any one given year. And last year, Disney became the only studio to cross $6 billion twice.
“I am very thankful to Dave for his dynamic and fearless leadership of our distribution organization, which has seen our studio to incredible heights at the worldwide box office, culminating in our three biggest years on record and, in 2016, the biggest year in industry history,” said Bergman. “We are very sad to see him go but wish him and his family all the best.”
Rachel Hollis is an author, motivational speaker and social influencer. She was previously a regular contributor on Hallmark’s Home and Family and The Steve Harvey Show. Upon leaving Disney, her husband will serve as CEO of Chic Media.
“I can’t count the number of ‘pinch-me’ moments I’ve had in my time at Disney, and in a world where so few opportunities could compare, the chance to support my wife and help grow her company was something I couldn’t pass up,” Dave Hollis said in a statement. “It’s been an honor to work with such amazing people over these past 17 years, and I am deeply grateful for each and every one of these friendships and experiences as my family and I embark on the next chapter in our lives. One of those remarkable people is Cathleen Taff — I could not be passing the torch into more bold, capable, or caring hands.”
Added Taff, “It’s an exciting time at our studio as we continue to chart new territory in so many areas, and when we approached the idea of more closely aligning our robust global distribution operation with our franchise and analytics work, we saw a compelling opportunity to further leverage the strengths of these fantastic teams.”
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