Two COOs upped at Fox Searchlight

Stephen Gilula, Nancy Utley promoted to president

Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley, who have been serving as chief operating officers of Fox Searchlight Pictures, have been promoted to presidents of Fox's specialty film division.

Under new multiyear deals, they will report directly to Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos.

The duo -- Gilula comes from the exhibition/distribution arena, while Utley has a marketing background -- were named COOs of Searchlight in 2006 and, along with Searchlight's then-president Peter Rice, saw the unit release such critical and commercial hits as best picture Oscar winner "Slumdog Millionaire," "Juno," "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Sideways."

Rice left Searchlight in March when he was named Fox Broadcasting's entertainment chairman. With their promotion, Gilula and Utley effectively take over the reins that had been held by Rice, with whom they had a collaborative working relationship.

Along with president of production Claudia Lewis, they will manage all aspects of the company, including production, acquisitions, marketing and distribution.

"Nancy and Stephen are two of the most talented executives in the film industry, as evidenced by their long-term track record in building Searchlight into the preeminent company of its kind, their outstanding relationships with filmmakers and their continued passion for quality," Rothman and Gianopulos said. "We are in the enviable position of being able to tap such quality executives from our ranks, which signifies continuity not only within the company but within the specialized film business as well."

During their combined tenure at Searchlight, Utley and Gilula have marketed and distributed 77 movies, which have earned more than $1.3 billion at the domestic boxoffice, while earning 46 Academy Award nominations and 15 wins.

Before joining Searchlight, Utley was Fox's exec vp marketing. She also held posts as vp media, senior vp media and research and exec vp marketing, media and research. Before Fox, she worked at BBDO and Grey Advertising.

Before joining Searchlight, Gilula served as president and CEO of Landmark Theatres, which he co-founded in 1974. He grew the company from one screen, the NuArt Theatre in West Los Angeles, to a national chain of more than 140 screens, dominating specialty film exhibition. Gilula spent five years on the board of directors and executive committee of the National Association of Theatre Owners and served as chairman of NATO of California/Nevada for six years. He began his career as a film booker/buyer at United Artists Theatre Circuit in San Francisco.