August 2, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Disney studio co-chairman Alan Horn passes reins to Alan Bergman

Disney is passing the torch at the top of its movie studio.

Alan Horn, who was named chairman of Walt Disney Studios in 2012, is handing the reins to veteran Disney executive Alan Bergman as the Burbank-based company takes the latest step in its transfer of power.

But Horn, 77, is not retiring. He will continue as the studio’s chief creative officer, a title he received last year, reporting to Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Chapek.

The leadership transition, which takes effect Jan. 1, was expected. Disney made Horn and Bergman co-chairmen last year, setting the stage for succession. Bergman, 54, who has been with Disney for two decades, served as studio president from 2005 to 2019 and played a key role in the integrations of acquisitions: Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm and, most recently, the 21st Century Fox film businesses.

The plan comes at a time when Disney’s studio business is taking on a massive task of filling a pipeline of new content for Disney+, the streaming service the company launched a little more than a year ago.

Disney recently announced a trove of movies and TV shows in the works for streaming, saying at its Dec. 10 investor presentation that it was planning 10 Star Wars series and TV Marvel shows, as well as dozens of titles from Walt Disney Animation, Pixar and Disney’s live action film arm. Disney+ needs new content to continue drawing subscribers, who currently number 86.8 million.

Disney has delayed many of its high-profile films amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shuttered the majority of North American cinemas. Marvel’s “Black Widow,” starring Scarlett Johansson, is currently set for a May theatrical release.

Emboldened by the success of Disney+, Chapek in October revamped Disney’s corporate structure, organizing media and entertainment units into content businesses that produce movies, TV shows and sports programming alongside a newly created group to distribute that content through traditional channels and direct-to-consumer services. Chapek succeeded Bob Iger as chief executive in February, as Iger took on the role as Executive Chairman overseeing the company’s creative endeavors.

Horn, who led rival studio Warner Bros. before joining Disney, oversaw a remarkable period of success, as Disney dominated the box office during the last several years with films from brands including Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, Pixar and Disney’s own animation and live action businesses.

The creative heads of Disney’s production arms will continue to report to both Bergman and Horn on creative matters, including Walt Disney Studios production president Sean Bailey; Pixar chief Pete Docter, Marvel president Kevin Feige, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy and Walt Disney Animation Studios head Jennifer Lee.