Alan Horn (Left) and Alan Bergman (Right) (Courtesy of Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)
Alan Bergman has been named chairman of Disney Studios Content, where he will help guide the company’s push into the world of streaming and reemergence from a global health crisis that has upended traditional ways of doing business.
Alan Horn, who served as co-chairman of the studios group with Bergman, isn’t stepping down despite rumors that he was eyeing retirement. He will continue to serve as the division’s chief creative officer, helping to guide the company’s film slate. Both men will report to Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek.
The announcement provides Disney, which has been a box office juggernaut under Bergman and Horn’s leadership, with stability at the top and comes as the axis of the movie business has shifted during the coronavirus pandemic away from cinemas and toward digital distribution. In October, Disney restructured its media and entertainment divisions to put a greater emphasis on streaming services such as Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu. When theaters do return to prominence, Disney will play a critical role in their revival thanks to its arsenal of Avengers, Star Wars and animated content.
“The Walt Disney Studios’ achievements under the leadership of Alan Horn and Alan Bergman have been nothing short of extraordinary. Having worked closely for years with Alan Bergman, an exceptional leader and proven executive, I couldn’t be more pleased to name him as Chairman,” said Chapek in a statement. “And we are incredibly fortunate to have Alan Horn continue as the Studios’ chief creative officer. Our studios are unmatched in their ability to create incredible cinematic experiences, and with this new structure, we are ensuring a vital continuity of leadership.”
Bergman is a 24-year veteran of Disney. Prior to being named co-chairman in 2019, he served as president of The Walt Disney Studios from 2005 to 2019. As sole chairman, Bergman will guide creative, production, marketing and operations for Disney Studios Content. His brief will include overseeing Disney and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He will also be tasked with directing the company’s biggest brands, which includes Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, as well as 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures, and Blue Sky Studios, which entered the Disney umbrella after the company bought most of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019. Bergman will also oversee Disney Theatrical Productions, which has been hit hard by the shut down of live events during COVID-19. Bergman is well-liked on the lot, and is seen as a shrewd executive who has both artistic chops and a keen business sense.
“I am grateful to take on the role of chairman of the Studios as I believe deeply in our people, culture, and the work we do,” said Bergman, adding, “I am also thankful to Bob Iger and Alan Horn for their leadership and the trust they’ve placed in me over the years and to Bob Chapek for his continued support, especially during this challenging year.”
In his post, Horn will continue to help guide the company’s creative direction. That’s likely welcome news for filmmakers, who revere the even-keeled Horn. Indeed, Horn has been a stabilizing force at Disney, where he was brought in at 2012 following Rich Ross’s tumultuous tenure as chairman of Walt Disney Studios. In his biography, Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger said Horn was the best hire of his career. Horn previously served as president and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. from 1999 to 2011.
“It has been an honor to lead The Walt Disney Studios over the past eight-plus years, and I’m so grateful not only to Bob Iger for making it possible in the first place but to the Studios team, whom I find endlessly inspiring – I hope they are all as proud of what we’ve been able to do together as I am,” said Horn. “It has been an amazing run, and the time feels right to shift my focus solely to our enormous creative slate. As for our new Studios Chairman, Alan Bergman has been at my side since day one; he has been the best partner imaginable, and the team could be in no better hands.”
The leads of each production studio will continue to report to both Bergman and Horn on creative matters.
Variety's Brett Lang contributed to this post.