Alan Horn named chairman of Walt Disney Studios

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Alan Horn

Alan Horn

Former Warner Bros. Entertainment president Alan Horn has been named chairman of the Walt Disney Studios effective June 11, Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced Thursday.

The move is an attempt to reverse the missteps that led to partly animated movie disaster John Carter. Horn begins slightly less than former chairman Rich Ross resigned — a move widely seen as serving as the fall guy for sci-fi bomb John Carter, a $200 million money-loser.

Horn, 69, will oversee worldwide operations for The Walt Disney Studios, including production, distribution and marketing for animated and live-action and films from Disney, Pixar and Marvel, as well as marketing and distribution for DreamWorks Studios films released under the Touchstone Pictures banner. As well, Disney’s music and theatrical divisions will report to Horn.

Horn has been a prominent figure in the film and TV industry, overseeing creative executive teams responsible for some of the world’s most successful entertainment properties, including the Harry Potter film franchise and the hit series Seinfeld.

“Alan not only has an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in the business, he has a true appreciation of movie making as both an art and a business,” said Iger. “He’s earned the respect of the industry for driving tremendous, sustained creative and financial success, and is also known and admired for his impeccable taste and integrity. He brings all of this to his new role leading our studio group, and I truly look forward to working with him.”

“I’m incredibly excited about joining The Walt Disney Company, one of the most iconic and beloved entertainment companies in the world,” said Horn. “I love the motion picture business and look forward to making a contribution as part of Bob Iger’s team working closely with the dedicated and talented group at the studio.”

“To me, he seems like the best of both worlds,” said UCLA screenwriting professor Richard Walter. “People who want successful franchises can say, ‘Look, we’ve got Alan Horn.’ People who want riskier productions can say, ‘Hey, we’ve got Alan Horn.'”

A day before the announcement, Iger told an analysts’ conference that he was looking for someone who could give consistency. “We’ve got a business that has done well on the animated front and on the Marvel front, but our results on the live-action front have been inconsistent this year in particular,” Iger said. “The goal is to find a management team that is capable of creating higher-quality films under the Disney live-action banner on a more consistent basis.”

Disney hopes to produce two animated movies per year under the Disney or Pixar banners.

Horn was most recently president and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. Entertainment, where he had oversight of the studios’ theatrical and home entertainment operations, including the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, Warner Premiere (direct-to-platform production), Warner Bros. Theatrical Ventures (live stage) and Warner Home Video. During his 12-year tenure, Warner Bros. Studios was the global box office leader seven times.

Among the numerous critically acclaimed films and box office hits released during his tenure is Happy Feet.

Before joining Warner Bros., Horn co-founded Castle Rock Entertainment, where he served as chairman and CEO. He oversaw the creation of many critically acclaimed and beloved films, including Best Picture Oscar nominees A Few Good Men, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, as well as When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers, In the Line of Fire and the most successful show in television history, Seinfeld. Horn has also served as president and chief operating officer of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, and was chairman and CEO of Embassy Communications.

He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the American Film Institute and the Museum of Broadcasting. He serves on the board of directors of the American Film Institute, as a vice-chairman of the Natural Resources Defense Council, is a co-founder of the Environmental Media Association, is on the board of trustees for the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, and is on the board of Harvard-Westlake School.

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