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Robert Iger Picks Ex-Warners Chief Alan Horn to Run Disney Studio; Sharp Choice

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by Anne Thompson
May 31, 2012 6:32 PM
1 Comment
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Alan Horn

This time Disney got it right.

In the wake of Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger's failed experiment in promoting from within, placing at the studio helm Disney Channel exec Rich Ross, who faced a huge learning curve in motion pictures and took the fall for $200-million write-off "John Carter," Iger has put a studio veteran in charge. Ex-Warner Bros. president Alan Horn, who was pushed out of the studio in 2011 after 12 years, couldn't be more perfect for the needs of this particular job. The executive, who didn't come cheap, starts June 11.

Iger should count himself lucky. He needed a person who was powerful and respected enough to wrangle the studio's huge egos and powerful labels--Marvel's Kevin Feige and Pixar/Disney Animation's John Lasseter, Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider's DreamWorks and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The job demands a diplomat with balls of steel and management chops. Horn, at age 69, has both.

And unlike other execs who might have little interest in churning out Disney-branded pictures, Horn is known for being a cheerfully family-friendly guy with no taste for violence. He's well-known and popular inside the industry, which counts for a lot. UPDATE: He told THR that he'll be delivering six to eight movies a year--that's more than Ross was doing-- with no budget restrictions, an important priority for someone accustomed to expansive WB universe. And he stated that branding won't be "the tail wagging the dog." Here's Variety's take.
 

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

Horn has been a prominent figure in the film and television 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 television series Seinfeld among others.

“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.”

Horn was most recently President and COO 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 are all eight films in the Harry Potter series, The Dark Knight, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Happy Feet, Sherlock Holmes, The Departed, Batman Begins, Million Dollar Baby, the second and third Matrix films and the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy. Horn is also an executive producer of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Before joining Warner Bros., Horn co-founded Castle Rock Entertainment where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. 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 (NRDC); is a co-founder of the Environmental Media Association (EMA); on the Board of Trustees for the Autry National Center in Los Angeles; and on the board of Harvard-Westlake School.

Horn received his MBA from Harvard Business School and served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force.

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1 Comment

  • Joe Beatty | May 31, 2012 6:42 PMReply

    Very good article, and Horn looks like an excellent choice.

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