By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 14, 2010 at 11:56AM
Ben Affleck is a happy man.
His ex-LivePlanet partner and Gone Baby Gone producer Sean Bailey, one of the brains behind Project Greenlight, has landed as head of production at Disney, replacing outgoing exec Oren Aviv. That's because one upcoming tentpole that has sent new Disney chairman Rich Ross over the moon is Joseph Kosinki's remake Tron Legacy, which scored big with genre fans at July's Comic-Con. Ross had already agreed to develop a new project with Bailey and Kosinski, a remake of Disney's 1979 sci-fi thriller The Black Hole.
Ross also approached for the gig Summit's Erik Feig, who wasn't willing to leave the little studio that Twilight built. Why? As an early investor in Summit, Feig stands to profit handsomely if someone buys the company.
It is revealing of Ross's thinking that he would choose someone to run production who is not a career production executive, but a filmmaker. Ex-Disney chairman Joe Roth was another studio exec who did not rise through the development or marketing ranks, but produced movies. "Sean brings great creative instincts and considerable filmmaking experience to his new role," stated Ross, citing Bailey's "close relationships throughout the creative community."
The LAT suggests that Bailey is a film business outsider, like his new boss. That is not the case. He's someone Ross felt comfortable communicating with, and who has delivered product that Ross clearly wants more of. Does this throw the agency community for a loop? Sure. They dislike an unknown quantity. But which studio right now is best positioned to move forward in the brave new digital world that Tron on some level portrays? It's Disney.
Ex-Variety staffer Daniel Frankel lays out all the Disney studio changes announced today. “Our industry is evolving rapidly and in order to remain at its forefront, we are adapting our organization to be more agile, creative and responsive,” stated Ross.