The Walt Disney Co. has named Hollywood veteran Alan Horn chairman of the Walt Disney Studios. He’ll take the reins of the Burbank entertainment giant’s struggling movie operation after the rocky tenure of ousted chief Rich Ross.
Horn assumes the helm on June 11, with responsibilities to oversee production, distribution and marketing of live-action and animated films from Disney and its units Pixar Animation Studios and Marvel. Horn is a seasoned and well-regarded executive, who as president and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. Entertainment oversaw such successful recent film franchises as Harry Potter and Batman.
“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,”Walt Disney Co.Chief Executive Robert A. Iger said in a statement. “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.”
Horn will be under enormous pressure to bring stability back to Disney Studios, which was roiled by management upheaval and box-office troubles under Ross. Under his tenure, the studio took a $200-million write-down on the costly sci-fi adventure film"John Carter.”
“I’m incredibly excited about joining The Walt Disney Company, one of the most iconic and beloved entertainment companies in the world,” Horn said in a statement.
Horn was pushed out of Warner Bros. last year after a largely successful 12-year run. Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes chose not to renew Horn’s contract when he extended studio chairman Barry Meyer’s deal through 2013 and set up a bake-off among television chief Bruce Rosenblum, home entertainment chief Kevin Tsujihara, and film chief Jeff Robinov for the top position.
The new Disney studio head had close relationships at Warner with prickly creative talent like director Clint Eastwood and “Potter” author J.K. Rowling, experience that will serve him well in dealing with such big personalities as “Pirates of the Caribbean” producer Jerry Bruckheimer, filmmaker Steven Spielberg and Pixar’s and Disney Animation’s creative guru John Lasseter.
Horn was known for personally preferring less raunchy fare, spending more of his time on the “Potter” movies and the animated “Happy Feet” than the R-rated “Hangover,” a sensibility that should mesh well with the Disney family brand.
Since leaving Warner last spring, Horn has served as an executive producer on Warner’s upcoming pair of “Hobbit” movies, helping to manage relations with director Peter Jackson, and is also a consultant on the studio’s stage business.
Prior to joining Warner Bros., Horn co-founded Castle Rock Entertainment, where he served as chairman and chief executive. He oversaw the creation of many critically acclaimed and beloved films including best picture Oscar nominees and hits like “A Few Good Men” and “The Shawshank Redemption.” Horn has also served as president and chief operating officer of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and was chairman and chief executive of Embassy Communications.