- May 2nd, 2019- Entertainment
LOS ANGELES — Two of the film industry’s fiercest competitors, Walt Disney Studios and Universal Pictures, each made moves to strengthen themselves on Wednesday.
Alan F. Horn, 76, the chairman of Disney’s movie division, which includes Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox, agreed to extend his contract for an unspecified number of years as part of an arrangement that adds a title — chief creative officer — and a partner. Alan Bergman, 53, who has been president of Disney’s movie operation since 2005, was promoted to co-chairman.
They will both report to Robert A. Iger, chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, who said the new leadership structure ensured that “we remain focused on creating extraordinary entertainment experiences for audiences around the world.” Disney’s most recent movie, “Avengers: Endgame,” arrived with a record-breaking $1.2 billion in global ticket sales last weekend.
Mr. Bergman’s promotion positions him as a possible successor to Mr. Horn and reflects the added responsibilities that have arisen from Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox assets. That $71.3 billion deal, which closed in March, added a great deal to Mr. Horn’s portfolio, including big-budget Fox movies like the coming “Avatar” sequels, art-house films made by Fox Searchlight and an animation studio.
Disney is also increasing the number of movies made by its signature label, the result of a need for original content to power the company’s coming Disney Plus streaming service.
Universal Pictures announced that one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, Amy Pascal, 61, would move her production company to its fold. Ms. Pascal ran Sony Pictures for 11 years before becoming a Sony-based producer in 2015, following a cyberattack on the studio.
“We’re fortunate to benefit from her wealth of industry knowledge and her unparalleled relationships,” Donna Langley, chairman of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, said in a statement. Universal, home to the “Jurassic World” and “Fast and Furious” franchises, has carved out a niche in Hollywood as a diversity-minded studio. Universal’s most recent movie, “Us,” directed by Jordan Peele, took in $250 million worldwide.
Under her four-year producing deal with Sony, which is expiring, Ms. Pascal defied the odds. Former studio chiefs rarely succeed as producers, in no small part because the transition requires a considerable deflation in ego. But she hit the ground running, joining the producing team for Sony’s most important film property — the Spider-Man series — and pushing forward smaller movies like “The Post,” which earned her an Oscar nomination for best picture in 2017.
She produced “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which received the Oscar for best animated film in February. Coming up on Ms. Pascal’s slate are movies like “Little Women,” a Sony remake directed by Greta Gerwig, and a sequel to “Venom,” which took in $855 million worldwide last year.
Ms. Pascal will continue to produce “Spider-Man” films for Sony.
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