Ex-Warner Bros. Exec Becomes Disney Studio Chief
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Walt Disney Co. said Thursday that it hired former president of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Alan Horn, to lead its movie studio as chairman, a personnel move that attempts to right the wrongs that led to blockbuster bomb "John Carter."
Horn, 69, oversaw the hugely successful runs of the "Harry Potter" and "The Dark Knight" movies at Warner Bros. and is one of the highest-profile executives in Hollywood. Horn had stepped down at Warner Bros. in April 2011 and had a consulting agreement through 2013. He’s also credited as a producer on the upcoming "Hobbit" movies.
Horn starts at Disney on June 11, just under two months after Rich Ross, the company’s former chairman stepped down. That move was widely seen as Ross taking the fall for "John Carter," the science-fiction movie set on Mars which caused an epic $200 million write-off for Disney.
Ross had a TV background, developing hits like "Hannah Montana" and "High School Musical" as former head of Disney Channels Worldwide. Television projects tend to have more time to develop than movies and cost less. Movie projects are high-pressure ventures in which minimizing risk is a key factor in decision-making.
Horn appears to be a safer bet for Disney. He is a veteran movie-studio executive, who also brings with him independent-producer chops.
Before joining Warner Bros., Horn cofounded and was CEO of Castle Rock Entertainment, which made such acclaimed films as "A Few Good Men," ’’The Shawshank Redemption" and "When Harry Met Sally." Horn has also served as president and chief operating officer of News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox.
"To me, he seems like the best of both worlds," said Richard Walter, a screenwriting professor at UCLA. "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.’"