Movies

Hollywood insiders are speculating that Disney's Bob Iger, Alan Horn and others are headed for the exit

  • Disney movie chief Alan Horn, aged 77, is the center of speculation that he is about to depart.
  • Horn and Disney chairman Bob Iger are expected to leave around the same time.
  • Wall Street wants to know details of Disney's plan to boost its subscription streaming business without hurting the film box office.
  • Other Disney insiders cautioned that it would be wrong to say Horn is retiring as nothing is imminent; Disney declined to comment.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Walt Disney Company could look a whole lot different in 2021 when it comes to the C-suite. 

Business Insider talked to four Hollywood executives who suggest a raft of widely expected senior management changes are imminent. The Walt Disney Company movie chief, Alan Horn, is telling friends he is planning to leave at the end of the year, according to one senior movie industry source.

Horn, 77, whose title is co-chairman and chief creative officer of Disney Studios Content, has spent the past eight years overseeing Disney's non-stop hit movie machine. Horn, whose co-chairman is Alan Bergman, has credits which include some of the biggest movie franchises in history including the Marvel and the Star Wars series.

"There will be news about Alan Horn," said another movie industry insider. "Alan is a legend, he's been around forever. They have a good stable of film pickers there." 

That person also told Business Insider: "I have heard it's going to be the end of the year. Alan is such a great business guy. Bob [Iger] kissed the ground he walked on. He gave Bob credibility in features when he was figuring out his job. He's [Horn] is not into company politics, he just did his job." 

Horn joined back in 2012 after exiting Warner Bros., where he oversaw the hugely successful "Harry Potter" franchise. Disney's 2021 film slate which includes movies such as "Black Widow," starring Scarlett Johanssen is already set, leaving Horn an opportunity to step down.

Other Disney insiders cautioned that it would be wrong to say Alan Horn is retiring as nothing is "imminent." Disney declined to comment.

The chatter comes as all eyes are on how Disney will treat its theatrical releases in the wake of WarnerMedia's move to release its films simultaneously in theaters and on streaming. The windowing strategy is expected to be unveiled on Thursday at an investor event.

New chief executive Bob Chapek is restructuring the company in support of its streaming platforms, at a time when  the pandemic is still wreaking havoc with movie production and theme park attendance.

Separately, Disney executive chairman, Bob Iger, who is officially still with Disney through the end of 2021, has in recent weeks signalled his desire for a new career path.

When asked about joining the Biden Administration, in an interview aired on Bloomberg TV, Iger responded: "I've always thought about what the next chapter in my life might be post-Disney, because there will be a post-Disney soon." He told interviewer David Rubenstein, "I'm not going to fail stepping down again," a reference to each time he signed a new employment deal to remain at the company instead of exiting.

Iger said private equity had reached out to gauge interest in hiring him. 

Iger told interviewer Rubenstein, who is the co-chairman of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group, that he would think about public service, potentially in the Biden Administration, "Serving our country is certainly something I would consider seriously but a lot would depend on what it is." The interview is seen as signalling Iger is ready to hit the exits. 

Hollywood sources say that Horn and Iger were likely to step down in tandem. Disney film co-head Alan Bergman would continue running the studio. The Disney general counsel, Alan Braverman, who is in his early seventies and has been with the company for decades, may also be ready to hang up his mouse ears after decades of service. A former Disney exec told Business Insider that back in the summer, Chapek had told business partners that a lot of senior top executives would be retiring in the coming months. 

Meanwhile, Disney will be looking to Wall Street to help pop the stock, with news a raft of news announcements about plans for its growing streaming businesses both at home and overseas.

Speculation that Disney might follow Warner Bros. down the path of more day and date releases of movies on streaming and in the theaters is rife, though Matthew Belloni, the former editorial director of Hollywood Reporter, told Business Insider: "Disney has consistently backed the theatrical window and has had unprecedented success in theaters in recent years so I predict a very different posture than at WarnerMedia."

He added: "At the same time expect a slew of new projects for Disney+ and Hulu." 

A rep for Disney declined comment and Iger, Horn and Braverman were not immediately reachable. 

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