Alan Horn will retire as chief creative officer of Disney Studios Content, capping a successful nearly decade-long run at the Walt Disney Company. It was one that saw Horn stabilize the film operation after a tumultuous period when Rich Ross took the reins for three tumultuous years. Under Horn, Disney successfully integrated Marvel’s film operations, rebooted the “Star Wars” film franchise after buying Lucasfilm in 2012, and maintained its dominance in the animation space.
Horn had been expected to step down with Disney Chairman Bob Iger, a close ally who is leaving the company this December. Bob Chapek took over as CEO of Disney in 2020. Iger wrote in his autobiography that Horn was his best hire. It was also a decision that may have sparked regrets in the Time Warner empire. The company pushed Horn out as Warner Bros. chief, replacing him with Jeff Robinov, who exited the studio in 2013 after a stormy tenure.
Horn will retire from the company as of December 31. He led the Walt Disney Studios as chairman from June 2012 to May 2019, when he transitioned to co-chairman and chief creative officer alongside co-chairman Alan Bergman. Since January 2021, Horn has served as chief creative officer of Disney Studios Content (formerly the Walt Disney Studios) alongside Bergman as chairman.
“It has been my great privilege and pleasure to be able to spend these past 50 years helping creative people tell stories that move, entertain, and connect audiences around the world – and a dream come true to have the chance to do it at Disney, no less,” said Horn. “I’m deeply thankful to Bob Iger for the opportunity he gave me and to Alan Bergman for being an incredible partner throughout this adventure, as well as to Bob Chapek for his steady leadership during these unprecedented times. I also must recognize the extraordinary leaders of our individual studios as well as our business teams and every single one of our fantastic team members. It’s never easy to say goodbye to a place you love, which is why I’ve done it slowly, but with Alan Bergman leading the way, I’m confident the incredible Studios team will keep putting magic out there for years to come.”
“Throughout an illustrious career spanning nearly five decades, Alan has had a profound impact on the entertainment industry and audiences worldwide,” said Iger. “We have been very fortunate to have Alan at the helm of our Studio for nearly a decade, presiding over an unprecedented period of growth and exceptional storytelling, while solidifying his reputation as one of the industry’s true icons. Like so many, I will be forever grateful for his strong support, wise counsel, and enduring friendship.”
“It has truly been a privilege to work with Alan over the years,” said Chapek. “He’s led an exceptionally talented Studio team that is the best in the industry, creating some of the most beloved and iconic films of our time, and he will forever be a cherished member of our Disney family.”
“Alan Horn is one of a kind, and we were fortunate that he chose to bring his talents to our Studios,” said Bergman. “He has been one of the most important mentors I’ve ever had, and we’re both very proud of what we’ve been able to do in our time together at the Studios leading this terrific team. I simply can’t thank him enough.”
There are no plans to replace Horn. Bergman, a well-respected and well-liked executive and Disney veteran, will continue to oversee the film division as it builds up its streaming arsenal.
During Horn’s nine years at Disney, the studio set numerous records at the box office, surpassing $7 billion globally in 2016 and 2018 and $11 billion in 2019, the only studio ever to have reached these thresholds. During his tenure, Disney released 20 films that surpassed the billion-dollar mark, including the biggest domestic release of all time (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) and the second biggest global release of all time (“Avengers: Endgame”).
Prior to joining Disney, Horn held key leadership roles at prominent studios since starting his career in entertainment in 1973 at Embassy Communications. In 1987, he co-founded Castle Rock Entertainment, which he led as chairman until 1999, when he joined Warner Bros., where he served as president and chief operating officer until 2011. In these roles he was involved with “Batman Begins” and the “Harry Potter” series, as well as “The Departed,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “When Harry Met Sally…,” and “Seinfeld.”