The new “Suits” in town. Disney and Lucasfilm have new additions to their executive leadership with Alan Horn and Kathleen Kennedy respectively.
Warner Bros. is not known for frequent change within their corporate structure, however over the past two years key executives in production, marketing, and distribution have been promoted or ousted, the latter action happened despite high box-office sales. Alan Horn was replaced as Chief Operating Officer of Warner Bros. by then leading production executive Jeff Robinov. Mr. Horn’s track record with Warner Bros. was stellar; yet due to the reducing of production deals and the number of films being made annually (and perhaps the need to promote others who have paid their dues), Mr. Horn’s tenure ended after 13 years at the Burbank based studio. Now Mr. Horn has been hired by Disney CEO Robert “Bob” Igler to oversee all Disney productions, which includes Marvel and Pixar pictures. The greatest challenge that I see coming to Mr. Horn’s team is to continue financing original ideas once the superhero craze is over. As much as I (and the rest of the world) have enjoyed The Avengers, Iron Man, Iron Man 2 etc., the obsession with heroes with extraordinary abilities will eventually end for a decade, or settle down significantly. This seasoned studio mogul must be able to spark creativity to keep Disney profits steady, and continue complementing the art and science of filmmaking. Pixar is renowned for its creativity and anti-redundancy (with the exception of Cars 2), and does not appear to be running out of fresh ideas in the near future. To supplement the live-action side of the spectrum, the challenge will be daunting. Take for instance Universal’s Jason Bourne series: Would audiences seriously consider watching an action thriller with the glitzy Disney logo preceding the opening scene? Can Disney find the proper book series to adapt into a lucrative franchise? Alan Horn’s tenure may somewhat rest on the preceding questions.
Mr. George Lucas is retiring (for real for real this time) from orthodox filmmaking and dedicating his professional time to experimental filmmaking. In the wake of this decision, Mr. Lucas has hired the world’s second most successful producer, Kathleen Kennedy to co-chair Lucasfilm. Madame Kennedy has the commerce savvy and the love of film to contribute to the business and creativity ends of the film industry spectrum. I am not sure if any potential sequels are prequels to the slightly underperforming (but well intentioned) Red Tails will be on Kennedy’s and COO Micheline Chau’s radar. And only wild assumptions can be made about the future of the Star Wars series. Kennedy’s presence could also help streamline the negotiations of utilizing Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic division for other movies requiring heavy visual effects.