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Fox Executives Emma Watts, Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula to Join Disney Studio After Merger

Watts to serve as vice chairman for Twentieth Century Fox Film and president of production

The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday announced that Emma Watts, as well as several other Fox film executives, will make the move to Disney’s studio entertainment management team after the company’s deal to acquire a majority of Fox assets closes.

“We’re pleased that these talented executives will be joining our incredible team of studio leaders once the acquisition of 21st Century Fox is completed,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “Under Alan Horn’s leadership, Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm have reached unprecedented levels of creative and box-office success, and adding Fox’s impressive film brands and franchises to our studio will allow us to create even more appealing high-quality entertainment to delight audiences.”

Watts will report directly to Disney studio head Alan Horn and will serve as vice chairman for Twentieth Century Fox Film and president of production at Fox. Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula will stay on as co-chairmen for Fox Searchlight and will also report directly to Horn, along with Elizabeth Gabler, who will serve as president of production at Fox 2000.

Disney laid out the executive landscape for its TV arm last week. The looming question had been what the crowded executive structure in film would look like. Though the studio announced who from Fox would join the new company, exactly how Disney would incorporate the Fox studio and its different banners was not made clear.

It’s also worth noting that as expected, current Fox film CEO Stacey Snider will not be joining the new company post-merger. What’s next on her plate is still unknown.

“The addition of these respected film groups under the umbrella of The Walt Disney Studios will create endless possibilities as we continue to deliver first-rate motion pictures to audiences around the world,” said Horn in a statement. “This is an experienced group of executives, and Alan Bergman and I look forward to welcoming them to our leadership ranks upon completion of the acquisition.”

Disney and Fox shareholders voted in July to approve the Mouse House’s $71.3 billion bid to buy the lion’s share of Fox’s entertainment assets. The deal is expected to close in early 2019, at which point the executive changes Disney laid out will take effect. Executives and rank and file employees at Fox have been in a state of uncertainty about their futures since the two companies agreed to the deal.

Fox and Disney had originally agreed on a $54.2 billion all-stock deal before Comcast proposed a $65 billion bid, forcing Disney to sweeten the pot. Comcast eventually dropped out of the running.

Here’s the list of executives reporting to Horn and Watts:

  • Andrea Miloro and Robert Baird, co-presidents, Fox Animation
  • Vanessa Morrison, president, Fox Family

The executives join Horn’s existing leadership team that includes:

  • Alan Bergman, president, The Walt Disney Studios
  • Sean Bailey, president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production
  • Ed Catmull, president, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Jennifer Lee, chief creative officer, Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Pete Docter, chief creative officer, Pixar Animation Studios
  • Kevin Feige, president, Marvel Studios
  • Louis D’Esposito, co-president, Marvel Studios
  • Kathleen Kennedy, president, Lucasfilm
  • Ken Bunt, president, Disney Music Group
  • Thomas Schumacher, president & producer, Disney Theatrical Group