December 6, 2023

EXCLUSIVE: Derval Whelan, who previously worked at Searchlight Pictures for 14 years until 2021, is returning to the Disney specialty label as their Head of Distribution. She takes over for former Head of Distribution Frank Rodriguez, who Deadline told you departed for Amazon MGM to be their General Sales Manager.

Whelan will be responsible for strategizing and implementing release patterns for the company’s slate. She’ll be based in New York.

Presidents of Searchlight Pictures David Greenbaum and Matthew Greenfield beamed, “We’ve known Derval for a long time, she was part of some of our most incredible successes over the years. Her expertise and acumen in the distribution space are unrivalled, and we couldn’t be happier to have her back at Searchlight.”

During Whelan’s time in distribution at Searchlight she worked on such Oscar winning titles as 12 Years a Slave, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Shape of Water, Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Black Swan, and Slumdog Millionaire

Most recently, Whelan was President of Distribution at Bleecker Street where she oversaw all aspects of theatrical distribution strategies on films including Dream Horse starring Toni Collette and Damian Lewis. She also previously held positions at Sony Pictures Classics, Miramax and MK2 USA, and started her career at Orion Classics. She received her MA from the NYU Cinema Studies program.

Upcoming Searchlight releases include Yorgos Lanthimos’ Venice Golden Lion winner Poor Things, starring and produced by Emma Stone which hits theaters on Dec. 8 in NY and LA. That movie is currently 95% certified fresh. There’s also Andrew Haigh’s critically acclaimed romantic drama All of Us Strangers, which is nominated for four Gotham Awards and 14 British Independent Film Awards. Next year in 2024, Searchlight will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary after being founded in 1994 as Fox Searchlight Pictures.

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