April 16, 2024


EXCLUSIVE: Effective immediately, Walt Disney‘s President of Motion Picture Studios, Sean Bailey, who turned their animation vault into a multi-billion dollar live-action movie business, is departing after fifteen years on the lot. In his place, Searchlight’s co-President David Greenbaum is stepping in.

Greenbaum’s new title will be President, Disney Live Action and 20th Century Studios. He’ll report to Disney Entertainment Co-Chairman Alan Bergman. Reporting to Greenbaum, Steve Asbell will continue to serve as President, 20th Century Studios, a role he’s had since March 2020.

It’s a full circle moment for Bailey: he arrived at the studio as the producer of 2010’s $400M Christmas event title Tron Legacy, and he’ll stay on to produce Joachim Ronning’s Tron: Ares before moving onto more entrepreneurial endeavors. There was buzz that Bailey was going to take over the top Netflix film job from Scott Stuber who is departing the streamer; that is not the case as we hear it.

“Sean has been an incredibly important member of the Studio’s creative team for well over a decade,” said Bergman. “He and his team have brought to the screen iconic stories and moments that have delighted fans around the world and will stand the test of time. I know he’ll continue to do great things, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s staying on as a producer of Tron: Ares.”

“These 15 years at Disney have been an incredible journey, but the time is right for a new chapter. I’m deeply grateful to my exceptional team and proud of the slate and history we’ve built together,” said Bailey. “I joined Disney while producing Tron: Legacy, so it seems fitting that I will have the opportunity to work on the latest Tron as I depart. I wish Bob Iger, Alan Bergman, and all my amazing colleagues the very best for a bright future.”

Greenbaum, who co-runs Searchlight with Matthew Greenfield, is in the midst of a hot Oscar season with the Emma Stone production Poor Things from Yorgos Lanthimos recently crossing $100M WW and becoming the label’s seventh Oscar Best Picture nominee in a row. Greenbaum was elevated to lead Searchlight with Greenfield, taking over for outgoing longtime heads Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula back in April 2021. In addition to film, he also expanded the label’s foray into TV projects for Hulu. With deep-working relationships with auteurs such as Lanthimos, Martin McDonagh, Wes Anderson, Guillermo del Toro, Taika Waititi among others, Greenbaum will bring a fresh perspective to development at Disney’s live-action motion picture studio division. While it’s a department that has been fueled by franchises, Greenbaum has a keen sensibility when it comes to developing original, director-driven fare. Under his and Greenfield’s oversee, they yielded such Oscar winning hits as The Shape of Water, Black Swan, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nomadland and critically acclaimed projects such as The Menu, The Favourite, and Wild. Prior to Searchlight, Greenbaum shepherded Oscar winners No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood as a development executive at Miramax Films.

Bailey has been a hit factory for Disney with such movies as the live-action takes of The Lion King ($1.66 billion), Beauty and the Beast ($1.2 billion), Aladdin ($1.05 billion), and The Jungle Book ($962M global) to name a few. All in, he’s yielded some $7 billion in global box office for Disney.

With the launch of Disney’s streaming service Disney+ in November 2019, Bailey expanded his duties to oversee the streamer’s live-action movies including reimaginings of Lady and the Tramp and Pinocchio, featuring Tom Hanks as Geppetto; character-driven films such as Togo; inspirational sports dramas such as Rise, about NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo; and sequels to popular originals as Hocus Pocus 2 (at one point the OTT service’s most watched movie, Enchanted follow-up Disenchanted, and Peter Pan & Wendy.

Before Disney, Bailey co-founded and ran Live Planet with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Chris Moore. Bailey served as EP executive producer for The Emperor’s Club, the Emmy Award-nominated Project GreenlightPush, Nevada (which he also co-wrote with Affleck), and as producer of Best Laid PlansMatchstick Men, and Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone.

“David has an incredible creative sensibility and eye for film, and he has built a reputation as an exceptional leader and creative executive, as proven by his track record at Searchlight Pictures and deep relationships throughout the industry,” said Bergman. “I’m thrilled that he’ll be taking on this new and important role. We’ve had the great fortune to have a strong creative leader in Steve Asbell at 20th Century, and I’m excited for him to work closely with David as we take a more strategic look across both brands from a creative and operational standpoint. I also want to thank Sean Bailey for his many contributions and leadership over his tenure at Disney. Searchlight remains in excellent hands under the guidance of Matthew Greenfield.”

“I want to thank Bob Iger and Alan Bergman for the extraordinary opportunity to continue the legacy of fabled and groundbreaking storytelling at both Disney and 20th Century – it’s an honor and responsibility I don’t take lightly, and I’m eager to get to work with Steve Asbell and the teams,” said Greenbaum. “At the same time, the last 14 years working alongside and in partnership with my dear friend and colleague Matthew Greenfield have been unforgettable – Searchlight and the incredible team there remain the gold standard for quality in our business, and I look forward to watching their continued success in the years to come.”



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