Industry veteran Alan Horn, chief creative officer of Disney Studios Content, said on Monday (October 11) that he will retire from the company on December 31. Alan Bergman will continue as chairman of Disney Studios Content.
Horn’s nine years at Disney brings to an end an entertainment career spanning nearly half a century and marks the curtain call of a widely respected executive with deep talent connections who was renowned for his urbane manner.
After Disney had put out embarrassing flops like John Carter Horn righted the ship when he arrived as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios in June 2012, a post he held until May 2019 when he became 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 at the studio entertainment group, which encompasses Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures, and Disney Theatrical Productions.
During his tenure Horn presided over the integration of Lucasfilm in 2012 and the Fox film studios in 2019, as well as the expansion into producing content for Disney’s streaming services in line with the company’s overall mandate to place streaming front and centre of its business.
Disney set multiple records at the box office during Horn’s time, becoming the only studio to cross $7bn at the global box office in 2016 and 2018 and $11bn in 2019. Among the 20 releases to cross $1bn were the biggest North American release of all time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the second biggest global hit, Avengers: Endgame. The studio also released the biggest animated film of all time in North America and worldwide – Incredibles 2 and Frozen 2.
According to reports Horn is unlikely to be replaced as all the Disney divisions have leaders in place, all of whom report to Bergman.
“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, who thanked executive chairman Bob Iger “for the opportunity he gave me”, Bergman “for being an incredible partner throughout this adventure”, and CEO Bob Chapek “for his steady leadership during these unprecedented times”.
He continued, “I also must recognise 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.”
Iger said, “Throughout an illustrious career spanning nearly five decades, Alan has had a profound impact on the entertainment industry and audiences worldwide. 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.”
Chapek said Horn would “forever be a cherished member of our Disney family”. Bergman said, “Alan Horn is one of a kind, and we were fortunate that he chose to bring his talents to our studios. 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.”
Horn started 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 COO until 2011. In these roles he oversaw the creative executive teams behind films like Batman Begins and the Harry Potter series, The Shawshank Redemption, When Harry Met Sally…, and Seinfeld.