Business / Corporate

Disney promotes Alan Bergman to studio co-chairman; May 4 officially declared 'Star Wars Day'

Bloomberg, AP

Walt Disney Co. elevated Alan Bergman to co-chairman of its film division, putting the longtime company veteran in line to potentially lead Hollywood’s most-successful movie business.

Bergman, 53, was promoted to co-chairman alongside Alan Horn, 76, who was given the added title of chief creative officer of the Walt Disney Studios after leading the division to unprecedented box-office heights. They will jointly oversee Disney’s film, music and theater operations, as well as its marketing and distribution globally, the company said Wednesday.

After joining Disney in 2012, Horn led the Burbank, California-based studio on a stellar run, marked by huge hits from Lucasfilm, Marvel Entertainment and Pixar, all acquired businesses. Bergman’s elevation coincides with the $71 billion purchase of entertainment assets from 21st Century Fox, which greatly expands the slate Disney must manage, including “Avatar” movies.

“Seven years ago, I had the good fortune of hiring Alan Horn as chairman of our studios, and since then, our Studio Entertainment group has delivered creative excellence and tremendous box office success,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “The new ‘co-chair’ structure formally recognizes the powerful partnership behind one of the most successful eras in our studios’ history and ensures we remain focused on creating extraordinary entertainment.”

Bergman has been with Disney since 1996 and has been president of the Walt Disney Studios since 2005. He will continue to oversee the studios’ business groups, including operations, technology, business and legal affairs, labor relations, and finance, while Horn guides the overarching creative strategy.

Disney hired Horn from Warner Bros., which had led the box office for years. There are no plans for him to retire, but the elevation of Bergman marks a potential longer-term succession plan for the studio.

With films like “Avengers: Endgame” Disney has set new box-office records, earning over $1.3 billion in just a few days since its release. This year the studio is on track to challenge its own record-breaking 2018. The slate includes the final installment of its “Star Wars” trilogy, a remake of “The Lion King” and a sequel to “Frozen.”

Under the current leadership, Disney became the first and only studio to cross the $7 billion mark at the global box office.

In related news, the California Legislature voted Thursday to declare May 4 “Star Wars Day” in recognition of a Disneyland theme park slated to open later this month.

It’s a play on the Star Wars’ phrase “may the force be with you.” The resolution by Democratic Assemblyman Tom Daly says it’s the largest single-site expansion in the park’s history and could generate $14 million in tax revenue for the city of Anaheim annually.

The resolution also recognizes the Walt Disney Company’s “decades-long record of enhancing the quality of life for people in California and beyond.”

A charity group that dresses up as Stormtroopers are at the Capitol and a hot air balloon that looked like Yoda flew outside.