Sean Bailey, the producer and executive who has overseen Walt Disney Studios’ live-action division for almost 15 years, is exiting the studio. The announcement was made yesterday.

In his place, David Greenbaum, who ran Searchlight Pictures, will take over. This is a new role in the structure listed as President – Disney Live-Action and 20th Century Studios. Greenbaum will report through to Disney Entertainment co-chairman Alan Bergman.



Bailey was in the big corner office for The Little Mermaid and Peter And Wendy, and the division created a monumental $1 billion loss last year. All the nice press releases and platitudes as statements won’t mask the fact that we all know why this is happening.

 The announcement days Greenbaum will lead:

“…a combined studio group that will be home to both iconic film brands, producing a robust collection of original and legacy projects unique to each for theatrical and streaming, while increasing collaboration across the production slate.”

Greenbaum’s previous forte was smaller-scale, prestige filmmaking at Searchlight, churning out numerous awards contenders from The Shape of Water and Nomadland to movies like The Menu and The Grand Budapest Hotel. He was behind No Country For Old Men at Miramax. Potentially a curious choice for big-budget, VFX-laden products that Disney has tended to sling. Greenbaum does have a strong reputation for being talent-friendly, potentially something that has been lacking at the studio for a while.

Disney elevated Bailey to president of production in 2010 and he implemented the strategy of moving away from original movies to focus on remaking the company’s animated classics in live-action. It was a strategy that paid off big-time for a while. Lately, however, they haven’t been able to buy a hit while getting themselves deeper into the culture war for no discernable business benefit.

So Bailey is out, and Greenbaum is in. Greenbaum said in a statement:

“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.”

Meanwhile, the rest of us just want to return to the days when Disney brought us Con-Air and Armageddon under the Touchstone Picture banner, or The Rock via Buena Vista.

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