Disney Shakeup: Sean Bailey Out as Production President, David Greenbaum to Lead Newly Combined Live-Action Division and 20th Century Studios

Disney executive Sean Bailey is exiting after 15 years as the motion picture group’s president of production. He’ll be replaced by Searchlight’s chief David Greenbaum, who has been named to the newly created role of president of Live Action and 20th Century Studios.

In his new post, effective immediately, Greenbaum will report to Disney Entertainment co-chairman Alan Bergman. This shakeup merges two of Disney’s film divisions: live-action (responsible for remakes and spinoffs of the studio’s classics) and 20th Century Studios (formerly known as Fox, the husk of the company that Disney bought in 2019).

“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,” Bergman said in a statement. “I’m thrilled that he’ll be taking on this new and important role.”

Bailey, who has overseen Disney’s live-action slate since 2010, isn’t completely cutting ties to the company. He will segue to serve as a producer on “Tron: Ares” and other studio projects. During his tenure, he oversaw adaptations of beloved properties, like 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” 2014’s “Maleficent,” and 2016’s “Jungle Book,” as well as a string of billion-dollar hits like “The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin.” But Disney endured a rough 2023 at the box office, including the big-budget misfire of “The Haunted Mansion,” which hailed from Bailey’s division. While “The Little Mermaid” remake didn’t completely flounder with $569 million worldwide, it failed to achieve the the success that greeted prior live-action adaptations of Disney’s animated classics.

Bergman says he “couldn’t be happier that [Bailey] is staying on as a producer of ‘Tron: Ares.’”

“Sean has been an incredibly important member of the Studio’s creative team for well over a decade,” Bergman said. “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.”

Bailey added in a statement, “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.”

Greenbaum most recently served as president of Searchlight Pictures, where he jointly managed all aspects of the studio’s film and television output with Matthew Greenfield. Now, Greenfield will have sole oversight of Searchlight and continue to report to Bergman. As a 17-year veteran of the indie division once owned by 20th Century Fox, Greenbaum worked on “The Shape of Water,” “Nomadland,” “The Favourite” and “Black Swan.” Prior to Searchlight, he helped shepherd films like “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” as a development executive at Miramax Films.

“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,” said Greenbaum. “It’s an honor and responsibility I don’t take lightly.”

Amid the restructuring, Steve Asbell will report to Greenbaum and continue to serve as president of 20th Century Studios, a role he’s held since March 2020. He’s one of the creative forces behind “Avatar” and its 2023 sequel, as well as “Planet of the Apes” and “Alien.”

Among the titles on Disney’s live-action and 20th Century slate: “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” the sequel “Alien: Romulus,” and “The Lion King” spinoff “Mufasa.” The studio has remakes of “Snow White” starring Rachel Zegler, “Moana” and “Lilo & Stitch” in development.

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