Walt Disney President Sean Bailey Exits, Searchlight’s David Greenbaum Takes Over

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.

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 producer Joachim Ronning’s Tron: Ares before moving onto more entrepreneurial endeavors. There was buzz that Bailey was going to takeover the top Netflix film job from Scott Stuber who is departing the streamer; that is not the case as we near it.

Greenbaum, who co-runs Searchlight with Matthew Greenfield, is in the midst of a host 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. With deep-working relationships with auteurs such as Lanthimos, Martin McDonagh, 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 franchise, Greenbaum has a keen sensibility when it comes to developing original, director-driven fare.

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.

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