Studio Executive Shake-Ups: Dan Lin Appointed Netflix Film Chief, Sean Bailey Exits Disney

There have been two major executive shake-ups this week in Hollywood, with Dan Lin joining Netflix as film chief, and Sean Bailey leaving Disney.

It’s been an interesting week at the top of Hollywood executive floors, with two major announcements being made. Dan Lin will be overseeing Netflix’s film division, while the long-time head of Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios. Let’s break it down from the beginning.

Scott Stuber’s Exit From Netflix and Hollywood’s Most Coveted Job Recently

It was announced in late January that Scott Stuber, who was hired in 2017 to oversee Netflix’s film department, would be leaving his job at the company to start his own endeavor. The exit was a bit abrupt, though Stuber’s merits were immediately recognized by the media, with him being the guy who essentially put the former DVD mailer on the map in terms of film production.

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His shoes would be big to fill, and the leadership at the company began an industry-wide search for the next film chief. Several names were thrown around by the press as potential candidates, people like Emma Watts (former president of the Paramount motion picture group), Toby Emmerich (former WB chairman), or Dan Lin, a prolific producer who was already in contention for another big job in town as head of DC Studios, back in the summer of 2022.

But there was one name that emerged from the crowd. First reported by, and later brought up recurringly in various Hollywood outlets as a solid rumor, Sean Bailey engaged in talks with Ted Sarandos (co-CEO), Bela Bajaria (chief content officer), and other people at the streaming giant as a potential candidate. Bailey had been working for Disney for 13 years as the head of the Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios, the live-action division at the Bob Iger-run company. He was one of the architects behind the push to remake the animated catalog.

Screenshot of Penelope looking out a window from season 3 Bridgerton
Bridgerton. Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 302 of Bridgerton. Cr. Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix © 2023

Matt Belloni also weighed in on this topic in his newsletter on Thursday, adding that it was only one meeting between Bajaria and Bailey, and neither party came out swinging from it. Then, we got word earlier this week that Bailey was no longer in contention for the job.

Sean Bailey Exited as Head of Disney Studios

Deadline reported on Monday, shortly before the company officially made the announcement, that Bailey was exiting Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios effective immediately. Though this seemed like perfect timing for him to announce a move over to Netflix, the report did mention that Bailey’s talks with Netflix were discontinued.

Walt Disney Studios, and Netflix

It’s unclear what the future holds for Bailey at this point, but there is no shortage of relationships he’s forged over the years at Disney that he can now use in his favor. Bailey was a creative before he got an executive office, and in fact, worked with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in his early days. With the two launching Artists Equity in recent years as a way to fairly compensate the people who make the movies, it’s possible Bailey will go out and hang out with his friends. Or he may just start his own thing like most people do (including Stuber).

Bailey remains a producer on the now-in-production Tron: Ares, which represents a full-circle moment for him: He first got on Disney’s doorstep as a producer on Tron: Legacy. Some speculation here, but he was probably one of the architects behind the threequel, which otherwise had no financial reason for existing (the previous entry underperformed and there is no evidence that the Tron IP is well-known among younger audiences).

As far as Bailey’s former job, David Greenbaum from Searchlight Studios will be taking over, as his partner in crime at the indie division, Matthew Greenfield, keeps his current title. Greenbaum will also take over 20th Century Studios. According to Jeff Sneider via his newsletter, Greenbaum’s directions for Disney Studios are to develop new IP, and focus on re-treading library titles from the 20th Century, like they’re doing with Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, Alien: Romulus, and so on.

Dan Lin Steps In as Netflix Film Chief

So Sean Bailey is not going to Netflix. Who is, then? It’s apparently prolific producer Dan Lin, one of the names thrown around as a potential candidate before Bailey. Lin’s name may also be familiar to some of our readers as he was the first reported candidate to head DC after David Zaslav took over Warner Bros. Discovery and promised to revitalize the franchise.

Lin has worked everywhere in Hollywood for the past couple of decades as head of his production company Rideback, and its associated non-profit, Rideback Rise. They’ve been behind movies like Disney’s Aladdin, The LEGO Movie, The LEGO Batman Movie, the It movies, and most recently, Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. He will now be departing Rideback.

As part of the new job, for which he’ll apparently be competing in the same $18-$20M salary that Stuber had (one of the highest-paid executive positions in Hollywood), he will be reporting directly to chief content officer Bela Bajaria and will have to figure out a film slate and a long-term plan for the platform. Also, figuring out a way to get that coveted Best Picture Oscar would be fantastic.

Dan Lin will be starting in his new position on April 1, a few weeks after the Oscars, where Netflix is not likely to win more than a couple of small-time statues.

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What do you think about these executive shake-ups at Netflix and Disney, and what do you think they mean for their respective companies? Do you have any ideas for where Sean Bailey will go next? Let us know your thoughts on our Twitter or our Discord server!

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