Monday, May 27, 2024

Here’s Your Hat: Searchlight Presidents, on Verge of Winning “Nomadland” Oscar this Sunday, Retired by Disney


Wpw. Hollywood is a tough town.

On the eve of winning another Best Picture Oscar, Searchlight Chairmen Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula have been retired by Disney. The Mouse House couldn’t even wait until after “Nomadland” won on Sunday. Ouch!

The pair who have been there for 20 years (when it was Fox Searchlight) will be replaced by nice guys, younger guys, Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum, the studio’s chiefs of production. Greenbaum was trained at Miramax.

Founded in 1994 at 20th Century Fox to battle Miramax, Fox Searchlight Pictures’s titles have grossed over $5 billion worldwide, amassing 28 Golden Globe Awards, 49 BAFTA awards, and 40 Academy Awards including four Best Picture winners since 2009: Slumdog Millionaire, 12 Years a Slave, Birdman, and The Shape of Water. They’ve picked up 28 Golden Globe Awards, 49 BAFTA awards, and 40 other Academy Awards. Think of Little Miss Sunshine, Three Billboards, and on and on.

It’s pretty ugly that Disney didn’t wait til next week. But that’s the business. It’s not for wusses. If “Nomadland” wins a combo of picture, director, actress, Utley and Gilula will go out on top. It’s a probably a relief for them, not having to deal with Disney.

The whole Searchlight-Disney thing is ironic anyway. Fox Searchlight was created to compete with Miramax, which was then owned by Disney. Eventually Disney and Miramax fell out, they sold Miramax, bought 20th Century Fox and garnered Searchlight.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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