Breaking News: We just got word of a spate of major promotions at Twentieth Century Fox today, just a week after the studio was rocked last week by the departure of Fox Animation chief Chris Meledandri.
Longtime comedy expert and Fox executive Debbie Liebling will be running Fox Atomic - a division that's gotten off to a rocky start after "Revenge of the Nerds" imploded last November, leaving it with only a tepid slasher movie -- 'Turistas' as its opener. It's about time - that label was in danger of becoming a joke.
"The animation division, which Meledandri just exited in favor of setting up a similar division at Universal Pictures, will be helmed by 12-year Fox production veteran Vanessa Morrison...Other promotions include upping Emma Watts and Alex Young to co-presidents of production of 20th Century Fox. Brian Keane will be promoted to chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Blue Sky Studios. Bruce Anderson, who is currently serving as an associate producer on Fox Animation's "Horton Hears a Who," will retain his duties on the film and become General Manager of Blue Sky."
Our best guess at what happened?
Animation was a big reason for Fox's success last year, with the "Ice Age" sequel grossing $644 million; but when word came down that relatively low-profile 12-year Fox production veteran like Morrisson ould take Meledandi's place, no doubt the rest of the exec ranks demanded a little sugar, too: After all, Fox earned roughly $3.5 billion worth of movie tickets last year -- the biggest worldwide box-office gross for a film slate in the history of the movie business. Chickens were clearly coming home to roost.