Longstanding Fox Filmed Entertainment CEO Thomas E Rothman resigned yesterday as news emerged of extensive reorganisation within Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Under pressure from regulators, the organisation will split into two publicly traded companies, with its beleaguered publishing arm separating from the film and television parts of the business. Though these will remain part of the same company, they will be separately run, and it is understood that this may be what prompted Rothman to leave, a decision which has come as a shock to staff.
Though Murdoch was keen to keep the company together, it is no secret that shareholders have been keen on a split for some time, seeing the risks attached to different parts of the business as difficult to reconcile. News Corp's newspapers face an uncertain market and have been hit hard by allegaions of phone and email hacking. The film side of the business, despite failing to meet expectatons over the last two quarters, has remained strong. Under Rothman it has seen its independent brand Fox Searchlight achieve growing success and has also scored big mainstream hits with Avatar and Titanic. James Cameron has stated his intention to make at least three Avatar sequels with the company and, despite a muted public response so far, these are expected to help secure its future.
Replacing Rothman at the helm is Jim Gianopulos, who has worked alongside him for the last 12 years. This is expected to ensure continuity within the brand, which will now be called 20th Century Fox Film. Rothman had worked closely with the TV side of the business on marketing and premiere plans, but again the risk issues differ between the two, wth television more predictable and consequently benefiting from a different management style.
Speaking of his pride in his achievements over the years, Rothman has said that he still believes in the Fox brand and expects it to continue producing hits. A passionate film fan, he is hotly tipped for another top job in the industry, with rumours circuklating that he will join Universal Studios.