Emma Watts, head of 20th Century Studios (formally 20th Century Fox), has resigned. Watts joined the studio in 1997 as creative executive, and stepped into the role of president of production in 2009.
Walt Disney Studios chairmen, Alan Bergman and Alan Horn, released a statement thanking Watts: “Emma has made many wonderful contributions to Fox over the past two decades, shepherding a number of memorable films to the screen. We truly appreciate and thank her for her commitment and partnership in overseeing the transition in this past year and wish her the best.”
Watts announced her resignation on Thursday, January 30th in an email to studio staff. In her email to staff, Watts said, “Over the past many months, it has been my top priority to continue to foster great filmmaking while leading this team successfully through the integration period with Disney. After reaching this point, I approached Alan and Alan, realizing that it was now time for me to pursue new opportunities.”
Since Disney’s March 2019 acquisition of the studio, staff have experienced several rounds of layoffs. Watts is known as being an executive who is “filmmaker-focused” and has worked on original films such as The Greatest Showman, Gone Girl, and Ford v. Ferrari, which has been nominated for four Academy Awards. Watts’ role had transformed since the Disney acquisition, and she appeared to be left with less of an avenue to pursue projects similar to those she had been drawn to in the past due to Disney’s focus on films that are rooted in intellectual property.
Filmmakers and stars alike are praising Watts. Steven Spielberg, in a released statement, had this to say about her, “Emma is a studio executive in title, but a filmmaker at heart…Her support and willingness to take risks is what this business has always thrived on. I can’t wait to see what Emma does next and I’ll work with her again on anything at any time.”
Ryan Reynolds, star of Deadpool, had this to say about Watts via a tweet: “Deadpool would never have happened without Emma Watts. And certainly wouldn’t have been as good. I hope to continue working with her wherever she decides to go.”
The Walt Disney Company recently renamed 20th Century Fox to 20th Century Studios, and Fox Searchlight Pictures to Searchlight Pictures.
Watts’ successor has not yet been named.
Source: Los Angeles Times