Disney Names Tony Chambers as Head of Theatrical Distribution (EXCLUSIVE)

Rebecca Rubin
·2-min read

Disney has promoted Tony Chambers to executive vice president of theatrical distribution.

He replaces Cathleen Taff, who served as head of global film distribution since 2018. Taff remains with Disney’s content group as president of production services, franchise management and multicultural engagement.

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Chambers’ hire comes months after the company announced a structural reorganization that puts a greater emphasis on streaming. In this new order, budget and distribution decisions were moved under the Media and Entertainment Distribution group led by Kareem Daniel.

Chambers will report to Justin Connolly, the president of platform distribution. Connolly reports to Daniel.

Given the reorg, Chambers’ duties differ slightly from Taff’s. In his role, he is responsible for leading and integrating domestic and international distribution across theatrical and home entertainment for all films produced and released by Disney. The studio’s expansive umbrella includes Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Pixar Animation Studio, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, Blue Sky Studios and Searchlight Pictures.

Disney’s restructuring shakes up how films are traditionally deployed at Hollywood studios. The content division’s main focus is creating new product, while the distribution side figures out the best way to unveil it — whether that’s releasing it on the big screen, or putting it on Disney Plus or Hulu.

All the while, the pandemic has upended the movie business and left many cinemas struggling to stay in business. In the wake of coronavirus, Disney has made several unexpected moves that include sending “Mulan” and Pixar’s “Soul” to Disney Plus. Yet the legacy theatrical business remains a priority for Disney, which has all but dominated the box office in recent years. In 2019 alone, the studio’s films racked up more than $11 billion in global ticket sales.

Chambers has been at Disney for more than two decades, most recently serving as senior VP of studio distribution, and country manager in the United Kingdom and Ireland. He’s currently based in the U.K. and it’s unclear if he will relocate to Los Angeles with his new title.

As senior VP of studio distribution, Chambers was responsible for leading distribution efforts across theatrical and home entertainment. He joined the company in 1995 and held various positions, including head of studio sales and distribution for the Middle East, Europe and Africa, as well as general manager of emerging markets, where he led operations in the Middle East, Israel, Africa, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.

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