Disney and Chernin Entertainment Parting Ways (EXCLUSIVE)

Disney and Peter Chernin are ending Chernin Entertainment’s long-standing film production deal with 20th Century Fox (recently rebranded to 20th Century Studios), Variety has learned.

The split was a mutual and amicable one, driven by the simple fact that Disney rarely brings on third party partners to finance its feature films.

“I have nothing but praise for Disney,” Chernin told Variety. “They were gracious, classy and paved the way for me to continue to build the company however we want.”

Chernin Entertainment will retain 70 of the 80-plus movie projects that it had in development at 20th. The projects remaining at Disney — like a new “Planet of the Apes” film with director Wes Ball (“The Maze Runner”) — are based on Disney-held intellectual property, and Chernin will remain attached as an executive producer.

One unresolved question is what will happen to the trilogy of films based on R.L. Stine’s “Fear Street” book series, which wrapped production last year with Gillian Jacobs and director Leigh Janiak.

After Chernin stepped down as the president of Fox’s then-parent company News Corp. in 2009, he launched Chernin Entertainment as a film production company with 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” That was the first of several hit films that Chernin produced for Fox in the previous decade, including “Hidden Figures,” “The Greatest Showman,” and recent best picture nominee “Ford v Ferrari.” All told, Chernin made 24 movies over eight years, almost all of them at Fox.

Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox last March, however, changed the landscape for film production at 20th, especially after the division’s film slate in 2019 dramatically underperformed, posting a $170 million loss in Disney’s fiscal third quarter. That caused Disney to cancel the majority of then-Fox’s film development slate and refocus production on established franchises.

Chernin Entertainment’s most recent films have been financial disappointments. The Kristen Stewart thriller “Underwater,” debuted with a limp $7 million domestic opening weekend, and the animated comedy “Spies in Disguise” — which Disney pushed from a September release to the highly competitive Christmas holiday — has grossed a less-than-stellar $116.7 million to date.

In 2015, Chernin moved his TV production arm from 20th Century Fox Television to NBCUniversal, then signed a scripted drama pact with Endeavor Content in 2017.

Kate Aurthur contributed to this report.

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