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Tom Rothman resigns as the head of 20th Century Fox

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Caffeinated Clint
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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

Twentieth Century Fox loses it’s renowned chief today, Tom Rothman.

Rothman, who has shepherded such blockbuster franchises as the “Night at the Museum” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks” series, as well as recent efforts in the “Die Hard” series, has announced that he’ll be resigning from his post effective January.

Rothman, 57, was the chief of the studio for 18 years. Jim Gianopulos, currently Rothman’s partner at the studio, will take over for the departing CEO.

Interestingly, it was Gianopulos who championed James Cameron blockbusters “Avatar” and “Titanic”, while Rothman wasn’t that keen. Rothman, now a big champion for superhero movies, was also the guy that wasn’t so keen on bringing “X-Men” to cinemas, a film that would later became quite the cash-cow for the studio.

Rothman’s resignation letter was forwarded on to us; it reads :

My Dear Friends,

I have decided that, after more than 18 years — the bulk of my adult working life — I am resigning as Chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, effective January 1, 2013. During my time at Fox, thanks to you, we have together accomplished more than I ever imagined possible, from the founding and nurturing of Searchlight, to overseeing the two biggest films in box office history, to consistently ranking at the top among studio profitability year in and year out (including our most recent strong fiscal year), and, most of all, making dozens of exceptional films that I believe will stand the test of time. I’m proud as hell of that run. But I’ve done the same thing, at the same place, for a long time (indeed, in the 75 year history of our studio, no one has supervised movies for longer except Darryl Zanuck himself). I do need some new challenges and to write a new chapter.

I love Fox and all of you and take comfort knowing that, although there is never a perfect time to leave, because the slate for the next several years is in awesome shape, this is at least a pretty good one. I know that Jim G. and all of you will continue our long tradition of winning ways, and I will be rooting hard for you. I will also be around until the end of the year to help with the transition and celebrate some of the hits we are about to have.

Finally, let me say, how eternally grateful I will always be for the privilege and the honor of having had this job, and above all else, working with you all — quite simply, the best, most talented, and the kindest colleagues in the world. If I can leave you with one thought, it’s this: for all these years, I have tried to do the job with, above all else, integrity. I think our company stands for doing what is right, even if that is not always easy, and for prizing honesty and forthrightness. I hope that you will carry that mission forward. As for me, a bunch of you guys know what the tattoo on my ankle says. It’s what I wish for us all: “Excelsior”!

With Love and Gratitude,

Tom

Some say it’s Rothman’s inability to spot a hit (he also passed on “Ted”, which became a big success for Universal), and quite a few flops of late – like “Abraham Lincoln : Vampire Hunter” and “The Watch” – under his charge, that may have pushed him to resign.

Rothman also wasn’t keen on Fox’s recent decision to distribute Dreamworks Animation releases (and it’s head, Jeffrey Katzenberg, apparently wasn’t so keen to work with him), despite “Ice Age 4″ being one of Fox’s only true successes this Summer.

Some sources say Rothman has been eyeing off the top job at Universal, which angered Fox employees, and pushed him to jump ship.

Will Fox recover from Rothman’s exit? I think so – very easily. Look, as unpopular and pompous as many saw Rothman, he also did a lot of good. He revived some franchises that were welcomed with open arms by the community, he pushed comic book movies, and he’s given us some terrific movies in recent times – like “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, “X-Men : First Class” and, of course, the Oscar Winning epic “Titanic”.

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