Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman Tom Rothman, who has led the News Corp.-owned studio together with partner Jim Gianopulos since 2000, is leaving his post on Jan. 1.
The unexpected move ends long and largely successful run atop the studio for Rothman, who first came to Fox in 1994 when he founded the specialty label Fox Searchlight Pictures.
He previously worked as president of the independent studio Samuel Goldwyn Pictures.
With Rothman's exit, Gianopulos will become the sole chairman of Fox, the studio behind "Avatar," "Ice Age," and "Prometheus."
(Update, 8:00 p.m.: For more on Rothman's departure, see this follow-up.)
Below is a letter that Rothman sent to Fox employees Friday afternoon:
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.