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Exclusive: Emily Blunt in Talks to Join Dwayne Johnson in Benny Safdie’s 'The Smashing Machine'

Plus, Sean Bailey exits Disney, my final pleas to Oscar voters, and Hot Costner Summer!

It was a dreary Monday here in Hollywood, for those of you reading from afar… and yet another day in the insane asylum that is showbiz, as Denis Villeneuve decided to promote Dune: Part Two by revealing how he hates dialogue and how no one remembers movies because of their lines — an asinine comment I won’t even dignify with a response.

Meanwhile, it was a big day in the land of Disney, where loyal soldier Sean Bailey said goodbye after 15 years on the lot. I received the tip shortly before Deadline broke the news, with a source telling me what the studio later confirmed — that Searchlight’s David Greenbaum would be taking over Disney’s live-action division.

But what remains a mystery is the circumstances surrounding Bailey’s exit. Based on what I’ve heard and reported, it seems pretty clear that Bailey was talking to Netflix about replacing Scott Stuber, and for about 30 minutes today, I thought Bailey might have leveraged that offer into a promotion at Disney, but that didn’t happen, and every single media report today seemed to go out of its way to emphasize that Bailey is not going to Netflix.

The question is, why? It’s not like Bailey received a golden parachute from Disney, as the studio didn’t announce a first-look or overall deal with Bailey as a producer — and it’s a tough time to be a producer. Bailey will, however, stay on Disney’s Tron: Ares as a producer, bringing his career at the studio full circle since he was brought on as an exec in the wake of producing Tron: Legacy.

Humor me for a second, but is it at least possible that Bailey has a non-compete clause that prevents him from taking the Netflix offer for a certain period, or perhaps a personal agreement with Bob Iger not to take the Netflix job until after Disney’s proxy fight with Nelson Peltz on April 3?

Does Bailey need a break from the studio exec life, or are there other places he might be a fit? After all, he’s well-liked and has fantastic relationships with top talent. His track record at Disney may have been a mixed bag, but he was simply serving a mandate over there, and I suspect his creative instincts point in other directions.

Miramax just hired Jonathan Glickman, and if Bailey truly isn’t going to Netflix, he immediately becomes one of the most attractive free agents out there. The question is who needs him, especially during a time of contraction and industry-wide budget cuts?

He’d be a strong #2 somewhere, but then again, how many studio heads are going to hire an exec who’s a constant threat to take over their position?

Producing may be the right move for right now, but we’ll see how long Bailey can resist corporate culture, having just spent the past decade-plus at Disney. One thing is clear — he has plenty of options.

On the flip side of this announcement, kudos to Greenbaum, who earned this opportunity via his stewardship of Searchlight, and hopefully, he’ll tweak Disney’s live-action strategy just a bit, as there are only so many animated classics to revamp. Greenbaum will also oversee 20th Century Studios, where Steve Asbell remains President, while Matthew Greenfield now runs Searchlight Pictures on his own as President.

As a result of today’s Disney shakeup, I’m told that Asbell is now reporting to Greenbaum rather than Disney co-chairman Alan Bergman — a move that could signal that 20th Century Studios is going to be folded into Disney live-action down the line. That would make sense, as the live-action division’s new mandate is to make original movies, and not only does Greenbaum have great filmmaker relationships, but he’s used to making movies for far less than Sean Bailey did. Indeed, I agree with an anonymous Deadline commenter who wrote that Greenbaum’s hiring “Signals a shift away from big-budget franchise movies to mid-budget standalone movies.”

One insider believes that, much like WB is eager to bring Christopher Nolan back into the fold, Disney/20th Century is eager to be back in the Guillermo del Toro business, having watched as del Toro’s Pinocchio won an Oscar for Netflix, where he’s now directing Frankenstein — two projects I bet the Mouse House would’ve loved to have had. Don’t be surprised if Greenbaum goes after his old pal now that he’s running live-action for Disney.

I wish Greenbaum the best of luck in his new gig, and I hope that Bailey finds happiness wherever he lands.

As for the rest of tonight’s newsletter, you’ll read about Emily Blunt, Dwayne Johnson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Charles Melton, Cailee Spaeny, Shane Gillis, Diego Boneta, Bill Murray, Naomi Watts, and Kevin Costner.

Paid subscribers can enter the Sneider-Verse to read more… or listen, as I recorded myself reading this entire newsletter. It’s 23 minutes long, so think of it as a mini-episode of The Hot Mic, which returns tomorrow morning. See ya then!

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