Gelfan kept a low profile, but wielded a great deal of power. He was a top lieutenant of studio chief Jim Gianopulos, and was deeply engaged in overseeing the business side of the studio. A lawyer by training, he joined Fox in 1994, having previously worked at Paramount. He was hired by former Fox chairman Peter Chernin and former Fox president Bill Mechanic.
At Fox, he was immersed in deal-making, litigation and human resource matters, and was prized for his negotiating skills. He was not involved in the creative side of the business.
The studio has not decided on a replacement for Gelfan, but a search is expected to take place.
Fox is having a strong year at the box office. The studio is second in domestic market share, and has scored with the likes of “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Deadpool” and “The Revenant.”
There have been some major changes in recent months. In a cost cutting measure, between 300 and 400 employees in 21st Century Fox’s film and television divisions accepted buyout offers last month. Executives who opted to take the deal included consumer products chief Jeffrey Godsick and Fox Searchlight production chief Claudia Lewis.