Continuing his steady rise through the 20th Century Fox executive ranks, Jorge Saralegui has been upped to executive VP of production at the studio.

Saralegui, a former novelist who began his career at Fox as a reader eight years ago, has worked as senior VP of production since June 1995. At that time, he inked a three-year contract with the studio after having been hotly pursued by several other studios and production companies. The new promotion comes under Saralegui’s existing contract, which expires early next year.

“Jorge is a simply terrific executive, an excellent developer with superior judgment in material and talent,” said Fox production prexy Tom Rothman, announcing the promotion. “I am really pleased to recognize his many contributions and his continued importance to the success of our team.”

Beginning with the 1994 hit actioner “Speed,” which he brought to the studio and subsequently helped develop and supervise, Saralegui has made a name for himself by shepherding through development and production such projects as “Independence Day,” “Broken Arrow” and “Die Hard With a Vengeance.”

“The job is a lot easier when you get to work with such incredible talent,” said Saralegui. “I’ve had a priceless education with some of the best filmmakers in the world, and am very grateful to Fox for having given me this opportunity.”

Saralegui currently is overseeing the production of “Speed 2: Cruise Control,” starring Sandra Bullock and Jason Patric under Jan De Bont’s helm; “Alien: Resurrection,” starring Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder and helmed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet from Joss Whedon’s script; and “Great Expectations,” starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke and Anne Bancroft for helmer Alfonso Cuaron.

Before Fox, Saralegui published three novels, then worked for a brief stint as a story analyst for IndieProd Co. He joined Fox in 1989 as a reader and was upped to creative exec and then director of production before being named VP of production in 1993.