Magazine article Variety

Warners Shake-Up of Movie Ranks Continues as AT&T Merger Looms

Magazine article Variety

Warners Shake-Up of Movie Ranks Continues as AT&T Merger Looms

Article excerpt

THERE'S BEEN A whole lotta shakin' going on at Warner Bros. movie studio over the past month. This week, in a major management shift, Toby Emmerich was put in charge of all film operations with expanded duties, and the studio's veteran worldwide marketing and distribution chief Sue Kroll was moved out of her role into an exclusive production deal on the Burbank lot.

In early December, after the box office disappointment of "Justice League," Warners pushed out Jon Berg, the executive overseeing the studio's DC films (he's now producing partner with filmmaker Roy Lee), and a week ago promoted its New Line executive Walter Hamada to a new role shepherding the DC superhero pictures and other comic-book movies to the big screen.

The elevation of Emmerich to chairman of the pictures group is a long overdue move by Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara, who had been reluctant to take a step back from the hands-on role he has insisted on playing in the day-to-day operations of the film division.

In contrast, when Tsujihara's predecessor, Warners veteran Barry Meyer, was promoted to that job, he instantly tapped Alan Horn as president of the movie studio, which made sense, since Meyer had no experience on the film side and had a much bigger purview to worry about.

In theory, the move will give Emmerich more authority, empowering him to select the movies the studio makes, while freeing Tsujihara up to travel more and create more opportunities for the studio internationally. It also alleviates the power struggle between Kroll and Blair Rich, who will now serve as president of global theatrical and home entertainment marketing.

"This is the best organizational structure for Warner Bros.," said Tsujihara, noting that Emmerich's promotion means "you have one person accountable or responsible for putting the slate together."

In an interview with Variety, Tsujihara emphasized that he will continue to have a hand in the film division even as he spends more time on bigger-picture issues.

"I'm going to still be involved with Toby," said Tsujihara. "I'll just have less direct reports. The overall management of the company requires you to juggle a number of different balls in the air. ... This lets me focus on some of the things that we need to do strategically."

Tsujihara, who will be under scrutiny by Time Warner's would-be new corporate parent company AT&T, needs to focus on keeping his own job when (and if) the merger goes through. …

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