FRIDAY 5 AM, 2ND UPDATE: I’ve learned that Jeff Robinov’s attorney Skip Brittenham officially notified Warner Bros on Thursday that it is in breach of the movie mogul’s contract, and he wants to negotiate his exit.
THURSDAY 6 PM UPDATED THROUGHOUT… EXCLUSIVE 2:45 PM: The destabilization of once rock-solid Warner Bros continues. I’ve learned that Jeff Robinov has decided to leave as Warner Brothers Pictures Group President after months of waiting in vain for Time Warner Jeff Bewkes and Warner Bros Chairman Kevin Tsujihara to offer him a new contract when his expires in December. Robinov is on vacation in New Mexico and this week enlisted both his attorney Skip Brittenham and his friend and former Warner Bros chairman Bob Daly to negotiate his exit. Robinov’s frustration follows Bewkes and Tsujihara placing him inside the ‘cone of silence’ in recent weeks ever since the home entertainment chief was appointed as the new Warner Bros CEO and soon to be chairman. No phone calls of congratulations came from Bewkes or Tsujihara to Robinov after last weekend’s record-setting global successful opening of Man Of Steel or any of the studio’s Summer 2013 big worldwide releases, The Great Gatsby and The Hangover Part III.
[EXCLUSIVE below: Ben Affleck and Baz Luhrmann reflect on their relationships with Robinov while Christopher Nolan's is detailed.]
Witnesses tell me that on the LA to NY plane trip to the Superman premiere June 10th, Tsujihara sat for the five hours not saying a word to Robinov who was sitting opposite him. This cruel behavior was in full view of not only Robinov’s execs but also of the Man Of Steel filmmakers like Christopher Nolan whom Robinov had brought to the studio. I’m told that at the Red Carpet gala at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, which should have been his triumph, Robinov left demoralized after just 15 minutes. This, after he and Tsujihara used to be close friends who went on family vacations together. “I’m constantly being marginalized. My job is shrinking day-to-day,” Robinov confided to a pal the other day. “Kevin is starting to push me out by both the things he’s doing and the responsibilities he’s assuming. It’ll end up with everyone reporting to him. The result is that people at the studio are wondering how they can benefit from this or how they can not get hurt by this. Sitting around is not something I can do, or, by the end of the year, the studio will be in a massive mess.”
I’ve learned that the structure being contemplated for Warner Bros Pictures is not for any one person to replace Robinov, who was a rarity in recent Hollywood in that he did both the business and creative top job at a studio. Instead, his Warner Bros Pictures executives Sue Kroll, President of Worldwide Marketing; Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution; and Greg Silverman, President of Production, would run the studio as a triumvirate under Tsujihara who will take over the business side even though he has no such movie experience. Read More »
It was Warner Bros Pictures’ turn for studio slate presentations at the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas Tuesday and President of the Warner Bros Pictures Group Jeff Robinov unveiled the studio’s packed summer lineup with its familiar mix of comedy, horror, superheroes, monsters, and sequels. Robinov looked to the future and thanked all the studio’s partners: New Line, Legendary, Village Roadshow, Alcon, and MGM (on the Hobbit trilogy). He also thanked his new boss Kevin Tsujihara who won the job of Chief Executive Officer replacing Barry Meyer. ”All of us share his vision and this will be an exciting time under his leadership,” Robinov said. Distribution head Dan Fellman initiated a bunch of baseball analogies after the success of Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros’ Jackie Robinson biopic 42 last weekend. It followed a string of 5 straight box office disappointments for Warner Bros and occasional other partners (like New Line). ”Consistency has always been a hallmark of Warner Bros Pictures. But even the most consistent player can hit a few fouls,” Fellman told exhibitors. Fellman emphasized that Warner Bros is the only studio to score $1 billion box office gross domestically 12 years in a row. And International Distrib topper Veronika Kwan Vandenberg pointed out that the studio in 2012 grossed over $4 billion worldwide thanks to hits like The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Add to that the 85th Oscar-winning Best Picture success of Argo. Plus, this year Warners Bros is celebrating the 90th anniversary of its founding by the Brothers Warner in 1923.
The season starts out May 10th with the 3D drama from Baz Luhrmann, The Great Gatsby, originally intended for the 2012 awards season but held for Summer 2013 instead. Luhrmann is still tweaking the movie which will open the Cannes Film Festival on May 15th, but sent along a pre-taped introduction – complete with music underscoring to the film’s trailer. Footage was shown at last year’s CinemaCon but this was much different and in 3D. No question it looks like another visual triumph for the director of Moulin Rouge and Romeo And Juliet which starred his Gatsby lead Leonardo Di Caprio. Luhrmann said he was inspired to use 3D when he saw a 3D screening of the Alfred Hitchcock 1950s drama Dial M For Murder (also released by Warners). Even though he said the most special effect in this movie is the acting.
Director Todd Phillips publicly chided Luhrmann before introducing The Hangover Part III trailer. “It would be nice if Baz showed up. There are a lot of directors backstage. We showed up,” he said. Phillips then fed the exhibitors’ egos by saying that comedies should be seen in theaters where everyone can laugh together. Warner’s is now referring to his sleeper smash as the Hangover Trilogy.
Next was Zack Snyder, director of Man Of Steel, who turned up with the world premiere of the film’s new trailer which will play before Oblivion starting on Friday. “There’s no competition between superheroes obviously. But if there were, he would win,” said the unabashed fan of the comic book hero. “I am sorry to even have to say this now but we shot the movie on film and anamorphic. We wanted to give your cinemas a big giant movie movie.” He also acknowledged producer Christopher Nolan’s help during their first meeting in steering him in the right direction on the film. Nolan and his co-producers Emma Thomas and Chuck Roven were in the audience but oddly not introduced to the crowd. The trailer played well and Nolan seemed pleased with the reaction when I saw him afterwards. Read More »
Only about 4.5% of the 10,000 or so domestic screens that will show New Line and MGM’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on December 14 will present it the way director Peter Jackson wants — at 48 frames per second instead of the conventional 24 frames. But Warner Bros Domestic Distribution President Dan Fellman tells me that this reflects a cautious rollout strategy, not a failure to win support from exhibition execs. Even now, “equipment is being tested” and some glitches have been corrected, he says. “So we did the right thing” by limiting the rollout to anywhere from 400 to 450 screens covering most major cities. “This is a technology that is going to change the way people see movies…You have to do it right.”
Warner Bros seemed to have bigger ambitions for the visually vivid 3D projection technology — which the studio’s calling “HFR” (for High Frame Rate) — at the exhibition industry’s CinemaCon trade confab in April. That effort hit a huge PR speed bump when several viewers said that they were unmoved by a 10-minute excerpt of the film in 48 fps. Carmike Cinemas’ Terrel Mayton said at the time that HFR “has to be a kick-the-picture-out (advancement) or it just becomes one of a long line of technology advances that’s here for a while and then move into oblivion.” Theater owners have to pay about $5,000 for a projector to handle HFR — first-generation digital ones can’t be upgraded. More recent projectors only require a software upgrade which can run $1,500. It can cost as much as $20,000 to make the change at an IMAX venue. Theaters also have to shell out more to store HFR prints than they do for conventional 24 fps digital films. Read More »
I already reported this, but here’s the official Warner Bros announcement:
BURBANK, CA – July 26, 2010 – On Sunday, July 25th, Warner Bros. Studios became the only studio in history to surpass $1 billion at the domestic box office for ten years in a row. In addition, the division has crossed the billion-dollar threshold for eleven of the past twelve years. The announcement was made by Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. Pictures President of Domestic Distribution.
The studio passed the billion-dollar mark on the heels of the blockbuster success of Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” which has topped the weekend box office in its first two weeks in release and has taken in $142.9 million to date. Beginning the year, Warner Bros. was still enjoying the success of Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes,” which had just opened on Christmas Day 2009. The studio also scored hits with Alcon Entertainment’s action adventure “The Book of Eli”; New Line Pictures’ ensemble romantic comedy “Valentine’s Day,” directed by Garry Marshall; the epic action adventure “Clash of the Titans”; and “Sex and the City 2,” New Line’s follow up to its 2008 hit based on the enormously popular television show.
In making the announcement, Fellman said, “This is an extraordinary milestone for our studio, and it reflects the enormous talent and dedication of a large roster of people, both on and off the screen. We are very proud of what we have achieved, not only this year, but
… Read More »