EXCLUSIVE: WARNER BROS SHAKE-UP: Jeff Robinov Quitting Movie Studio After No New Contract Offered And New Boss and Ex-Pal Kevin Tsujihara’s War Of Silence
(June 24, 2013 – Burbank, CA) Warner Bros. Entertainment today announced a new leadership team to run Warner Bros. Pictures Group, capitalizing on the proven strengths of a number of longtime Studio executives. Sue Kroll will now serve as President, Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures; Greg Silverman will now serve as President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production, Warner Bros. Pictures; and Toby Emmerich will continue as President and COO, New Line Cinema, while adding responsibility for Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures. The announcement was made today by Kevin Tsujihara, CEO, Warner Bros., to whom all three executives will report.
Working closely with the management team, Dan Fellman, whose contract has been extended, will continue in his role as President, Domestic Distribution, reporting directly to Tsujihara. Veronika Kwan Vandenberg will continue as President, International Distribution, and ultimately assume responsibility for worldwide distribution, taking on the domestic distribution function upon the planned retirement of Fellman. Kwan Vandenberg will report to Kroll who, in addition to her marketing and distribution responsibilities, will continue to be involved in all aspects of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and New Line Cinema’s releases.
“Warner Bros. is the world’s preeminent motion picture studio with one of the most talented executive benches in the industry,” said Tsujihara. “Collectively, this team has more than 100 years at the company and broad experience across the film business, which will ensure that Warner Bros. Pictures continues as a respected leader in production, marketing and global distribution. I have every confidence that we will continue to deliver the industry’s most compelling, popular and successful movies.”
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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 »
Baz Luhrmann followed up his biggest opening day in America with his biggest opening day in France as The Great Gatsby took in $78K in partial-day results that still were bigger than his Moulin Rouge and Australia. Understandably in a party mood thanks to the overperformance of his U.S. box office last weekend, the director pronounced himself pleased with one of the most elaborate after-parties which Cannes has seen since Moulin Rouge premiered here in 2001. Warner Bros co-hosted the gala event with Gatsby‘s other key financier, Village Roadshow. “I love it. I think Jay Gatsby would have loved it too. ‘Screw the rain,’ he would have said,” Luhrmann laughed.
The Cannes celebration of its opening-night film continued into the early morning hours despite a monsoon-like downpour. When I left around 2 AM, though, the party showed no sign of winding down. Luhrmann was frequently out on the dance floor whooping it up with the likes of Warner Bros worldwide marketing czarina Sue Kroll (“When you open the festival, you have to spend a good amount of money on the party,” Kroll told me), his co-star Isla Fisher, and his WME agent Robert Newman. Also there was the festival guru Thierry Fremaux, who told me that the first film he ever programmed when he first snagged the prestigious Cannes gig was Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge.
Luhrmann said he was now really optimistic about the global … Read More »
UPDATE: A big meeting went down today inside Warner Bros theatrical marketing where staff learned their fates with “the blending” of domestic and international marketing. (Needless to say, people were throwing stares at the Glass Building where marketing and distribution are housed.) Sources tell me, “There were some promotions and some reshuffling but no layoffs whatsoever. We’re expecting to make announcements next week on those promoted. But we haven’t even started writing the press releases yet.” The moves made today are by worldwide marketing czarina Sue Kroll as she handpicks her staff after her boss, Warner Bros Pictures Group prez Jeff Robinov, squeezed out Dawn Taubin.
The biggest news is that Blair Rich is promoted to EVP of worldwide marketing. (She just got upped last year to SVP of international marketing, so this is a huge boost. She started as Sue Kroll’s assistant and is said to be popular with filmmakers but not vendors. She’s also the daughter of legendary Hollywood TV producer Lee Rich, whose Lorimar was purchased by Warner’s.) Gene Garlock upped to SVP for worldwide promotions. (He gets additional domestic duties from previous post as SVP for international promotions). Julie Goodwin will co-head worldwide publicity with Lance Volland (who previously oversaw international publicity). This all follows Debi Miller’s departure for CBS’s new film division after serving as EVP of domestic theatrical marketing. (She was unhappy for the past six months…) But this blending is just the beginning because it doesn’t include the eventual integration of New … Read More »