Why Did Warner Bros. Oust Its Successful Film Chief?

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It might seem strange that the man who partly oversaw the enormous success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films and Man of Steel is being replaced at Time Warner Inc.’s (NYSE:TWX) Warner Bros. Studios. However, in a memo distributed by Chairman Barry Meyer and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Tsujihara, it was announced that Jeff Robinov is out as Warner Bros. film chief.

Robinov had held the position as film chief since 2007 and will be replaced by a team of three people composed of production president Greg Silverman, marketing chief Sue Kroll, and New Line chief  Toby Emmerich. Following the move, Silverman and Kroll were given new titles. Silverman will be the president of creative development and worldwide production while Kroll will be the president of worldwide marketing and international distribution.

Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution, will continue to report to Tsujihara while Veronika Kwan Vandenberg will continue to serve as president of international distribution. Vandenberg will likely take over domestic distribution after the planned retirement of Fellman.

The official announcement from Warner did not mention Robinov, and his name was only included in the internal memo. According to Variety, Robinov’s relationship with Tsujihara and Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes had been contentious following a two-year competition between Robinov, Tsujihara, and former Warner Bros. Television Group chief Bruce Rosenblum. Silverman, Kroll, Emmerich, Fellman, and Vandenberg all previously reported to Robinov.

It’s been reported that Robinov had a tense relationship with Legendary Entertainment, the co-producer of the Batman and Superman films, which might have been influential in the decision. Legendary is now in talks with various studios, including Warner Bros., to strike a new deal, and Legendary CEO Thomas Tull says the interest is enormous. Last week, Tull said he was talking to “everybody” in Hollywood.

Still, Tsujihara is confident in the studio. “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,” he wrote in the statement.

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