In recognition of the blurring of windows, Ron Sanders, Warner Bros.’ home entertainment chief, has been upped to president of worldwide distribution for the entire motion picture group as part of a broader studio restructuring.
“I’m very excited to be able to oversee the distribution of our films from initial release in theaters through home entertainment,” Sanders told Media Play News. “The structure really just formalizes how we’ve all been operating between the divisions as separate collaborative units.
“This new combined organization will help us focus on the movie consumer, and create the best experiences to interact with our content through its life cycle.”
Under the restructuring, Sanders becomes president of worldwide distribution of the Warner Picture Group while remaining president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Toby Emmerich will serve as chairman of the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, with full oversight of worldwide theatrical production, marketing and distribution.
And Blair Rich will head global theatrical and home entertainment marketing as president of worldwide marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures Group and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
A Warner Bros. press release said the aim of the restructuring is to enhance the studio’s “competitiveness in the global marketplace.”
As part of this reorganization, Sue Kroll, who previously served as president, Worldwide Marketing and Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures, will become a studio-based producer at Warner Bros. with responsibility on a broad portfolio of films, including A Star is Born and Motherless Brooklyn, with additional titles to be announced shortly.
“All of our businesses, including film and home entertainment, continue to rapidly evolve based on consumer tastes and technology, and we need to constantly adapt our operations to stay ahead of these changes, while preserving our creative excellence,” said Kevin Tsujihara, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros.
“Bringing together film and home entertainment marketing and distribution will allow us to strategically manage film titles through their entire life cycle. We’ll be better able to respond to consumer demand, while still creating unique theatrical and home entertainment experiences, and provide increased benefits to our filmmaking, exhibition and retail partners. We’re fortunate that we have a deep bench of highly talented executives to help us navigate these changes.”
Sanders will assume oversight of the teams responsible for all matters relating to global film distribution and release functions. He will also retain his responsibilities as president, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
“Now more than ever, we need to be responsive to consumers’ changing moviegoing habits, and we’re looking to Ron to help us maximize the value of our film titles across their entire release, from theatrical to in-home and mobile,” said Tsujihara. “I’m excited for him to bring his expertise, experience and global relationships to our worldwide film distribution operations.”
Under Sanders’ leadership, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment consistently holds the top market share. Sanders oversees the global distribution of home entertainment products from Warner Bros. Pictures Group, Warner Bros. Television Group and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. He is also responsible for the studio’s video game publishing business, and helped build WBHE into the industry’s largest digital distributor of films and TV shows through VOD and EST.
In her new role, Rich will lead the development and execution of all marketing campaigns for both the Studio’s global theatrical and home entertainment releases. She has oversight of Warner Bros. Pictures’ worldwide creative advertising, publicity, media, global digital, global promotions and worldwide research groups. She will also oversee the home entertainment marketing operation.
“I’ve known and worked with Blair for years; she’s a fantastic marketer, highly respected and as creative as she is strategic,” said Emmerich. “The Pictures Group has an incredible marketing team, and with Blair at the helm, they’ll continue to set the industry standard for excellence.”
Most recently, Rich led the marketing efforts on It and helped direct the campaigns for a number of Warner Bros. Pictures’ critical and global box office hits, including Dunkirk, Wonder Woman, The Lego Batman Movie and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
“With our Pictures Group wrapping up a fantastic year, I’m excited that Toby will be taking on this expanded role at the Studio,” continued Tsujihara. “Over the last 12 months — and really throughout his career — he’s proved he has great instincts, the ability to balance the creative and commercial needs of the Studio, a deep well of experience and a leadership style that inspires those around him. I look forward to our continuing partnership.”
“I’m humbled and honored to have this opportunity to help continue Warner Bros. Pictures’ legacy of creativity, innovation and excellence,” said Emmerich. “We will remain focused on being the first choice for the world’s best filmmakers, whether they’re making their first film or their 34th. Between Warner Bros. and New Line, we have an incredible wealth of talented executives who Kevin and I feel lucky to work with, and who we know will consistently deliver successful film slates year after year.”
The Rich and Sanders promotions are effective immediately.
During the transition, Kroll will report to Tsujihara as a special advisor on the restructuring, including overseeing the high-profile awards campaigns for Dunkirk and Wonder Woman, as well as advise on select upcoming releases, including Ready Player One, slated for release March 30. She will move into her producer role April 1.