Not Ron Sanders!

In my more than 30 years of covering the home entertainment business, for a wide range of outlets ranging from Video Store Magazine to the Hollywood Reporter, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times, I have witnessed more than a dozen top leadership changes at the major studios.

At Universal Pictures, I witnessed the departures of home entertainment chiefs Louis Feola, Bruce Pfander and Craig Kornblau; at Sony Pictures, Pat Campbell, Ben Feingold, David Bishop and Man Jit Singh. At Fox, I covered our business while Bob DeLellis, Jeff Yapp, Pat Wyatt and Mike Dunn occupied the president’s chair; at Disney, during the years home entertainment was run by Bill Mechanic, Ann Daly, Mike Johnson, Bob Chapek, Lori McPherson and Janice Marinelli. At Paramount, a series of top executive departures began with Eric Doctorow and continued with Meagan Burrows, Tom Lesinski, Kelly Avery and Dennis Mcguire.

When I began covering home entertainment in 1989, what was then Warner Home Video was headed by Warren Lieberfarb. The father of DVD was ousted at the end of 2002 and briefly replaced by Jim Cardwell; since October 2005 Ron Sanders has been in charge.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Was, that is. Sanders is one of about 600 staffers, many of them  veteran executives, who have been shown the door at WarnerMedia in the wake of the AT&T takeover, which has led to a new senior management team and, some observers have said, a new mindset bent on dismantling the old studio and creating a new Netflix.

Only time will tell whether the reimagining of Warner Bros. is a bold and visionary move or a disaster in the making. WarnerMedia leadership clearly has taken to heart the adage, “Change or die,” and I am sure they are well aware that there is a risk of doing both.

But back to Ron Sanders. While an astonishing array of smart, competent and even visionary home entertainment leaders have been shoved aside, Ron’s departure hits me especially hard.

Quite simply, I never expected him to go.

Ron Sanders, you see, is something of a rare bird in Hollywood. In all the years I’ve known him — and we go back to the early 1990s, when he joined Warner fresh from Procter & Gamble — Ron always struck me as a man of his word, a man of conviction, passion and integrity. He learned the business at a time when VHS rental was a mature business and beginning to decline, and the brightest minds at Warner were busy fulfilling then-president Warren Lieberfarb’s vision of a disc-based format that consumers would buy rather than rent.

DVD, of course, turned out to be one of the most successful product launches in history, reviving the home entertainment business and laying the groundwork for not just digital distribution but also Netflix, which was initially a DVD-by-mail rental service.

Lieberfarb was no dummy and saw something in Ron Sanders. A year after DVD’s launch, he sent him to England in 1998 to run Warner’s home entertainment operations overseas. I remember a long conversation Ron and I had beforehand, weighing the pros and cons of disrupting his life here in the United States and moving his family abroad. Ultimately he decided to go, and when he came back in December 2002 to join the top leadership team after the departure of Lieberfarb, it quickly became evident that Ron was destined for greater things, both at Warner and in the entertainment industry in general.

Less than three years after his return to the United States as head of Warner Home Video’s North American operations, Ron became division president. Under his lead, Warner was consistently No. 1 when it came to innovation and creativity — not to mention market share. He not only steered the ship, but he also charted its future course — and in doing so Warner became something of a beacon for the rest of the industry to follow, much as it had been during the Lieberfarb era through the launch and growth of DVD.

But as successful as he was in business, Ron Sanders was even more successful in something immeasurably more important: success as a human being. As I wrote back in 2013, when he was elevated to a broader role as head of the redubbed Warner Bros. Entertainment, Sanders represented “a new breed of executive we’re beginning to see more and more of in the Hollywood studio leadership ranks: Sensible, reasonable, even affable — a far cry from the desk-pounding tyrants of Hollywood lore. Anyone who knows Ron Sanders, who has worked alongside him, knows how incredibly hard it is to dislike him. When he says something, he means it. When he makes a promise, he follows through. He looks you in the eyes when he speaks to you; he is passionate about the industry, about Warner Bros., about business, about life.”

I concluded my column at the time noting that a veteran journalist, after interviewing Sanders some years back, quipped, “I wish there were more home video presidents like Ron Sanders.”

I just wish there were more people in my life like Ron Sanders.

AT&T CFO: WarnerMedia Staff Cuts Not Due to HBO Max Launch

WarnerMedia downsizing 600 positions on Aug. 10, which included the departure of longtime Warner Bros. Home Entertainment executive Ron Sanders, was not done in response to the launch of subscription streaming video-on-demand platform HBO Max, according to AT&T CFO John Stephens.

Speaking Aug. 11 at the virtual Oppenheimer Technology, Internet & Communications confab, Stephens said the job cuts — spearheaded by new WarnerMedia boss Jason Kilar — were done to refocus the company and eliminate redundancy.

AT&T CFO John Stephens

“All of these [business] groups are then focused and speak with one voice and, quite frankly, allow for some streamlining of support services, and back-office and G&A services,” Stephens said. “I view it as more of a refocusing of the company.”

Stephens said the cuts were not about a need to “adjust anything,” but rather to make WarnerMedia perform better going forward.

Sanders, who followed high-profile departures of Bob Greenblatt and Kevin Reilly on Aug. 7, was president of Warner Bros. worldwide theatrical distribution, and president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. With theatrical distribution at a standstill due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, coupled with WarnerMedia’s non-disclosure of home entertainment on its financial statements, current uncertainties in the studio business perhaps undermined Sanders’ job status.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Indeed, the primary focus at WarnerMedia remains HBO Max, which launched May 27 with about 4 million subs into a crowded SVOD market spearheaded by Netflix, with Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney+, among others, at the distance.

“The biggest thing, the most exciting thing for us [going forward] is HBO Max,” Stephens said.

Finally, Stephens said AT&T has downsized its $180 billion corporate debt level 15% to $153 billion through June 30. The telecom ballooned its debt following the $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, which included Warner Bros., HBO and Turner.

Ron Sanders Exits WarnerMedia, After Storied Career, in Management Reorganization

Veteran Warner Bros. Home Entertainment executive Ron Sanders is among a group of key executives who are leaving the company in the wake of a management restructuring implemented by new WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar.

Sanders, president of Warner Bros. worldwide theatrical distribution, and president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, has been an integral part of the studio’s retail management for nearly 30 years.

Sanders joins Jeffrey Schlesinger and Kim Williams as the latest high-profile executives among a reported 600 employees let go following the Aug. 7 departure of Bob Greenblatt and Kevin Reilly.

The latest cuts were first reported by The Wrap.

Sanders was named president of worldwide distribution for the entire motion picture group in January 2018, retaining his responsibilities as home entertainment chief. In that role, which he assumed in 2013, he oversaw the global distribution of home entertainment products from Warner Bros. Pictures Group, Warner Bros. Television Group and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. He was 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.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Ron is an exemplary executive and Warner Bros. was lucky to have him as one of their senior leaders for so long,” said Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, where Sanders had held several key leadership roles, including chair. “Ron played a key role in guiding and growing DEG and we will also be grateful for his involvement, his support and his scruples. He’s such a good guy.”

Sanders joined what was then Warner Home Video in 1991 and learned the business from some of the most talented executives of the day, led by then-division president Warren Lieberfarb.

“I hired Ron from Procter & Gamble, where he was a regional sales manager, and nurtured his growth,” said Warren Lieberfarb, hailed as the “father” of DVD. “I promoted him over the years, and he was eminently qualified. I am sure the future will offer him many more opportunities.”

According to a column by Media Play News publisher and editorial director Thomas K. Arnold, “The 1990s were a remarkable time in home entertainment: We saw the rise of sellthrough, the development of direct sales and, of course, the launch of DVD, birthed at Warner by Lieberfarb and his team. … Anyone who knows Ron Sanders, who has worked alongside him, knows how incredibly hard it is to dislike him. When he says something, he means it. When he makes a promise, he follows through. He looks you in the eyes when he speaks to you; he is passionate about the industry, about Warner Bros., about business, about life.”

Sanders ran Warner’s rental business during the tumultuous mid-1990s period of consolidation and copy-depth incentives. He moved into consumer sales just as DVD was taking off and in July 1998 was sent to London as managing director of the United Kingdom and Ireland divisions. A year and a half later, he was promoted to head of the entire EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region, overseeing Warner’s home video operations in 28 territories.

He returned to the United States in 2002 and was appointed president of Warner Home Video in October 2005. In May 2013 he was named president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment Distribution, with oversight of the global distribution of home entertainment products from Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Television, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE).

“Throughout this well-deserved rise, Sanders has remained remarkably grounded,” Arnold wrote in his column. “He and I used to swap stories about chauffeuring our kids to soccer games. … Mindful of his experience living with his family in London, Sanders endowed a study abroad program at his alma mater, Auburn University, where he also served on the Harbert College of Business Advisory Council.”

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group CES 2020 Event

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group held its annual CES party for home entertainment executives at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on Jan. 7. The event drew a wide range of guests, including home video presidents from the major studios and leading consumer electronics executives such as John Taylor of LG Electronics.

Warner Names Andrew Cripps President of International Theatrical Distribution

Warner Bros. Pictures has named veteran film distribution executive Andrew Cripps to the position of president of international theatrical distribution.

The appointment was announced by Ron Sanders, president of worldwide distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures and president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, to whom Cripps will report.

In his new role, Cripps will be responsible for overseeing all matters relating to the international theatrical distribution of the studio’s slate of motion pictures, which includes releases from Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

He’ll also work closely with Sanders on the development of theatrical growth opportunities and additional revenue streams for the division, as well as oversee the team that manages sales and distribution efforts across Warner Bros.’ network of affiliates and licensees in more than 125 territories worldwide.

Cripps has more than three decades’ experience leading overseas theatrical distribution for a number of major Hollywood studios, including United International Pictures, Paramount, Imax and, most recently, 20th Century Fox.

“Andrew is the consummate distribution executive, with a wide breadth of experience on both the studio and exhibitor side,” Sanders said in a statement. “With the continuing growth and importance of the international box office, having someone with Andrew’s insight and expertise leading our overseas efforts will benefit the entire Warner Bros. Pictures Group.”

Cripps most recently was president of International Theatrical Distribution for Fox, where he oversaw all strategic and managerial international theatrical distribution activities for the studio.

Before Fox, he served as president of Europe, Middle East and Africa for Imax, as well as EVP of the Imax Corp., based in London and responsible for expanding the Imax theater network across the region as well as sourcing content to play across that network.

Prior to that, he served five years as president, Paramount Pictures International, having joined the company after almost two decades at United International Pictures, a joint venture distribution company operated by Paramount, Universal and MGM/UA, most recently serving as its president and COO.

Cripps began his entertainment career as the Representative for Japan and Korea for Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment, a British film company.

Director Nolan Presented with DEG ‘Vanguard’ Award at Nov. 6 4K UHD Summit

Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Christopher Nolan was presented with the first-ever DEG “Vanguard” award at the 4K UHD Summit Nov. 6 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

The event was produced by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and the UHD Alliance (photo gallery).

Presenting the award to Nolan was Ron Sanders, president, Worldwide Theatrical Distribution and president, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

“For those of you who’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with Chris, you know that whatever project he is involved with he doesn’t take it on unless he is fully committed — and I mean all in,” Sanders said. “The good news for all of us in this room is that Chris immediately got the potential for 4K.”

The DEG Vanguard Award is in recognition of Nolan’s place at the forefront of filmmakers using groundbreaking technology to deliver increased scale and resolution, enhanced color and immersive audio to film audiences both in cinemas and in the home theater environment.  The director, writer and producer most recently earned dual Academy Award nominations, for Best Director and Best Picture, for Dunkirk, which in July 2017 received the largest 70mm release in the last quarter century. His filmography also includes InterstellarInception, “The Dark Knight Trilogy,” The Prestige, and Memento, for which he received his first Oscar nomination, for Best Original Screenplay. With the December 2017 release of the seven film “The Christopher Nolan Collection” on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray by Warner Bros., Nolan became the filmmaker with the largest number of films available in the most advanced home-based viewing format, according to the DEG.

Sanders noted the director’s commitment to preparing his films and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey for the new format.

“He agreed to oversee the remastering of his entire film library for 4K,” Sanders said. “It took months and months out of his schedule. It was during the release of Dunkirk, by the way. But he was really determined to deliver the best of what our format offers to consumers in the home, and as a result I think he’s become the world’s foremost filmmaking expert on 4K and how to use the technology to present films for the home screen.”

Nolan has been a longtime advocate of the best home viewing experience available to consumers.

“It really puts us in a position where we can get closer and closer to a theatrical print in the home,” Nolan said of 4K UHD with HDR.

He also said he was a “big fan of the 4K disc because it removes the uncertainties of streaming.”

“It’s fantastic for the filmmaker to have a physical media that eliminates the variabilities, the compression and so forth,” he said. “That’s the gold standard that streaming is going to have to reach.”

He noted his generation of filmmakers came up with access to home video, which informed their art.

“I’m really part of the first generation of filmmakers who grew up with home video in the form that we know today, starting with VHS, and the idea that you could have access to a film and you could go back and look at different parts of it and have a different kind of relationship with it,” Nolan said.

He said home video affected his filmmaking on several levels.

“My generation of filmmakers, who were starting out just as DVD was becoming the dominant format, I think were very influenced by our relationship with that new way of looking at films with chapter selection and random access,” he said. “I think we started thinking of films and owning films more like books in a way. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a lot of us at the time, myself included, started exploring various different narrative structures. I think the things are very related. I think my experience with home video has always informed my filming both narratively and technically.”

Nolan hailed the industry for expanding film viewing.

“Thank you to all of you for all the great work you do in positioning filmmakers like myself to be able to present our work to wider and wider audiences,” he said.

The 4K Ultra HD Summit focused on advancements in 4K UHD technology, increasing affordability of the technology, and widening availability of content.

“It’s about the splendors of the UHD format and what it does in delivering an experience to consumers that is beyond anything that they’ve experienced prior to this point in time,” said Michael Fidler, president of the UHD Alliance, in opening the inaugural summit.

“We’re really excited and bullish about 4K, the full 4K ecosystem, the TVs, the device players, the discs and of course the digital 4K movies as well,” said Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of the DEG.

Bob Buchi

“4K UHD has really transformed the home viewing experience and clearly consumers are getting it,” said Bob Buchi, president, worldwide, Paramount Home Media Distribution. “Product sales are up 87% in comparison to the first three quarters of last year. There are now 42 million homes with a 4K UHD television, and in terms of content, there are now 392 titles available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc and 595 titles available on digital, so the numbers keep growing and for good reason.”

Buchi said Paramount, along with the other studios, is “really expanding the number of films from our library available on 4K UHD with HDR, including in our case, all of the films from the ‘Mission Impossible’ franchise.”

The latest installment, Mission: Impossible — Fallout, debuts on the 4K UHD Blu-ray format Dec. 4.

“I can tell you, hands down, the best way to see it is on 4K will all of the bells and whistles,” he said.

The format also offers preservation capabilities, he noted.

“We’ve been using 4K to scan classic titles in our library for archival purposes,” he said. “In fact, Paramount has preserved over 1,000 films in 4K.”

That includes such classics as Grease, Nashville, Chinatown, To Catch a Thief and the original War of the Worlds, he said.

“I think the detail, the color and the light that the filmmakers left us from the original film elements have never been more vivid, and the creative genius from these filmmakers is really coming through,” Buchi said.

He said the 4K edition of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life shows the Oscar-winning snow effect, an innovation from more than 70 years ago, “with greater detail and sharpness thanks to the innovation of 4K.”

“The success of the format really helps us deliver the content that better represents each filmmaker’s original vision,” he said.

Citing Nolan’s contribution to 4K UHD, Buchi said, “We worked with him on Interstellar, and I can tell you there’s no one who’s been a bigger and better champion for optimizing the home viewing experience.”

AT&T Boss Sends Mixed Messages Following Time Warner Acquisition Close

NEWS ANALYSIS — Following consummation of AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson sent out a staff memo welcoming Time Warner — which includes Warner Bros., Turner and HBO — to the fold.

“As different as our businesses are, I think you’ll find we have a lot in common,” Stephenson said, adding, “We’re big fans of your talent and creativity. And you have my word that you will continue to have the creative freedom and resources to keep doing what you do best.”

Commonality is always a slippery slope in corporate mergers. Shared interests often translate into operational redundancies that require fiscal cutbacks and eliminated positions.

AT&T projects $1.5 billion in annualized cost “synergies” by end of the third year of the acquisition.

Indeed, in a separate statement, AT&T said Time Warner would be folded into the telecom’s media business segment headed by John Stankey, with a new brand name to be announced.

As previously reported, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes will continue for a limited time as a senior advisor during the transition. All of Bewkes’ direct reports now answer to Stankey, which include Kevin Tsujihara, CEO of Warner Bros., John Martin, CEO of Turner, and Richard Plepler, CEO of HBO.

“We’re going to bring a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors and advertisers,” said Stephenson.

How that “fresh” approach works out for Warner remains to be seen.

Tsujihara, in May, initiated a string of management changes that included the promotion of Jim Wuthrich to president of worldwide home entertainment and games. Wuthrich reports to Ron Sanders, president of worldwide theatrical distribution and home entertainment.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment reported a near 6% increase in fiscal 2017 revenue to $1.56 billion from physical and digital sales of movies — up from $1.48 billion in 2016. Sales of TV content on disc and digital declined 11% to $418 million from $470 million.

Warner Restructuring Nothing More Than Common Sense

There’s been all sorts of speculation in the media about the big restructuring at Warner Bros. that, among other changes, saw home entertainment chief Ron Sanders take charge of all motion picture distribution and Blair Rich likewise have oversight of marketing across all windows.

Media wags have connected Warner Bros. Entertainment chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara’s move to all sorts of things, from the now-stalled AT&T acquisition to the “Justice League” movie franchise.

But if you take a step back and really take a look at the new structure, it becomes clear that the real reason is, quite simply, that it makes sense.

With distribution windows blurring, it is only logical to have one person call the distribution shots, rather than two people, each with skin in a different game. The same goes for marketing. Having oversight over a movie’s journey through its entire life cycle, from theatrical opening to its various after-market platforms, seems an incredibly logical and smart strategy.

(Interestingly, Paramount Pictures made a partial move down this same path when it appointed former 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment president and chief marketing officer Mary Daily, long considered one of the smartest and savviest marketers in Hollywood, to president of international theatrical marketing and worldwide home media entertainment.)

The elevation of Sanders to distribution chief of the Warner Pictures Group is also a tremendous vote of confidence in the future of home entertainment – which really should be seen as more of a concept than a specific industry. Since the advent of pay-per-view and the video rental business more than four decades ago, consumers have been on a quest to control their entertainment viewing options – to bring entertainment to them. Initially, it was just into their home; in recent years, thanks to the cloud, this “home” has expanded to various mobile devices, including the now-ubiquitous smart phone.

Home entertainment, then, is a lot broader than the traditional transactional model. It’s Netflix, it’s Amazon, it’s anything that brings entertainment to the viewer, on demand, wherever the viewer wants to consume it. And while premium VOD may have suffered some setbacks recently, there’s no question in most everyone’s mind that its eventual realization is inevitable – at last putting home entertainment on par with theatrical.

A final note about Ron Sanders: As I have written before, Sanders, much like Tsujihara, represents a new class of executive emerging in the Hollywood leadership ranks: Smart, personable, reasonable, and practical. They don’t yell, scream and bully like the studio chiefs of old Hollywood because, quite simply, they don’t have to. They have something infinitely more valuable than control: They have the respect of the people who work with them.

Sanders joined what was then Warner Home Video in 1991 and learned the business from some of the most talented executives of the day, led by then-division president Warren Lieberfarb. The 1990s were a remarkable time in home entertainment: We saw the rise of sellthrough, the development of direct sales and, of course, the launch of DVD, birthed at Warner by Lieberfarb and his team.

As I wrote some years ago, in words that continue to ring true, “Anyone who knows Ron Sanders, who has worked alongside him, knows how incredibly hard it is to dislike him. When he says something, he means it. When he makes a promise, he follows through. He looks you in the eyes when he speaks to you; he is passionate about the industry, about Warner Bros., about business, about life.”

Sanders ran Warner’s rental business during the tumultuous mid-1990s period of consolidation and copy-depth incentives. He moved into consumer sales just as DVD was taking off and in July 1998 was sent to London as managing director of the United Kingdom and Ireland divisions. A year and a half later, he was promoted to head of the entire EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region, overseeing Warner’s home video operations in 28 territories. He returned to the United States in 2002 and was appointed president of the division in October 2005. In May 2013 he was named president, Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment Distribution, with oversight of the global distribution of home entertainment products from Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Television, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE).

Throughout this well-deserved rise, Sanders has remained remarkably grounded. He and I used to swap stories about chauffeuring our kids to soccer games and treating our families to fanciful summer vacations. Mindful of his experience living with his family in London, Sanders endowed a study abroad program at his alma mater, Auburn University, where he also served on the Harbert College of Business Advisory Council.

He’s not just a good executive. He’s a good person. Congratulations, Ron.

Ron Sanders Upped to Distribution Chief for Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group

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.