Longtime studio boss Toby Emmerich is leaving as Chairman of the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, as the studio restructures internally following the operational acquisition of the former WarnerMedia by Discovery and CEO David Zaslav.
Emmerich, who is set to start his own production company, will be replaced by former MGM Studios executives Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy later this summer.
Emmerich joined Warner Bros. in 1992 as a dual development and music executive. He stayed on with New Line, eventually becoming president and chief content officer of Warner Bros. Pictures in 2017.
He was the driving force behind a diverse collection of highly successful movies and TV series, including The Notebook, Elf, Crazy Rich Asians, A Star Is Born and The Batman.
Zaslav, in a memo to staff, said the executive change was part of a plan to split Warner Bros. into three operational units focusing on films, animation and DC superhero movies.
There is no word yet on how the restructuring will impact other studio departments, including home entertainment.
Director Christopher Nolan’s international espionage thriller, Tenet, was supposed to usher back a sense of normalcy in the theatrical business with its debut on July 17, but the Warner Bros. release has been pushed back to July 31.
The studio didn’t give a reason for the delay, but observers say the slow reopening of theaters — and questions about how eager consumers will be to return — as the key factors. The studio also pushed back for the second time Wonder Woman 1984, from Aug. 14 to Oct. 2. The sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman was originally slated for June 5.
“We’re especially thrilled, in this complex and rapidly changing environment, to be bringing Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, a global tentpole of jaw-dropping size, scope and scale, to theaters around the world on July 31,” Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group, said in a media statement. “It’s been longer than any of us could’ve imagined since we’ve seen a movie on the big screen.”
Emmerich said the studio would be re-releasing Nolan’s mind-bending sci-fi thriller Inception in theaters July 17 in honor of the movie’s 10th anniversary.
“Over these last months we have been keeping Warner Bros. closely informed of our work towards reopening our theaters in accordance with governmental health and safety requirements, and we are looking forward to audiences enjoying ‘Tenet’ in our theaters all around the world on July 31,” the National Association of Theatre Owners said in a statement.
Whether Warner’s delays impact Disney’s planned July 24 theatrical launch of Mulan remains to be seen. ViacomCBS’s CEO Bob Bakish, on the companys recent fiscal call, said he hoped the theatrical business would be back to a new normal in time for the August release of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.
WarnerMedia has named an interim management team to run Warner Bros. following the March 19 departure of studio chairman/CEO Kevin Tsujihara, who left following allegations of sexual impropriety with a young actress.
The team consists of Toby Emmerich, chairman of the motion pictures group, Peter Roth, CCO and president of Warner Bros. Television, and CFO Kim Williams, according to Variety, which cited sources familiar with the situation.
The team will run daily operations at the studio while WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey seeks a new studio boss. Media reports have suggested Stacey Snider, outgoing CEO at 20th Century Fox Film Corp., as a possible candidate.
Tsujihara’s exit comes following a second internal investigation into allegations the CEO secured screen roles and auditions for aspiring actress Charlotte Kirk, with whom the married executive had an affair.
Details of the 6-year-old affair — including text messages — were made public by The Hollywood Reported earlier this month.