EXCLUSIVE: Despite a rough 2015, Warner Bros Entertainment chairman/CEO Kevin Tsujihara has given a vote of confidence to Greg Silverman. The longtime Warner Bros executive has quietly been reupped to a multi-year deal, I’m told. Silverman is president of creative development and worldwide production and continues in that capacity. So the triumvirate set by Tsujihara after the exit of Jeff Robinov continues, as Sue Kroll continues to steer marketing and distribution while Toby Emmerich runs New Line.
The pressure to improve is there, but the existing team is getting the chance to turn it around. Silverman has been at the studio going on two decades, and the 2016 slate looks encouraging for Warner Bros, as it does for New Line under Emmerich and Richard Brener. Coming from Warner Bros are the first DC projects Batman V. Superman in March 25 and Suicide Squad on August 5. In addition, the Lego Batman spinoff comes in 2017, and the Harry Potter continuation Fantastic Beasts comes November 18. It is unclear if the studio will make a formal announcement, but this should answer some questions about the immediate future of Warner Bros.
There had been speculation that Tsujihara might seek out another chief executive at Warner Bros, after films like Our Brand Is Crisis and In The Heart of The Sea and others failed to connect. Some felt if Tsujihara was going to make a change, he would have done it by now. For his part, Silverman might have had a steep learning curve after stepping up to replace Robinov as WB’s picture picker, but he has a strong relationship with his Warner Bros executive team, and among talent. He clearly has learned lessons, and Warner Bros could find itself on much firmer footing with a 2016 that is strong on paper. Kroll is regarded as a preeminent marketer and Emmerich has continued to generate hits (San Andreas was a particular highlight) even after the past regime didn’t let him make Straight Outta Compton and Ride Along.
Despite some loud flops after a surprisingly strong start with the Clint Eastwood-directed American Sniper, Warner Bros finished third in domestic market share behind Universal and Disney, and is represented in the Golden Globes with the Ryan Coogler-directed Creed, with Sly Stallone a favorite in the Best Supporting Actor category in the Globes. Mad Max: Fury Road is up for Best Picture in the Drama category and George Miller is up for Best Director in the same category. Creed was an MGM/New Line title, but Silverman was very involved in Mad Max.
Silverman was also very involved in securing the next film by Warner Bros cornerstone filmmaker Chris Nolan, who recently committed to the WWII thriller Dunkirk. Zack Snyder directed Batman V Superman and the upcoming Justice League, but down the line, the Batman franchise is expected to relaunched in its own right with Best Picture winning-Argo director Ben Affleck helming a picture he is co-writing. Affleck plays the Batman role in Batman V. Superman and Justice League. While he was widely courted after American Sniper, Clint Eastwood also stayed put and helmed Sully, the Tom Hanks-starer for Warner Bros. Affleck is currently directing and starring in an adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel Live By Night, which he adapted. Also coming is the Steven Spielberg-directed Ready Player One, and multiple franchise launches that include the succession of DC superhero films, the Guy Ritchie-directed King Arthur: Knights of the Roundtable with Charlie Hunnam, a sequel to Godzilla, Kong Skull Island and the inevitable franchise collision between the reptile and the ape.
On paper, there certainly seems plenty of opportunity to right the ship.