Chinese entertainment and tech industry veteran Gillian Zhao has been named EVP and Managing Director for Warner Bros China. The exec becomes the studio’s first country manager for the Middle Kingdom.
Zhao will have general oversight of all of Warner Bros’ businesses in China, including theatrical distribution, TV distribution, home entertainment, consumer products, games and emerging distribution technologies. She will work with in-place executives to optimize opportunities to grow WB operations in China and will report to and work with Richard Fox, Warners’ EVP International who relocated from Los Angeles in January, to explore new opportunities and partnerships in the world’s No. 2 box office market.
Zhao’s appointment is separate to Warner’s Flagship Entertainment Group initiative in the Middle Kingdom which is focused on local-language content. There is likely to be crossover, but Zhao will be largely dealing wtih oversight of U.S. content in terms of film, TV and home entertainment in the market.
Warner Bros has been aggressively looking to build its business in China, last year sealing a deal with CMC Holdings to create joint venture Flagship Entertainment Group, which has a mandate to produce Chinese-language films. In June, it named Elaine Feng as president of Flagship Pictures China.
“Gillian is well-known and well-respected in the Chinese entertainment business,” said Fox. “She’s a great addition to our team and will bring us a more market-oriented and localized approach.”
Prior to joining Warner Bros, Zhao most recently served as Senior Assistant to the President of Wanda Culture Group and CEO of Wanda Pictures. During that time, Wanda Pictures grew into China’s top privately owned film company, with more than $1B in box office in 2015. She has also held posts at Bona Film Group, Celestial Entertainment China, Star TV and Apple China.