Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav on Wednesday dropped his memo to staff about Toby Emmerich stepping down as Chairman of the Motion Picture Group and the three new studio divisions being put in place. It’s a slightly similar structure to the way Disney handles its franchise brands, with the hope that DC will have its own Kevin Feige maestro to exploit IP across all mediums.
At the same time, the studio has sent out the official press release announcing former MGM film executives Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy being named co-chairpersons and CEOs of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, which currently includes Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema, DC-Based Film Production, and Warner Bros. Feature Animation.
“Michael and Pam are supremely talented creative leaders with a proven track record of success. We are thrilled to welcome them both to our Warner Bros. Discovery family, and look forward to seeing them take this nearly century-old iconic studio to even greater heights of excellence in film,” said Zaslav in a statement.
“Warner Bros. is home to the best creatives in the business and Pam and I look forward to executing on David’s directive to ‘dream big and dream bold’ as we strive to create the next generation of hit movies with the power to entertain, excite and inspire,” said De Luca. “We’re grateful to Toby for the tremendous impact he has had on this studio and our industry and we’re thrilled to be able to continue to benefit from his vast experience and creativity.”
Emmerich and Zaslav just traveled to Cannes for the world premiere of Elvis, which the latter told Deadline at the afterparty he was wowed by. Zaslav also enjoyed and took cell phone video of the drone Elvis Presley music-themed light show. Emmerich’s five-year production deal announced today — which includes Warner Bros Discovery bankrolling Emmerich’s venture and having distribution rights to his film and TV series — indicates the former Warner Bros boss won’t be far away on the Burbank, CA lot despite the changeover here from one New Line executive to another.
As Zaslav says below in his memo, Emmerich “is a great leader and a friend to me and to many,” while extoling Emmerich’s feature achievements including 2018 as a banner year for the studio with $5.6 billion global box office; Aquaman, the most successful DC movie; pics like Ready Player One, The Meg, A Star Is Born and Crazy Rich Asians;as well as the top grossing R-rated movie of all-time, the $1.08 billion-grossing Joker, which won two Oscars.
Zaslav’s note to staff is below.
This morning, Toby Emmerich informed his team of his decision to step down as chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group and launch his own production company. I have known Toby for years, he is a great leader and a friend to me and to many, and I am very happy for him, and even more thrilled that he has chosen to remain a part of our Warner Bros. Discovery family through this new production venture. We’re also grateful to him for agreeing to stay at the helm of Warner Bros. Pictures Group through a transition period this summer.
Over the last few months, Toby and I have been talking about the best structure for Warner Bros. Pictures Group and the idea of creating three distinct film segments around Warner Bros. Pictures/New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Feature Animation, and DC-Based Film Production. I have greatly appreciated his insight and partnership throughout this process and feel confident this is the right strategy for our company going forward.
It was during these same discussions that Toby first shared with me his desire to start his own production company. I told him he had my absolute support. He is incredibly talented with a well-deserved reputation throughout the industry as a bold, creative visionary. While at the helm of New Line Cinema and then the entire Warner Bros. Picture Group, he has been a driving force behind a diverse collection of highly successful movies and series, including The Notebook, Elf, Crazy Rich Asians, A Star Is Born and The Batman. I have no doubt he will deliver even more exceptional, one-of-a-kind stories in his new capacity, and I look forward to continuing our working relationship for many years to come.
We have a deep history of world-class production here at Warner Bros. Discovery, and our intent going forward is to tell more of the best stories and to share them with an even bigger audience around the world. Toby and his team will play an important and valued role in this endeavor, we’re so glad to have them join us, and we can’t wait to see what they will create in the months and years ahead.
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