Warner Bros distribution exec Dan Fellman has pegged the end of the year for his long-expected retirement after 37 years that was announced in 2013 as part of the major restructure when Jeff Robinov left. Sue Kroll, who was elevated along with Greg Silverman and Toby Emmerich in a triumvirate, adds WW distribution head to her title as WW marketing chief. This followed rumors that chairman Kevin Tsujihara might make big changes; word was that Kroll had been unhappy and eager to take on distribution as Warner Bros has lagged in domestic marketshare behind Universal Pictures and Disney, even though the studio has cracked $1 billion on the domestic front for the 15th straight year.
Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, who has been running overseas distribution, will now become both president of WW distribution as Warner Bros becomes the latest to consolidate domestic and international distribution. She reports to Kroll, who reports to Tsujihara.
Said Tsujihara: “Sue and Veronika are great executives with global perspectives and expertise that will serve this new structure well. Veronika has headed up our international distribution for the last 15 years and we know she’ll bring the same thoughtful, strategic management to our domestic film operations. And, Sue is widely known and respected for her acumen and success in marketing and distribution in the global film marketplace. Dan has been a formidable force in the distribution world, and there’s no one better to continue his great work on our behalf than Veronika and Sue.”
Fellman’s exit follows that of Sony’s Jeff Blake and Universal’s Nikki Rocco, and signals a changing of the guard at the studios. Fellman has been regarded as a beloved and very capable executive, and he goes back to the regimes of Bob Daly and Terry Semel, back when Warner Bros often was the market leader. It hasn’t been that way this year, and that has brought up the rumors. Warner Bros is currently in third place in domestic marketshare behind Universal and Disney, but mainly because the studio has released almost twice as many films as those other two, and had the carryover grosses of American Sniper to fuel the year. The studio’s biggest grossing film this year so far has come from New Line, with San Andreas being the only original live action tent pole film to emerge from any studio.
Kroll said she was looking forward to working more closely with Kwan Vandenberg: “Veronika and I have been partners for years, and I look forward to this next chapter in our professional relationship,” said Kroll. “I’d also like to acknowledge the legacy of excellence and achievement that Dan and his team have established. There’s a high bar set for us, and I’m confident that working together as a global team, we’ll continue this success.”