Warner Bros DiscoveryA film studio management structure is taking shape, according to people familiar with the matter hollywood reporterbecause the executive teams of Michael DeLuca and Pamela Abdi have reached an agreement once Amazon removes Warner and New Line from MGM’s contract — as soon as next month.
Toby Emmerich, who has been running Warners and New Line since 2017, will step down from the role but has a production deal with Warner Bros. Discovery. “I have no doubt that he will tell more extraordinary, one-of-a-kind stories in his new capacity, and I look forward to continuing our working relationship for many years to come,” Warner Bros. Discovery head David Zaslav said in a memo to employees on Wednesday.
After DeLuca and Abdi leave MGM, their immediate reports will temporarily report to Julie Rappaport, under the supervision of Jen Salk, until Mike Hopkins names a replacement and announces it new structure. The structure is expected to involve expanded film work by MGM and Amazon, including wider theatrical releases.
Zaslav’s strategy in shaping the company was to create three verticals, each with its own leadership: Warner Bros. New Line (under De Luca and Abdy), DC, and animation. Walter Hamada, president of DC Films, will report to De Luca and Abdy until new leadership is established, while the animation vertical leader has yet to be named.
Zaslav’s intention was to emulate the system implemented at the studio by former Warner Bros. Disney CEO Bob Iger, with the vertical reporting directly to him. Zaslav spoke with former Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn about serving as a consultant. (Zasslav consulted not only Horn but also Iger when designing a vertical approach that oversaw Warner Bros. exploring the company’s film execution structure.)
Tidying up DC remains Zaslav’s main challenge.The source said he asked Todd Phillips, the multi-hyphenate who made $201.9 billion in 2019 clown, is doing more in the DC area, although he won’t be in an executive role, but may be a consultant. Phillips and Zaslav have found a rapport, even though Phillips isn’t an expert on the wider DC universe, a person familiar with the matter said. While at Disney-owned Marvel, chief creative officer Kevin Feige oversees film, TV animation and publishing, there is no single voice directing DC. (DC President Hamada oversees the film universe, including its HBO Max spinoff, based on the company’s characters.) DC’s properties are only loosely linked — sometimes in completely separate universes, like the Oscar-winning clown and Matt Reeves Batmanreleased in March.
A Disney and Warner veteran, Horn had no formal arrangements in place before Zaslav assembled the executive team. Horn didn’t want to get involved sooner because of his relationships with multiple players or potential players. In 2011, he left Warners as the company shuffled, and his return to Warners was a complete moment. He then went on to have big success at Disney.Likewise, DeLuca was fired as New Line’s production president in 2001 after a string of failures, including the Adam Sandler bomb little nickyAfter more than 20 years, he returned to the film studio as head.
Warner declined to comment, as did De Luca, Abdy and Emmerich.
Zaslav’s full instructions to employees on Wednesday are as follows:
This morning, Toby Emmerich informed his team of his decision to step down as chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group and start his own production company. I have known Toby for many years, he is a great leader and a friend to me and many others, and I am very happy for him and even more excited that he has chosen to continue to be a part of the Warner Bros. Discovery family through this action. new production enterprises. We also thank him for agreeing to stay at the helm of Warner Bros. Pictures during this summer’s transition period.
For the past few months, Toby and I have been discussing the best structure for the Warner Bros. Pictures group, and the creation of three distinct film segments around Warner Bros. Pictures/New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Feature Animation, and DC- idea. Based on film production. I greatly appreciate his insight and partnership throughout the process and believe this is the right strategy for our company moving forward.
It was during these discussions that Toby first shared with me his desire to start his own production company. I told him I absolutely supported him. He is talented and has a well-deserved reputation across the industry as a bold, creative visionary. During his time at the helm of New Line Cinema and the entire Warner Bros. Pictures Group, he has been the driving force behind a string of highly successful films and series, including The Notebook, Genie, Crazy Rich Asians, A Star’s Birth and Batman. I have no doubt that he will tell more extraordinary, one-of-a-kind stories in his new capacity, and I look forward to continuing our working relationship for many years to come.
Warner Bros. Discovery has a deep history of world-class production, and our goal for the future is to tell more of the best stories and share them with a wider audience around the world. Toby and his team will play an important and valuable role in this work, we are delighted they are joining us, and we can’t wait to see what they create in the months and years to come.
Aaron Couch contributed to this report.
June 1st at 1:20pm PST Updated David Zaslav’s memo to staff.