WB makes room at top

Studio gives di Bonaventura the world, Robinov the reins

In a restructuring of Warner Bros. Pictures’ operations, Lorenzo di Bonaventura has been promoted to the newly created corporate position of Warner Bros. executive VP of worldwide motion pictures, while Jeff Robinov has been named Warner Bros. Pictures president of domestic production.

In addition, Steve Papazian has been named prexy of physical production at Warner Bros. Pictures. Warner Bros. president and chief operating officer Alan Horn, to whom di Bonaventura will continue to report, announced the promotions, which are effective immediately.

Reporting to di Bonaventura are Robinov and Papazian as well as Warners domestic marketing, which is led by president Dawn Taubin.

Robinov long has advanced himself to head Warners’ production, making it clear to studio brass that he wanted to leave if that wasn’t possible. As he oversaw many of Warners’ most successful films, including “The Matrix” franchise as well as “Cats & Dogs,” that was a scenario Warners did not want to entertain.

At the same time, there was no desire to push aside di Bonaventura, who faced his own hard-fought struggle to earn oversight of Warners’ productions.

The solution was found in creating a new post for di Bonaventura that would give him a strong hand in production while shifting the studio slate’s day-to-day tasks to Robinov. Warners’ creative production and story departments, which previously reported to di Bonaventura, now report to Robinov. Domestic theatrical marketing has been added to di Bonaventura’s responsibilities in an effort to better integrate marketing into production at the earliest creative stages.

Taubin’s domestic marketing operation comprises nearly 200 employees, who include media, market research, promotions, creative advertising and publicity. She previously reported to Horn.

Banking on success

Last year was the best “in the history of Warner Bros. Pictures, and 2002 is well on its way to being another record-breaking year,” Horn said. “These changes not only recognize the extraordinary contributions Lorenzo, Jeff, Steve and Dawn have made to this success but also put in place a structural shift that recognizes and takes advantage of the critically important organic connection between development, production, post-production and marketing.”

While Horn maintains greenlight authority, di Bonaventura now has full production oversight for all aspects from development to acquisitions to physical production.

Di Bonaventura remains the gatekeeper for all the creative elements for films produced by or with Warners, including those from Village Roadshow, Bel-Air Prods. and Gaylord Films, as well as from independent producers.

In addition to having complete oversight of the studio’s independent theatrical production deals, di Bonaventura will continue to share responsibility with exec VP, international, Richard Fox for the studio’s local-language production.

Day-to-day duties

Robinov will handle most of the day-to-day development process for feature films produced or co-produced by Warners. He also will serve as liaison to Castle Rock and oversee the studio’s “Looney Tunes” theatrical shorts program.

Papazian will remain in charge of physical production and fiscal aspects of all films produced or co-produced by Warners.

Di Bonaventura joined Warner Bros. Pictures in 1989 as a production exec and was promoted to VP of production shortly thereafter. He was named senior veep of production in 1993 and exec VP of production in 1995. In 1996, he became the co-head of Warners theatrical production, and he assumed his most recent post as sole president of Warners worldwide production in April 1998.

Robinov joined Warners in 1997 after five years as a literary agent at ICM. There, he repped directors and writers such as the Wachowski brothers, the Hughes brothers, Christopher McQuarrie and McG.

Robinov is supervising some of the studio’s most important films, including “The Matrix Reloaded,” “The Matrix Revolutions,” “Troy” and “Looney Tunes: Back in Action.”

Papazian has spent most of his 34-year career at the studio, with a two-year hiatus at Universal Television as exec VP of production. He started in the Warners mailroom in 1968 and rose through the feature and television production ranks to his most recent post as executive vice president of physical production, which he has held since January 1996.

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