Exec to oversee marketing, production

Warner Bros. has reorganized its motion picture group and handed the reins to Jeff Robinov.

The current prexy of production will become president of the newly formed Warner Bros. Pictures Group in January, adding oversight of worldwide marketing and distribution to his purview while continuing to oversee production for all studio releases.

Prexy-chief operating officer Alan Horn will continue to have final greenlight authority, but the presidents of domestic and international marketing and distribution, who currently report to Horn, will report to Robinov.

Warner Independent prexy Polly Cohen already reports to Robinov, who will continue to share oversight of the studio’s direct-to-DVD division with the home entertainment group.

Move, long expected, follows the studio’s earlier streamlining of its TV and homevid divisions. Horn, who called the new group the “third leg of the stool,” acknowledged that it had been in the works for “months and months.”

“We’ve actually been on a very carefully designed rollout,” he said.

Horn said the reorg will allow him and Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Barry Meyer to concentrate on big- picture issues, while Robinov oversees pics from start to finish. Reorg puts him on par with Warner Bros. TV Group topper Bruce Rosenblum and homevid chieftain Kevin Tsujihara.

“One of the reasons we created these group structures first with television, then home entertainment, is because the business has gotten so complex,” Meyer said. Grouping the functions together acknowledges “these things are really tied together,” he added.

Robinov, head of production since 2002, said he doesn’t have any immediate changes planned once the reorg takes effect in January.

He dismissed rumblings that the studio would shutter its Warner Independent label, which has lately struggled to get traction at the B.O. He acknowledged that the specialty market is very competitive now but praised Cohen for her stewardship since she took over for Mark Gill a year and a half ago.

“They’ve made some very good movies,” Robinov said, citing “In the Valley of Elah” as one example. If anything, Robinov said, he hopes Cohen will inject more of her personality into the development process.

“We’re just going to keep moving ahead,” he said.

Horn also was quick to defend the 4-year-old label’s track record.

“It’s a challenging market out there,” he said. “The task of marketing and distributing these movies has never been more challenging than it is today.”

As production prexy, Robinov has shepherded the “Harry Potter,” “Batman” and “Superman” franchises. During his tenure, the studio won best picture Oscars for “Million Dollar Baby” and “The Departed,” and the animated feature Oscar for “Happy Feet.” He also oversaw production of “300,” “Ocean’s Thirteen,” “Syriana” and the “Matrix” trilogy.

This kudos season, the studio is promoting pics including “Michael Clayton,” “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” “In the Valley of Elah” and “The Bucket” for awards consideration.

Robinov joined the studio as senior VP of production in 1997 and was promoted to exec VP before getting the prexy nod five years ago. He came to the studio from ICM, where he repped the Hughes brothers, the Wachowskis and Christopher McQuarrie. He started his career as a tenpercenter at Writers & Artists.

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