New deal for president of WB Pictures Group

Jeff Robinov has been reupped as president of the Warner Bros. Pictures Group on the heels of the studio’s socko summer.

Warner Bros. had no confirmation of Robinov’s deal closing Sunday, but the official announcement is expected to come soon.

The move to reup Robinov isn’t a surprise given last year’s stunning success with “The Dark Knight” plus the blockbuster box office racked up by Warner’s “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (with $904 million in combined domestic and foreign gross) and “The Hangover” with a surprising $430 million worldwide.

Warner Bros. set a domestic box office record last year with $1.78 billion and drew international grosses of $1.81 billion. The studio currently leads the pack for 2009 domestic grosses, topping $1.45 billion. Its latest title, “The Final Destination,” won the weekend with $28.3 million, another solid performance from a New Line entry.

Robinov’s new deal comes nearly two years after Warners promoted him from president of production to head the newly formed Warner Bros. Pictures Group. That move brought together motion picture production, marketing and distribution operations — the presidents of domestic and international marketing and distribution report directly to Robinov.

The reupping of Robinov will likely lead to speculation that he’s being groomed to eventually succeed either studio chairman-CEO Barry M. Meyer or prexy-chief operating officer Alan Horn. Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes reupped Meyer and Horn in March for another two years at Warner Bros., continuing the duo’s decade-long partnership in the top slots at the studio.

In the past two years, the studio has continued to focus on tentpoles such as the “Harry Potter” and “Batman” franchises but has also seen successes in “The Hangover,” “Gran Torino,” “Yes Man” and “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Major titles still coming this year include “Sherlock Holmes” and “Where the Wild Things Are”; next year’s key entries include part one of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” “Clash of the Titans,” “Inception,” “Due Date” and “Jonah Hex.”

With parent company Time Warner facing a declining stock price, Warners was forced to absorb New Line Cinema last year and to shutter the Warner Independent and Picturehouse labels. The studio announced earlier this year that it was cutting 10% of its worldwide staff by eliminating 200 open positions, laying off 300 workers and outsourcing 300 information technology and accounting jobs.

Robinov joined Warner Bros. in 1997 as a senior VP of production after working for three years as an ICM agent. He was promoted to president of production in 2002.

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