The newly restructured Warner Bros. Theater Ventures creates a bicoastal office that puts an exec on the ground on each coast, with exec VPs Mark Kaufman and Raymond Wu reporting to Alan Horn, who’ll oversee the division.
Reorganization aims to ramp up the studio’s stage biz in an effort to turn around a spotty record of Broadway activity. Last season the company laid the foundation for a holiday perennial with a tuner adaptation of “Elf,” which rang in powerhouse sales over Christmas and aims to return to the Main Stem in 2012. But spring outing “Baby It’s You!” folded earlier this month after struggling at the B.O., and vampire musical “Lestat” flopped in 2006.
New structure allows WB Theater Ventures to maintain a presence both in the legit industry in Gotham, where Kaufman is based, and with the studio in Burbank, where Wu is posted.
“Already that’s a change that will very definitely help us move this forward,” said Wu, the former Disney Theatricals staffer who’s been with WB Theater Ventures since 2005 and has served as VP of development and head of operations.
Goal is to tap the deep catalog of WB titles and properties, ranging from its extensive film library to DC Comics, Cartoon Network and Hanna Barbera, among other corporate branches. “I always thought Warners should be out there exploring its product, and I can’t wait to get started on exploiting it properly,” said Kaufman, the former New Line exec who was one of the producers on 2002 hit “Hairspray.” More recently serving a stint with Unique Features, Kaufman teamed with the WB on “Elf” earlier this season.
Along with “Elf” for the 2012-13 season, Warners is gearing up for a Sam Mendes-helmed stage incarnation of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” aiming for a 2013 bow in the U.K.
WB Theater Ventures also licenses titles to independent producers. “The Color Purple,” “42nd Street” and “The Wizard of Oz” have all made their way to the stage on licenses with the studio.Horn’s involvement in overseeing the division’s activities is part of the former topper’s current role as consultant for the studio.