The announcement came Monday following heavy speculation that Robinov would follow former colleague, Warner Bros. Television Group chief Bruce Rosenblum, out the door — even though the film studio has seen a strong launch for “Man of Steel,” which has grossed nearly $400 million in less than two weeks.
Robinov, who had held the post since 2007, will be replaced by a three-person team — production president Greg Silverman, marketing chief Sue Kroll and New Line chief TobyEmmerich. That trio will report directly to Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara.
Kroll and Silverman were given new titles. Kroll is president of worldwide marketing and international distribution and Silverman becomes president of creative development and worldwide production.
Emmerich will continue as New Line’s president and chief operating officer while adding the responsibility for Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures.
Greenlight authority over films will continue with the studio’s greenlight committee.
Dan Fellman will continue in his role as president of domestic distribution, reporting directly to Tsujihara. Veronika Kwan Vandenberg will continue as president of international distribution and ultimately assume responsibility for worldwide distribution, taking on domestic distribution upon the planned retirement of Fellman. Kwan Vandenberg will report to Kroll.
All five execs previously reported to Robinov.
Warner’s official announcement made no mention of Robinov. News of his departure was disclosed in an internal memo sent out by Chairman Barry Meyer and Tsujihara, which asked employees to congratulate Kroll, Silverman, Emmerich, Fellman and Kwan Vandenberg.
“We also want to let you know that Jeff Robinov will no longer serve as President of Warner Bros. Pictures Group and thank him for his years of valued service to the company in that position,” Meyer and Tsujihara said.
“Warner Bros. is the world’s preeminent motion picture studio with one of the most talented executive benches in the industry,” said Tsujihara in the announcement. “Collectively, this team has more than 100 years at the company and broad experience across the film business, which will ensure that Warner Bros. Pictures continues as a respected leader in production, marketing and global distribution. I have every confidence that we will continue to deliver the industry’s most compelling, popular and successful movies.”
“This marks an exciting new chapter in the storied history of Warner Bros. Pictures,” Meyer said. “We are in the midst of another terrific year, and our film division will continue to thrive well into the future under this realigned organization.”
People close to the situation have said that Robinov’s relationships have soured significantly with Tsujihara and Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes. Robinov’s relationship with Tsujihara has been particularly frayed since Tsujihara took over as the top executive following a two-year “bake off” process between Robinov, Rosenbloom and Tsujihara to succeed Warner Bros.’ outgoing chairman Barry Meyer.
Robinov took last week off from work in spite of the impressive opening of “Man of Steel.”
People close to Robinov say he has no interest in being a producer and would like to find another top studio job in which he could utilize his abilities to work with top talent such as Christopher Nolan and Ben Affleck.
But there are no such openings at the present time. The only potential slot is at 2oth Century Fox, where chairman Jim Gianopulos is known to be looking to bring in a No. 2.
Robinov has been openly expressing his discontent at the studio ever since losing the run-off in January.
Rosenblum, who competed for the top spot along with Robinov and Tsujihara, left the studio in mid-May. Two weeks ago, he joined Legendary Entertainment as president of the company’s newly launched television and digital media division.
Subsid Legendary Pictures, which has been a longtime co-financing and production partner at Warner Bros., is also poised to leave the fold. Robinov and Legendary CEO Thomas Tull have had a tumultuous relationship over issues such as creative control.
Robinov joined Warner Bros. Pictures in 1997, following five years as a lit agent at ICM, where he repped writers and directors including the Hughes brothers, Wachowski siblings, Chris McQuarrie and McG. He’s known for his talent relationships with certain filmmakers like Nolan, Affleck, Zack Snyder and Baz Luhrmann.
Tracking for Warner Bros.’ big-budget July 12 release “Pacific Rim,” of which Legendary owns 75%, has been weak. WB has had a strong second quarter with “Man of Steel,” “The Great Gatsby” and “The Hangover Part 3” following a disappointing first quarter with “Gangster Squad” and New Line’s “Jack the Giant Slayer” and “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.”
Warner Bros. has high hopes for New Line’s horror thriller “The Conjuring,” which bows July 19 and has had solid response from early test screenings. “We are The Millers,” also from New Line, opens in August.
Kroll was named as president of worldwide marketing in 2008 and is highly regarded as a savvy and hard-working executive. Notable recent campaigns include “Man of Steel,” “The Great Gatsby” and Oscar Best Picture winner “Argo.”
Silverman was promoted to president of production two years ago, filling the slot vacated by Kevin McCormick who segued to a producing deal. The low-key exec is credited with overseeing “The Great Gatsby,” “Argo” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Emmerich was named to the top New Line slots in March 2008 when Warner Bros. downsized the banner from 600 employees to 50 and ousted longtime chiefs Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne. He was president of production for seven years before that, overseeing the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.