The move follows the box office success of “Joker,” the gritty comic book adaption that became the highest-grossing R-rated movie in history with an $875 million haul. Made for $62 million, it will also be one of the most profitable superhero movies of all time.
In her new role, Blackwood will be responsible for the day to day operations of the picture group including physical production, business affairs, and music. She will also continue to oversee New Line Cinema, where she and Emmerich forged their long-term business alliance, and Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, the company’s stage division.
Emmerich has been at the helm of the pictures group since 2017, guiding it during a tumultuous time. His tenure coincided with parent company Time Warner’s sale to AT&T, a period that saw the movie studio in a bit of a holding pattern as it waited for its new corporate chieftains to assume regulatory approval. That was followed by more upheaval after Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara was forced out in 2019 in the wake of a sex scandal. He was replaced by Ann Sarnoff.
Despite these headwinds, Emmerich helped guide Warner Bros. to its most successful box office year in 2018, one in which the studio fielded hits such as “Crazy Rich Asians,” “A Star is Born,” and “Aquaman.” This year has been more problematic, with the studio shouldering bombs such as “The Goldfinch,” “The Kitchen,” and “Blinded By the Light.” It did score hits, however, with the likes of “Shazam!” and “It: Chapter Two.” Emmerich is known for his cerebral manner, as well as his sterling taste in material and strong relationships with key creative talent such as James Wan, Clint Eastwood, and Jon M. Chu.
Blackwood is a 20-year veteran of New Line and Warner Bros., playing a key role in the “The Conjuring” and “Lord of the Rings” franchises. She is respected for her business savvy and is popular on the lot for her strategic abilities and her sense of humor. Blackwood will continue to report directly to Emmerich.
“Toby is a distinguished entertainment executive whose track record speaks for itself,” said Sarnoff in a statement. “Since my arrival at Warner Bros., he has been an extraordinary partner. I am thrilled to have him by my side as we take Warner Bros. and Warner Media forward. When you look at the terrific performance of New Line over the years, it’s obvious that Carolyn’s formidable leadership skills have played an integral part in its success. I am excited for her to take on this larger Pictures Group role.”
Emmerich was effusive in his praise for Blackwood.
“I have been very fortunate to have someone of Carolyn’s caliber riding shotgun with me these past 15 years,” he said. “She is an exceptional executive with great instincts and a unique skill set that will serve the company well moving forward. I couldn’t be happier to have her take on these additional responsibilities.”