Veteran Hollywood executive Josh Goldstine has emerged as the frontrunner for the president of worldwide marketing post at Warner Bros. Pictures, multiple insiders told Variety.
Goldstine is already a consultant for the studio, where he is working on such titles as “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Goldstine’s hire would fill the vacancy left by former president Blair Rich who will exit the studio at the end of 2020.
Warner Bros. declined to comment on the matter. Representatives for Goldstine declined to comment.
The studio has not yet extended a formal offer to Goldstine. Others in line for the job include former 20th Century Studios marketing co-president Kevin Campbell, insiders said. Variety previously reported that the field also included Michael Moses, Universal’s top marketing executive, who sources say recently reupped his contract and will remain in his current job.
For Goldstine, this gig would be a return to a top studio following his dismissal from Universal Pictures in March 2018 following an investigation into alleged misconduct. Goldstine filed a wrongful termination suit as a result, and in January 2020 an arbitration judge ruled in his favor and awarded him a reported $20 million in damages. The specifics of the judgement are sealed.
Goldstine was introduced virtually to the Warner Bros. motion picture group last week, insiders said, a sign that he will become a fixture in the coming months. He’s also working with top filmmaking talent, including Denzel Washington, on his film “The Little Things.” Given the complexities of this role in the current marketplace, it’s possible a deal could not materialize.
Warner Bros. independently investigated the accusations against Goldstine at Universal prior to his consultancy, insiders at the company said, concluding his wrongful termination claims were valid. Warner Bros. Entertainment Chairman and CEO Ann Sarnoff has been “overly diligent” when it comes to executive hires, particularly with the publicity surrounding Goldstine’s termination at Universal, one insider familiar with her thinking said. The insider added that Goldstine “cleared that hurdle with Ann.”
Goldstine, regarded in the industry as a savvy marketer who knows how to cut a trailer, would enter the position at a tumultuous time. The studio has strained relationships with global movie theaters owners and star talent. An early December announcement from WB parent WarnerMedia that all of the studio’s 2021 films would debut concurrently in theaters and stream on HBO Max caused uproar in Hollywood.
Top directors employed by Warner Bros., including Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve, called the decision disrespectful and detrimental to creative ambition and the health of cineplexes around the world. Talent agency CAA publicly bashed the studio as self-dealing.
It’s apparent to both Sarnoff and Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group Chairman Toby Emmerich that their 2021 strategy needs to be rethought with urgency, sources say, though the team wants Rich to finish her tour of duty and announce her replacement in the new year.
Goldstine would be tasked with overseeing rollouts for the likes of “Dune,” starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, “The Matrix 4,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In The Heights,” and a reboot of “Suicide Squad,” to name a few.
Goldstine joined Universal in 2011 and helped oversee the campaigns for films including “Jurassic World,” “Despicable Me,” and the “Fast and Furious” franchise. Prior to that, he held a lengthy stint at Sony Pictures Entertainment as senior executive vice president of creative advertising. In 2001, Goldstine was reportedly suspended for 30 days without pay after a member of his department falsified positive film reviews for marketing campaigns.