Blair Rich is stepping down as Warner Bros. president of worldwide marketing at the end of the year.
Her departure comes amid the coronavirus pandemic that’s left the film industry in disarray, as well as a company-wide restructuring at WarnerMedia that’s resulted in multiple layoffs. The official line is that Rich exited on her own accord.
“It’s been my greatest honor to spend the first chapter of my career at Warner Bros., but after 23 years it’s time for something new,” Rich said in a statement. “I am grateful to have worked with so many brilliant executives and treasure the astonishing filmmakers and artists who fueled this job with passion in the pursuit of connecting the global audience to their remarkable spectacles and stories. More than anything, leading the most talented marketing team in the business has been the greatest privilege, and I know there is no limit to what they will continue to achieve in the future.”
Rich’s move is being positioned as amicable and of her own volition, and insiders close to the executive indicate that she had been looking to make a change. However, before coronavirus upended the movie business, Warner Bros. had reached out to prominent marketing executives at other studios to discuss the possibility of having them replace Rich. The rumor-mill in Hollywood has been churning for some time around Rich, with ample speculation that she was about to be ousted. There was also chatter that the relationship between Rich and Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich had deteriorated, though Emmerich gave a magnanimous statement when her exit was announced on Friday.
“Blair has had an amazing run during her tenure at Warner Bros. creating and executing a multitude of unique, compelling and award-winning campaigns,” Emmerich said in a statement. “She is a thoughtful leader who is well respected by her staff, peers and filmmakers. Blair has built a great team, and set a standard of excellence which will continue as her legacy here. We understand and are supportive of her desire to expand her horizons and wish her the best in what will undoubtedly be an exciting next phase.”
Rich began working at Warner Bros. when she was 22 and has been with the studio for over two decades. She was appointed head of worldwide marketing for Warner Bros. motion picture group and home entertainment in 2018, leading campaigns for movies including “Wonder Woman,” “Aquaman,” and “A Star Is Born.” During her tenure, she also worked on “The Dark Knight” trilogy and the “Harry Potter” franchise.
Rich had initially been highly regarded by executives at AT&T, Warner Bros.’ new parent company, because of her data-driven approach to marketing. She was also admired for the wit and edge that she brought to marketing materials for films like “The Meg,” “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Joker.” But Rich also received blame in some circles of the Warner Bros. lot for the lackluster box office results of recent Warner Bros. releases such as “The Goldfinch,” “Just Mercy,” “Birds of Prey” and “Doctor Sleep.”
It’s unclear who will replace Rich. Her exit comes on the heels of top lieutenant JP Richards’ announcement that he would be leaving the company next year.