Warner Bros. Promotes One Executive as Another Departs


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Toby Emmerich, left, with Warner Bros. executives Greg Silverman and Sue Kroll in 2014. Mr. Emmerich will take over as president and chief content officer.

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Emily Berl for The New York Times

LOS ANGELES — Warner Bros. streamlined its film operation on Wednesday, consolidating filmmaking power under one executive and parting ways with another, a move that comes after a highly profitable but creatively inconsistent stretch for the studio.

Toby Emmerich, a longtime manager at New Line Cinema, a Warner division focused on low-to-mid budget releases, will take over as president and chief content officer for Warner Bros. Pictures Group on Jan. 1, the studio said. In that newly created position, Mr. Emmerich, 53, will oversee an annual slate that includes five to eight films from New Line and 10 to 12 films from Warner’s primary label.

Stepping down as part of the restructuring is Greg Silverman, who served as president of creative development and production for Warner Bros. Pictures since 2013. Mr. Silverman will start a technology-related entertainment venture with backing from Warner. In a statement, Mr. Silverman thanked Warner’s chief executive, Kevin Tsujihara, for his “incredible generosity” in extending support “toward my desire to start my own company.”

Mr. Emmerich’s promotion will allow Mr. Tsujihara, Warner’s chief executive, to spend less time directly managing the film division, where he has sometimes had to step in to adjudicate conflicts. On top of running Warner, which also has vast television and video game operations, Mr. Tsujihara now has a merger to focus on: AT&T is seeking regulatory approval for an $85 billion takeover of the studio’s parent, Time Warner.

Leadership changes in Hollywood almost always come when profits are scarce, though that is not the case at Warner, which is set to have one of its most profitable years ever, according to financial filings. Warner, which last month released “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” to blockbuster results, is perennially Hollywood’s No. 1 or No. 2 studio based on domestic ticket sales. So far this year, Warner, with 18 percent market share, is running second to Walt Disney Studios, which has about 24 percent of the market, according to the database Box Office Mojo.

But the operation formerly run by Mr. Silverman, an affable executive with a tendency to give directors a wide berth, has also delivered films of irregular quality — something that did not matter so much in the past, when consumers had fewer entertainment options, but a shortcoming that is now considered unacceptable, especially as studios like Warner increasingly rely on sequels.

Mr. Silverman had celebrated movies, including “Fantastic Beasts,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Lego Movie.” But he also oversaw numerous critical clunkers, including “Pan” and the superhero movies “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.” While Mr. Tsujihara has been patient, in May he reduced Mr. Silverman’s role in superhero film production, giving oversight instead to Jon Berg and Geoff Johns.

The pipeline that Mr. Silverman leaves behind includes potential hits like “The Lego Batman Movie,” “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” and “Ready Player One.” His departure has been widely expected, in part because he has told colleagues for several months that he would like to flex his entrepreneurial muscles.

Mr. Emmerich has had misses of his own, with this weekend’s “Collateral Beauty,” a modestly budgeted drama starring Will Smith, likely among them. Over all, however, his New Line has been on a roll, serving up critical and commercial hits like “The Conjuring 2,” “Lights Out,” “Central Intelligence” and “Creed.” Mr. Emmerich was also responsible for running the big-budget “Hobbit” series for Warner.

In a statement, Mr. Tsujihara noted that Mr. Emmerich has “a track-record of producing hit films from all genres at every budget.”

Mr. Emmerich will share greenlight power for the studio’s entire film lineup with Mr. Tsujihara, although a committee of executives will continue to have input.

Global film marketing and distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures Group will continue to be run by Sue Kroll, a tour-de-force executive whose innovative campaigns have propped up movies like “Suicide Squad.” Ms. Kroll will report to Mr. Tsujihara.

Day-to-day operations at New Line will fall to Mr. Emmerich’s longtime lieutenants, Carolyn Blackwood and Richard Brener, both of whom have strong ties to filmmakers.

Mr. Emmerich is the brother of the actor Noah Emmerich, known for his role on the FX series “The Americans.” His father was André Emmerich, an influential Manhattan art dealer. He started his show business career at Atlantic Records in 1987, ultimately joining New Line in the 1990s to work on soundtracks.

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