Kevin Tsujihara is exiting his role as chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, a job he’s held for six years.
“It is in the best interest of WarnerMedia, Warner Bros., our employees and our partners for Kevin to step down as Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros.,” said WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey on Monday. The executive did not name a replacement for Tsujihara.
Stankey added, “Kevin has contributed greatly to the studio’s success over the past 25 years and for that we thank him. Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the Company’s leadership expectations and could impact the Company’s ability to execute going forward.”
In a memo Tsujihara sent to Warner staffers today, he said that after reflecting “on how the attention on my past actions might impact the company’s future,” he had decided to step down. He added that “it has become clear that my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success. The hard work of everyone within our organization is truly admirable, and I won’t let media attention on my past detract from all the great work the team is doing.”
Tsujihara’s departure comes as John Stankey, named CEO of WarnerMedia in 2017, puts his stamp on the company in the wake of the AT&T’s $85 billion to $105 billion acquisition of Time Warner,
Under Tsujihara’s tenure, Warners had struggled to turn out DC superhero movies that matched the success of Disney’s Marvel label until it hit upon a winning formula with 2017’s Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, which took in $821.8 million worldwide. It then enjoyed an even bigger success with last year’s Aquaman, directed by James Wan and starring Jason Momoa, which has grossed $1.1 billion worldwide, eclipsing all of Warners’ earlier superhero movies, including those in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
Tsujihara is also credited with courting J.K. Rowling for a series of Harry Potter spinoff movies. The first installment, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, grossed $814 million in 2016, although its 2018 sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald stalled at $653.4 million. A third installment is slated for 2021.
Tsujihara’s memo follows:
Over the past week and a half, I have been reflecting on how the attention on my past actions might impact the company’s future. After lengthy introspection, and discussions with John Stankey over the past week, we have decided that it is in Warner Bros.’ best interest that I step down as Chairman and CEO.
I love this company and the people that make it so great. I’ve been honored to head this organization and work alongside all of its talented employees over the past 25 years. Together we’ve built this studio into an unequivocal leader in the industry.
However, it has become clear that my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success. The hard work of everyone within our organization is truly admirable, and I won’t let media attention on my past detract from all the great work the team is doing.
I am overwhelmed and grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from colleagues and industry partners during this difficult time.
Again, I am so proud of the great work that you do every day to make Warner Bros. the gold standard in our industry. It has been a pleasure to work alongside each and every one of you, and I wish you all the absolute best.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Warner Bros.
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