Warner Bros. is announcing a major change in its leadership, as Toby Emmerich is being promoted to the studio’s chairman, and longtime executive Sue Kroll transitions into a producing role. The move comes as Warner Bros. has struggled to fully utilize their franchise properties, most notably the DC superhero films.
Warner Bros. is actually coming off a fairly strong year, as Wonder Woman and Dunkirk were both box office hits and critical darlings that are major players in this year’s awards season. But Justice League was a box office disappointment, and that film’s shortcomings – as well as the DCEU’s issues at large – have been laid at the feet of Warner’s top brass, who have lacked a clear vision for their comic book properties and have continually played second fiddle to Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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The changes at the top many have been predicting are now being confirmed. Per a report from Variety, WB president and chief content officer Toby Emmerich is being promoted to chairman, with longtime president of worldwide marketing and distribution Sue Kroll stepping down to take on a producing role. Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara will reportedly be less involved in the day to day operations of the company’s films.
This is significant news, and likely a step in the right direction. Emmerich is a widely respected executive, having previously overseen a highly successful run at New Line, where he oversaw franchises like The Conjuring and Lord of the Rings. Emmerich’s primary task will be getting DC’s cinematic universe back on track. He’ll be working with recently announced DC Films president Walter Hamada and DC chief content officer Geoff Johns, as well as several other New Line alumni like Aquaman director James Wan and Shazam! helmer David F. Sandberg.
More broadly, Warner Bros. will have to prove they can compete on equal footing with Disney’s ever expanding film empire. The home of Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars recently acquired Fox, which means the X-Men will soon be part of their daunting stable of properties. Warner Bros. is no slouch in this department, boasting not only the massive DC universe, but also Harry Potter and LEGO. Warner Bros.’ recent issues seem to stem more from a lack of clear leadership than a lack of potential. It will be a tall task for Emmerich to get Warner Bros.’ franchises back on track, but he has the resources and talent pool to make it work if he has the vision.
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