Jason Kilar and Ann Sarnoff Leaving WarnerMedia As Discovery Merger Is Close To Completion

As the Discovery/WarnerMedia merger is set to be completed by April 11, though it’s possible the deal could be announced this coming Friday (8 April), changes have already begun at the studio for incoming CEO David Zaslav.

Variety has revealed that three members have left WarnerMedia just before the $43 million merger. They are WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, Studios and Networks Group Chairman and CEO Ann Sarnoff and HBO Max Executive Vice President and General Manager Andy Forssell.

The first domino to fall was Kilar, and it was expected. Since Zaslav is taking over the CEO position once the company of Warner Bros Discovery is officially announced with Kilar confirming his resignation.

In his letter, the WarnerMedia chief came across as incredibly grateful and sincere and if you want to read the full letter, check out the Variety story here.

Then six hours later, Sarnoff was next to step down as the US trade revealed that Zaslav was completely scrapping the role, a source told them. This showcases Zaslev’s want to streamline the studio, which will most likely mean the Warner Bros Chairman will deal directly with the CEO.

Her statement to employees was humbled and pride in bringing WB, Turner and HBO networks into the new era. You can read it here.

Despite what one fan group thinks this is their win, it couldn’t be far from the truth. This was simply a business move that had been expected since the back end of 2021. I wrote a piece last year highlighting Sarnoff’s role won’t exist post-merger.

Meanwhile, a few minutes later, Forrssell was confirmed to be exiting the company, but unlike Sarnoff’s departure, Zaslav will bring in his own person to be EVP and GM of HBO Max as their main present job with to bring both this streamer and Discovery+ together.

Suppose the merger is finalised and Zaslav is in control by Friday/Monday. In that case, this is likely to be the start of the changes as the upcoming Warner Bros Discovery CEO will want to move quickly so as not to shock the markets and make the transition as smoothly as possible.

From a movie perspective, I can see both Warner Bros Chairman Toby Emmerich and DC Films President Walter Hamada staying, with the former having a stronger base to stay.

As Hamada signed a contract extension at the beginning of 2021 and will run out in 2023. Plus, under his stewardship, he has made two billion DC movies in Aquaman and Joker, Shazam is a beloved film and was profitable similar to Birds of Prey, they just weren’t as much as they hoped, but had lower budgets.

Additionally, The Batman will likely end as a massive success for WB, ending with $700/$800 million box office to kick off a hopefully successful year for the studio.

Emmerich, on the other hand, has a contract until the end of 2022. Reportedly, he and Zaslav have a friendship that could work in his favour as replacing him on the back of a hopeful double win of The Batman and Fantastic Beasts.

However, we’ll have to wait for a couple of weeks to see if The Secrets of Dumbledore was a win at the box office.

I believe Warner Bros will have a new chairman by 2023 as Emmerich has been in the role since 2019 and has been with the studio for over 20 years; maybe it’s time for everyone to have a fresh start.

Suppose Emmerich does depart; the idea candidate is currently a free agent in former Paramount Pictures President Emma Watts. She would’ve been disappointed and pissed off on missing out on becoming the studio’s Chair and CEO to Brian Robbins and has the CV for handling and creating franchises.

Whatever happens, Zaslav has brought exciting change and will do everything possible to make Warner Bros Discovery the kings of Hollywood.

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