Massive news from Warner Bros as the axe of David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros Discovery, has struck as Toby Emmerich is out as Chairman of the studio and replaced by MGM’s Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the story and revealed the duo – who will be co-chairs – will be running both Warners and sister studio New Line next month when Amazon releases them from their contacts.
This isn’t Zaslav booting Emmerich out of the door. He’s leaving the studio he’s run since 2017 with a golden handshake of a production deal at WBD.
“I have no doubt he will deliver even more exceptional, one-of-a-kind stories in his new capacity, and I look forward to continuing our working relationship for many years to come,” the WBD chief said in a memo to staff on Wednesday.
This axe comes with Zaslav wanting to create a new structure at the company and use the system Disney had under former CEO Bob Iger by having three verticals, each having its own leadership. They’ve even outright taken a page from the playbook by asking former Disney studio chairman Alan Horn to semi come out of retirement to serve as an adviser.
Brief history – Horn was WB President and had the likes of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Dark Knight trilogy under his tenure before getting cut loose in 2011 and deciding to retire. Before coming out of retirement to work at Disney from 2012-2021 and re-entered retirement.
So Hollywood, please let this man enjoy a peaceful life! He’s 79!
Warner Bros & New Line, DC and Animation will be three verticals. De Luca and Abdy will be controlling WB/NL, and until a new leader is found, the pair will also have DC under their wing, with current DC Films president Walter Hamada reporting to them. Finally, a new leader for the animation vertical has yet to be named.
This signals the expected end of Hamada’s reign as chief of DC. When looking back has done a decent job with the billion-dollar successes of Aquaman and Joker, Shazam is beloved, expanding the DCEU into R-rated with Birds of Prey and The Suicide Squad, and then you have the best comic book ever made (in my eyes), The Batman.
Hamada will likely get a similar golden handshake to Emmerich with a production deal at WBD.
Sorting out and getting DC to the top is Zaslav’s major issue at the studio as he wants a leader with one singular voice, similar to Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, to oversee film, TV and publishing.
He’s even asked Joker director Todd Phillips to act as an adviser for the time being, but THR state that while the pair have developed a rapport, even Phillips knows he’s not suited to that sort of job as he’s not an expert on the broader DC universe.
This seems to be the CEO’s next big move as getting De Luca and Abdy is a terrific hire as they’ve done great things at MGM on literally no money and ushered in the Amazon merger. They also have excellent relationships and expertise handling major franchises as they’ve worked alongside Eon on the James Bond movies.
Once in the role, their first mission is to get Christopher Nolan back in the family.
Exciting times are happening at Warner Bros, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.