Studio Marketing Chiefs Discuss the Theatrical vs. Netflix Oscars Debate

Read on: Variety.

On a day where a large part of the Fox marketing department was wiped out in the aftermath of the Disney merger, a group of marketing chiefs from other studios and streamers sat down at the Variety Entertainment Marketing Summit presented by Deloitte &…

Warner Bros Acquires Peter Jackson’s WWI Documentary ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ After BFI London Film Fest Premiere

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros. Pictures has acquired global distribution rights to They Shall Not Grow Old, the Peter Jackson-directed World War I documentary that premiered October 16 at the London Film Festival to rave reviews. The deal was made after the f…

DC’s Comic-Con Show Was a Declaration of Independence From Its Grimdark Recent Past

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

After a couple of rough years for major films based on DC Comics, Warner Bros. scored a triple crown on Saturday morning during its annual Hall H Comic-Con panel.

And if what we saw with the first looks at “Wonder Woman 1984,” “Shazam!” and “Aquaman” is any indication, DC is indeed now in good hands.

Yes, the footage demonstrates that misfires like “Justice League” aside, Warner Bros. is still in the business of exploiting DC’s rich library of characters and concepts. But most notable was the public debut of a bright, eye-popping new aesthetic and optimistic tone that feels like a definitive, if not outright stated, setting-aside of the gloom and grit of the Zack Snyder era.

Also Read: ‘Aquaman’ Makes Huge Splash at Comic-Con in First Trailer (Video)

For Comic-Con 2018, Warner Bros./DC appeared to discard at least part of its aversion to copying Marvel, with a good 10 minutes of exclusive-to-Hall H footage that was absolutely better than the trailers for “Aquaman” and “Shazam!” it released to the public Saturday morning. (Not that those trailers are anything to sneeze at.)

Notable highlights? Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth as vibrant, neon gold, godlike power. The way she saves a little girl that leans hard on cuteness without hurting the action that follows. “Aquaman” demonstrating Jason Momoa’s comic timing might compare favorably to Marvel beefcake Chris Hemsworth. Black Manta, in our mind one of the coolest-looking supervillains in recent memory. And action-scenes that feel like “Aquaman” director James Wan reminding you why he got this job in the first place.

You can read about that footage — a first look at “Wonder Woman 1984” and some extremely cool “Aquaman” clips — here and here, but in brief: The “Wonder Woman” footage was charming, funny, and cute, while the “Aquaman” footage planted its flag firmly in the “no, he’s actually cool” territory.

Also Read: DC’s ‘Shazam!’ Makes a ‘Big’ First Impression in Comic-Con Trailer (Video)

But even without that exclusive footage, “Wonder Woman” lassoed, “Shazam!” electrified, and “Aquaman” made a huge splash (sorry). It all feels like the end result of what former DC Entertainment president Geoff Johns exclusively told TheWrap a year ago: “Get to the essence of the character and make the movies fun. Just make sure that the characters are the characters with heart, humor, hope, heroics, and optimism at the base.”

The first Hall H of newly-installed President of Marketing Blair Rich (taking over for Sue Kroll, who stepped down in January) delivered the goods. And it likely gives newly-installed DC Chief Walter Hamada a lot more time to figure out what to do with Batman and Superman.

Also Read: Johnny Depp Surprises Comic-Con in Full ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Character

But don’t take our word for it. Based on the social media reaction, fans are clearly feeling the new colorful DC universe. Here’s a sample:

Just saw the first trailer which looks great and killed it with this audience. Way lighter than past DC films. Levi crushes it. #HallH #SDCC #Shazam

— Shawn Madden @SDCC (@shawnxmadden) July 21, 2018

I can’t get over how visually epic #Aquaman looks. The Star Wars/Game of Thrones underwater feel is so real

— Funnel Ferry Butter Bar (@ItsDavery) July 21, 2018

How DC/DCEU fandom will sleep tonight after the Shazam and Aquaman trailer knowing that they got served two fire teasers. pic.twitter.com/XQqqLuVVSO

— ANIME & COMICS (@Jrnotjnr) July 21, 2018

DC fans reaction after watching #Aquaman and #Shazam Trailers pic.twitter.com/Du4fM6VZIc

— DC Films ???? (@DCEUnited) July 21, 2018

Winning the Hall H crowd after the previous misfires was a tall order, but in the year where Marvel Studios sat out the big game, WB took the DC football in the end zone and scored three much needed touchdowns. Now all the films have to do is deliver.

Related stories from TheWrap:

DC’s ‘Shazam!’ Makes a ‘Big’ First Impression in Comic-Con Trailer (Video)

‘Aquaman’ Makes Huge Splash at Comic-Con in First Trailer (Video)

Comic-Con Goers Get a Gloriously ’80s Look at New ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Footage

Veteran Warner Bros Executive Veronika Kwan Vandenberg Steps Down After 30 Years

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Veteran Warner Bros. Pictures executive Veronika Kwan Vandenberg is stepping down as president of international distribution, the studio announced Monday.
She’ll transition to an advisory role before leaving the lot at the end of the year. Her su…

Michelle Slavich Named EVP of Global Publicity, Strategy at Warner Bros. Pictures

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Warner Bros. Pictures has appointed Michelle Slavich executive vice president of global publicity and strategy, the company said Thursday.

Slavich joins the studio from her post at Google as a communications head for YouTube, where she handled entertainment and music PR initiatives and corporate and creator matters.

“Michelle is a well-respected publicity executive with an impressive track record of leadership, innovation and strategic vision,” said Blair Rich, Warner Bros. president of worldwide marketing and home entertainment, to whom Slavich will report.

Also Read: Warner Bros Leadership Shake-Up: Toby Emmerich to Run Studio, Sue Kroll Steps Down

In her new role, Slavich will handle domestic and international PR across the studio and its imprint New Line Cinema. She’ll also work with marketing group management on campaign design and strategy for both individual titles and franchises like the DC Films superhero universe.

Slavich spent five years with Google and, in the last two years, her team launched over 50 publicity campaigns for the company’s YouTube Original series and movies. Slavich was also responsible for the launch of campaigns for YouTube TV and YouTube Red.

Prior to that she served as a VP at Universal Studios Home Entertainment, supervising over 200 publicity campaigns for Universal Pictures, Focus Features and NBC  She began her career at the Shoah Foundation, Steven Spielberg’s nonprofit organization dedicated to the recording of Holocaust survivor testimonies for educational use.

Read a memo sent to staff from Rich about Slavich’s hire, obtained by TheWrap:

I am very pleased to announce that we have hired Michelle Slavich to join our team at Warner Bros. as Executive Vice President, Global Publicity and Strategy. Reporting to me, Michelle will lead our Domestic and International publicity teams, serving as our lead publicity strategist on all our films.

Michelle is a well-respected publicity executive with an impressive track record of leadership, innovation and strategic vision. As we tackle the constantly evolving landscape of film publicity, she’s a great choice to lead the team and further our already-excellent publicity operations. She joins us from Google, where she most recently served as Head of Entertainment Communications for YouTube, overseeing the platform’s entertainment and music PR initiatives, as well as corporate and creator communications. Before that, Slavich served as Vice President, Publicity at Universal Studios Home Entertainment (USHE), and held executive positions at Rogers & Associates, PeopleSupport Inc., and Dreamworks/Amblin Entertainment.

Lance Volland will continue to head up our International publicity efforts working with the territories, while continuing to develop strategy with the teams here in Burbank; he will continue to work closely with Lynne Frank on publicity strategy and the intersection of these efforts with our larger International Marketing plans that are led by Lynne. The domestic publicity team will report directly to Michelle as well.

Michelle possesses incredible expertise and experience in publicity and strategy and I am very excited to have her join our team – and I know that once you’ve had a chance to meet and work with her, you will agree how lucky we are to have her join our company.

I look forward to introducing you to Michelle when she starts on May 29.

Thank you,
Blair

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Warner Bros. Taps Google’s Michelle Slavich As EVP Global Publicity & Strategy

Read on: Deadline.

Michelle Slavich has been named Executive Vice President, Global Publicity and Strategy at Warner Bros. Pictures, it was announced today by Blair Rich, President, Worldwide Marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures Group and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Slavich will report to Rich and starts work on May 29.
In this new role, Slavich will oversee domestic and international publicity and work proactively with her teams as well as the studio’s marketing senior brass to develop…

Dwayne Johnson Details Experience with Homelessness at LAFH Awards

Read on: Variety.

Los Angeles Family Housing presented Dwayne Johnson with its highest honor: the Inspiration Award. The actor accepted the trophy Thursday night during an emotional ceremony where victims of homelessness, including Johnson himself, shared their stories. Members of Hollywood and other distinguished guests gathered at The Lot in West Hollywood for the awards dinner, hosted by […]

Warner Bros Publicity Exec Juli Goodwin Exits After 18 Years

Read on: Deadline.

Juli Goodwin, Warner Bros Pictures’ EVP Domestic Publicity, is exiting the company after almost 18 years. The news came today via a memo to staff, and an announcement from WB’s Worldwide Marketing President Blair Rich.
Goodwin was on the domestic publicity team helped land Oscar Best Picture wins for the studio’s Argo and Million Dollar Baby, and several other noms including this year for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Over her career she worked on campaigns for films…

Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara: ‘We Face Headwinds in Every One of Our Businesses’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara made moves on Tuesday to stabilize his film studio against an uncertain $85 billion merger with AT&T, but his company’s challenges are not just in media consolidation, he told TheWrap.

“We face headwinds in every single one of our businesses. Each are more competitive than they were yesterday,” Tsujihara told TheWrap shortly after promoting Toby Emmerich from studio president and chief creative officer to chairman of the motion picture group.

He also upped executives Blair Rich and Ron Sanders to key marketing and distribution roles left vacant by a departing Sue Kroll, a 23-year studio veteran who will become a producer on the lot from her SVP marketing role.

Also Read: Warner Bros Leadership Shake-Up: Toby Emmerich to Run Studio, Sue Kroll Steps Down

“The key thing we need to do is maintain our cultural relevance. I don’t think it’s healthy the way the business is becoming so binary — either so successful or so challenging,” Tsujihara said of the industry’s reliance on tentpole films like the superhero fare that brought Warner Bros. nearly 19 percent of the theatrical market last year, second only to Disney.

“As an industry, we need to continue to create a balanced slate of all types of movies and all genres. Current economics make that challenging, but requires you to have fresh, high-quality movies, because of television and all the other options,” he said.

He’s got the right hire in Emmerich, who made a name for himself as a producer and procurer of relevant and innovative low-to-mid-budget genre titles that return big. Last year’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “It” starring Bill Skarsgard made a staggering $700 million worldwide on a $35 million budget.

Warner Bros. posted a reported an all-time high profit of a $1.7 billion last year thanks to the DC Films unit (“Wonder Woman,” “Justice League”) and a savvy extension of the Harry Potter universe (“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”).

Also Read: DC Films Shakeup: Warner Bros Promotes Walter Hamada to Production Head of Unit

The executive ceded this that this success came at a time of “more vertical integration than ever before.”

Tsujihara has been one of the most outspoken media executives when it comes to evolving consumer taste — specifically around the theatrical release window, virtually all studios are warily trying to shorten the time between a film’s debut in theaters and home entertainment or streaming availability.

TheWrap asked if conversations were still going on between the studio and American theater owners, who are vehemently opposed to reducing the current 90-day exclusivity period they enjoy with new releases.

“Shrinking windows closer? I can’t say that we are,” Tsujihara said,  adding that the average consumer does not distinguish a theatrical release from a pay TV window or an iTunes debut these days.

“We’ve got to make it more seamless for consumers to find what they want when they want it,” he said.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Warner Bros Leadership Shake-Up: Toby Emmerich to Run Studio, Sue Kroll Steps Down

‘Animaniacs’: Hulu, Warner Bros. Partner on ’90s Cartoon Reboot

DC Films Shakeup: Warner Bros Promotes Walter Hamada to Production Head of Unit

Warner Bros Leadership Shake-Up: Toby Emmerich to Run Studio, Sue Kroll Steps Down

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

In a significant studio shakeup under the shadow of a looming merger, Warner Bros. on Tuesday promoted Toby Emmerich to chairman of the motion picture group, with veteran marketing-distribution head Sue Kroll stepping aside to a production deal.

Emmerich will now effectively lead the major studio, allowing Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara to step back from day-to-day management.

Meanwhile, Kroll will transition into a three-year producing deal starting in April with her duties running distribution and marketing handed to two other veteran Warner Bros. executives.

Also Read: How ‘Justice League’ Became a ‘Frankenstein’ (Exclusive)

Blair Rich becomes president of worldwide marketing, reporting to Emmerich. Ron Sanders, previously head of home entertainment, becomes president of worldwide distribution, reporting to both Emmerich and Tsujihara.

The shakeup happens as telecom giant AT&T attempts to complete its $85 billion acquisition of studio parent Time Warner. But that merger has been thrown into question by a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice under antitrust provisions. A trial is expected in March.

Kroll will stay on to oversee awards campaigns and the release of Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” which comes out on March 30. Kroll will take on producing duties on two high profile films, Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” and a long-in-the-works adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s novel “Motherless Brooklyn.”

Also Read: The ‘Justice League’ That Might Have Been: We’ve Seen the Script (Exclusive)

Sue Kroll

The move is the biggest shakeup at the studio since a triumvirate structure was put in place in 2015, with Emmerich, Kroll and Greg Silverman put in charge of the studio. Silverman left in December 2016.

Kroll is one of the most experienced executives in Hollywood, having been at Warner Bros for more than 20 years. Rich has been her deputy and is seen as a rising talent at the studio.

Tsujihara has another year on his contract, and his future at the studio is likely dependent on whether the merger with AT&T happens. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is expected to step down when and if that occurs.

Regardless, Tsujihara will step back from day to day operations of running the studio in favor of Emmerich, whose sleeper hit “It” was one of the most profitable movies of last year, taking in $700 million worldwide on a $35 million budget.

Also Read: Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara MIA at CinemaCon Presentation

“We need to constantly adapt our operations to stay ahead of [these] changes, while preserving our creative excellence,” Tsujihara said in a statement. “Bringing together film and home entertainment marketing and distribution will allow us to strategically manage film titles through their entire lifecycle. We’ll be better able to respond to consumer demand, while still creating unique theatrical and home entertainment experiences, and provide increased benefits to our filmmaking, exhibition and retail partners.”

Emmerich said, “I’m humbled and honored to have this opportunity to help continue Warner Bros. Pictures’ legacy of creativity, innovation and excellence. We will remain focused on being the first choice for the world’s best filmmakers, whether they’re making their first film or their 34th. “

In interviews for his bombshell book, “Fire and Fury,” author Michael Wolff has cited White House advisers as saying the AT&T merger with Time Warner is “never going to happen.”

But others have said that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson recently went out of his way to praise President Trump’s tax bill, citing the creation of thousands of jobs for his company. Some observers have suggested that this was an olive branch intended to facilitate a settlement with the Department of Justice.

Warner Bros. came in second for film studio market share in 2017, thanks to the success of “Wonder Woman” and New Line’s sleeper horror hit “It.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

DC Films Shakeup: Warner Bros Promotes Walter Hamada to Production Head of Unit

AT&T, Time Warner Extend Merger Agreement – Again

Warner Bros. Crosses $2 Billion at Domestic Box Office for First Time Since 2009

Bart & Fleming: How Donald Trump’s Football Fumbles Killed USFL; Why The Movie Star Is Dying; Studio Marketing Moves

Read on: Deadline.

Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. worked together for two decades aDaily Variety. In this occasional column, two old friends get together and grind their axes, mostly on the movie business.
FLEMING: Could President Trump really be this tone deaf? After antagonizing the paranoid Sony-hacking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he starts the battle that shook up football Sunday throughout the National Football League. It’s hard to imagine the president could be this blissfully…