Kelly Oxford-Directed ‘Pink Skies Ahead’ Greg Silverman’s First Stampede Pic

Read on: Deadline.

Ex-Warner Bros president Greg Silverman has set Pink Skies Ahead as the first film to be made through his Stampede label. Kelly Oxford wrote the script and will make her feature directing debut, and Jessica Barden will star.
Pink Skies Ahead tells the …

Greg Silverman’s  Stampede Acquires Ragnar Jónasson’s  ’The Darkness’, Launching International Arm

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Stampede, the indie media company founded by former Warner Bros Pictures President Greg Silverman, has acquired bestselling author Ragnar Jonasson’s Icelandic thriller The Darkness and will adapt it as a local-language series. The comp…

‘Dance Dance Revolution’ Movie In The Works At Stampede; Ups Cara Fano To Director Of Development

Read on: Deadline.

Stampede, Greg Silverman’s Stampede announced the promotion of Cara Fano to Director of Development, Film & TV. Under her supervision, the company is set to produce a movie based on popular video game, Dance Dance Revolution. The project will explo…

Greg Silverman’s Stampede Books Upcoming Sci-Fi Novel ‘Devastation Class’ By Glen Zipper & Elaine Mongeon

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Stampede Ventures, the indie media company formed by former Warner Bros president Greg Silverman, continues to scoop up book deals for its growing slate. It has just acquired movie rights to Devastation Class, an unpublished sci-fi novel co-…

Stampede Taps JP Sarni As WW Content Acquisitions Head; Snaps Up Novels ‘Revenge Of Magic’ & ‘Star-Crossed’

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Greg Silverman’s Stampede has hired JP Sarni as Head of Worldwide Content Acquisitions, a role in which he’ll negotiate deals and oversee the development of all IP for the film & TV production label, working closely with the …

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…

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

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Seth Rogen To Play Walter Cronkite In ‘Newsflash;’ David Gordon Green-Helmed Pic On CBS JFK Assassination Coverage

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Seth Rogen is attached to play iconic CBS newsman Walter Cronkite in Newsflash, a Ben Jacoby-scripted drama that Stronger director David Gordon Green will direct next year. The film takes place on November 22, 1963, the day President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Texas. It was that day that television network news came of age, and Cronkite became the most trusted TV newsman voice of America, even if he wasn’t first to announce the president had died (NBC…

How ‘Justice League’ Became a ‘Frankenstein’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Justice League” had a lot of enemies: a looming corporate merger, a family tragedy, an internal clash between light and dark. But its greatest enemy was time.

Few people are happy with the finished project, which one insider called “a Frankenstein” made of the assembled parts favored by rotating executives and directors. But several people who spoke to TheWrap said the decision to keep the film’s Nov. 17 release date was a mistake — one as as plain as Superman’s face.

Specifically, the weird, computer-generated look of his face — just one byproduct of the film’s rushed schedule.  Here, according to insiders, is the story of how “Justice League” just ran out of time.

The Dark Knight

Despite the assembled might of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and The Flash, “Justice League” had Warner Bros.’ worst opening for a DC Comics-based in years. It’s easy to forget now, but the disappointment of “Justice League” began with success.

Also Read: Let’s Try to Piece Together What Zack Snyder’s Version of ‘Justice League’ Was Like

When Christopher Nolan completed his celebrated “Dark Knight” trilogy, a hyperreal re-imagining of Batman, Warner Bros. hoped he would turn next to rebooting Superman.

Burt Nolan opted out, instead supporting Zach Snyder to direct the Superman reboot “Man of Steel.” Like the Snyders, Nolan and his wife, producer Emma Thomas, made films together. They were about the same age. They got along.

Snyder seemed like a good fit. He had directed the comics adaptations “Watchmen” and the surprise hit “300,” the latter of which was inspired by the work of Frank Miller, who reinvented Batman with the 1980s stories “Year One” and “The Dark Knight Returns.”

Snyder appears to have enjoyed as much freedom in his vision of the DC Universe as Nolan had enjoyed with his Batman films. He answered to Greg Silverman, the Warner Bros. executive who guided hits like “The Dark Knight,” “The Hangover” and “300.” In 2013, Silverman was named Warner Bros. president, reporting directly to Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara.

An individual with deep knowledge of the studio said Silverman didn’t read offer notes on Snyder’s scripts. Another described Silverman’s attitude as “remarkably laissez faire.”

Also Read: ‘Justice League’ Do-Over? Petition for a Zack Snyder Cut Hits 100,000 Signatures

These qualities might have been praised if Snyder’s films were universally loved: Executives are usually criticized for meddling too much, not too little. No one complained that Nolan had too much freedom on “The Dark Knight.”

Silverman declined to comment.

Man of Steel

Snyder’s nihilistic tone may have made sense for Batman, a vigilante driven by grim determination. But many fans found it jarring for Superman, a character known for hope and optimism. When Superman broke an enemy’s neck at the end of 2013’s “Man of Steel,” many purists felt that Snyder had misunderstood the hero entirely, believing he would never stoop to the level of his evil adversaries.

The sequel, 2016’s “Batman v Superman,” was even darker. One insider called it “the darkest of the dark of the dark.” What could be darker than Superman killing? How about Superman dying? “Batman v Superman” ended with him in the grave.

“Batman v Superman” had scored the second-highest opening of 2016, behind only “Captain America: Civil War.” But the buzz was bad: After its $166 million opening weekend, second weekend totals dropped 69 percent to $51 million. Soon after, “Suicide Squad” disappointed with another grim, dystopian vision of the DC Universe.

“This just goes to show you how much the brand has eroded since ‘Batman v Superman.’ That was supposed to be the precursor to something even more momentous, but that never ended up happening because of how badly ‘BvS’ performed. The word of mouth has just been toxic,” said Jeff Bock, Senior Box Office Analyst at Exhibitor Relations.

Also Read: ‘Aquaman:’ Director James Wan Says His Film Won’t Copy the ‘Justice League’ Take on Atlantis

After the disappointment of “Batman v Superman,” the individual with deep knowledge of Warner Bros. said studio executives repeatedly went to Silverman to suggest removing Snyder from “Justice League.” The individual said DC President Jon Berg was sent to the set for the better part of a year to oversee the production out of budget concerns.

Warner Bros. declined comment for this story.

The insider said Silverman was “quite harsh on Zach” when “Batman v Superman” underwhelmed audiences. But he didn’t fire him: Removing a director is a major distraction on any film, and it would be a sign of serious trouble on a tentpole designed to support a larger universe.

“They were already in deep prep on ‘Justice League’ and it would have cost a fortune. There’s stickiness to a director because there’s so much cost to unstick him,” the insider said. “Warners is a studio that almost to a fault always wants to project strength.”

Asked who ultimately decided to keep Snyder on, the insider said: “It wasn’t Greg’s decision. This was all happening on a Tsujihara level.”

In December, Silverman stepped down stepped down as president of Warner Bros. Pictures, and was replaced by Toby Emmerich.

Light v. Dark

This is the part comic-book fans probably might not care about, but it’s crucial: In October of 2016, Warner Bros. announced plans to merge with AT&T, and the companies began sizing up each other’s assets and liabilities.

Moving the date of a tentpole film like “Justice League” could have projected weakness. A hit would project strength. And Warner Bros. expected a hit.

The studio had become vocal about wanting “Justice League” to have a light tone, like the one director Joss Whedon had struck for rival Disney’s Marvel Universe blockbuster superhero team-up “The Avengers.” Whedon was enlisted, with Snyder’s blessing, to help add some levity and fun to the script for “Justice League.”

In the spring, while Snyder and Warner Bros. were engaged in a push-pull over the right amount of light and darkness in “Justice League,” true tragedy struck.

Zack and Deborah Snyder’s daughter died by suicide.

At first, an insider said, the director’s plan was that “work was gonna be kind of a refuge.”

But then it wasn’t. Snyder was under added pressure because Warner Bros. was embracing “the lighter, different, more confectionary ideas of Joss,” the insider said. “It stopped being a good situation on any level.”

And so in May, Snyder left “Justice League” to focus on his family, and, eventually, a more personal project, the film “Last Photograph,” with Warners’ support.

And Whedon took over the project.

But time was running out.

The Merger and the Mustache

Soon after Snyder left “Justice League,” Warner Bros. got another sign that its movies didn’t have to be bleak: Patty Jenkin’s “Wonder Woman” shook off Snyder’s violent, monochromatic vision of the DC Universe with a fun, uplifting lead character, winning critical praise and performing above expectations at the box office.

Whedon had to choose between continuing Snyder’s vision or lightening up “Justice League” as much as he could.

Or at least, as much as he could by Nov. 17.

Scheduling was intense: “Superman” actor Henry Cavill, on loan from shooting “Mission: Impossible 6” for Paramount, was not allowed to shave a mustache he had grown for that film, so “Justice League” was forced to remove it digitally. Fans would later complain that his face looked weird.

One executive told TheWrap Tsujihara and Emmerich “wanted to preserve their bonuses they would be paid before the merger,” and were worried that “if they pushed the movie, then their bonuses would have been pushed to the following year and they might not still be at the studio.”

Another knowledgable insider said that at the highest levels of Warner Bros., bonuses are awarded “for making good decisions.” If delaying a film is the right decision, an executive could be rewarded for it.


The final version of “Justice League,” a compromise between Snyder’s vision and Whedon’s, left few people completely satisfied. (TheWrap’s Phil Owen recently studied the finished film to guess how much of the final vision belonged to each director.)

“I think Warner Bros. biggest misstep was not pushing the release of ‘Justice League’ when Snyder had to step aside,” the executive told TheWrap.

More than 100,000 fans agreed, by signing a petition calling on Warners to release Snyder’s version of the film.

But audiences weren’t wild about Snyder’s last pure Snyder film, either. For now, his rein over DC movies is over.

Matt Reeves is currently writing and steering “The Batman,” Jenkins recently closed a deal to return on the “Wonder Woman” sequel, to be set during the Cold War, and “Shazam” is under the guidance of “Lights Out” filmmaker David F. Sandberg.

Who can lead Warner Bros. out of the dark waters?

Aquaman, the studio hopes. The film, directed by James Wan, is due for release next December.

8 Potential Brad Grey Replacements at Paramount Pictures (Photos)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

With Brad Grey’s future at Paramount up in the air, here are 8 replacements for the CEO/Chairman position

Jeff Robinev

The hard-charging movie exec made a splashy deal with Singapore’s Fosun International for his label Studio 8. While a planned 24 films have not come to fruition, Robinov is decisive — and largely speculated to be in the running for Michael Lynton’s chairman job at Sony.

Jim Gianopulos

The former Fox Film chief is perhaps the hottest free agent in town. His years of experience and position as Hollywood elder statesman makes him a prime target to run a studio — and he reportedly already has a job offer from the Dalian Wanda Group top head their new mega-studio WQS.

Janice Min

It’s a very far left-field choice, but the word around town is that Min is gunning for a Hollywood job now that she’s stepping down as Co-President of The Hollywood Report-Billboard. While she has little-to-no experience with filmed entertainment, she certainly has the taste, the proximity to executives of this caliber and certainly knows how to spend cash on premium content.

John Landgraf

Sure, it’s television, but Landgraf has made a stunning success out of Fox cable property FX. Couple that with his scholarly knowledge of storytelling and his preachy, must-see lectures on the content bubble, and he’s a safe bet to run a successful ship and innovate at the same time.

Greg Silverman

Silverman by no stretch of the imagination left Warner Bros. in a cloud of triumph, but the studio’s troubled DC Comics division can hardly be blamed solely on the longtime movie executive. Silverman has experience in both development and overseeing global production, and has seen great success on film franchises without spandex and capes — like the raunchy “Hangover” series.

Bryan Burk

Another interesting possibility is Burk, producing partner to J.J. Abrams. Their Bad Robot label has become of vital importance to the studio, as the pair have a hand in everything from “Mission: Impossible” to “Star Trek” tentpoles, and will be developing a film-a-year movie universe in Abrams’ original “Cloverfield” series.

Peter Liguori

The former Tribune honcho is seeking a Hollywood job, multiple insiders have previously told TheWrap and could be an easy fit for Grey’s empty chair.

Andrew Gumpert

Gumpert is a well-liked and effective executive who just joined Paramount in November after leaving Sony. He might not have the lay of the land yet, but Gumpert is more than capable of such a high-ranking job.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Brad Grey in Talks to Step Aside as Paramount CEO (Exclusive)

Brad Grey Is Not Losing His Job, Tom Dooley and Shari Redstone Say

Brad Grey Renews as Paramount Chairman Through 2020

Warner Bros Shuffle: Ailing Studio Needs a DC Superhero in Toby Emmerich, Say Insiders

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara’s decision to replace motion picture president Greg Silverman with executive Toby Emmerich is an overdue response to an increasingly urgent creative crisis at the studio, multiple insiders told TheWrap.

In the shadow of a pending merger with his corporate owners and AT&T, Tsujihara named New Line President Emmerich — with whom he’ll share greenlight power — to the top job on Wednesday, three years after Silverman stepped into the role.

It began to look like Silverman’s days were numbered in May, when Tsujihara removed him as supervisor of the DC Comics film slate. The Warner Bros. property’s success is vital to the studio, said two individuals close to the lot in Burbank.

Also Read: Inside the Fight for ‘Suicide Squad’: Director Pressured to Lighten Dark Vision

The decision came after March’s “Batman v. Superman” — Zach Snyder’s DC superhero mashup with Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill — grossed a below-expectation $330 million at the domestic box office on a reported $250 million budget.

Warner Bros said executives were not available to comment Wednesday.

Tsujihara created a standalone unit for the DC Films banner and appointed WB movie executive Jon Berg to run it alongside DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, who Tsujihara promoted to vice president under division president Diane Nelson.

“It’s no secret the studio wanted better critical reception on the DC properties,” another person close to Warner Bros said.

Also Read: Michael Shannon Admits He Fell Asleep While Watching ‘Batman v Superman’

The insider specifically referred to the August under-performer “Suicide Squad,” a David Ayer film that featured an all-villain cast. It rated 27 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, was panned by many fans, and fetched $325 million in the U.S. on a $175 million budget. The studio heads and director had a knock-down, drag-out struggle over its content.

TheWrap wrote extensively about the fight for “Suicide Squad,” which saw stars like Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Viola Davis participate in reshoots. Tsujihara and Silverman effectively locked Ayer out of his own editing room in attempts to deliver a lighter, commercial hit.

It wasn’t all bad news for Silverman — he’s credited with delivering a hit franchise based on the Lego toys, that started with ‘The Lego Movie” in 2014. Silverman brought that home for a $60 million budget to a nearly $260 million box office return, led by the voice of  a pre-“Jurassic World” Chris Pratt. Upcoming spinoffs include “The Lego Batman Movie” starring Will Arnett, and a film based on the Lego Ninjago toys.

The onus now falls on the well-liked Emmerich to stabilize DC projects like Jason Momoa’s upcoming “Aquaman” and a standalone Batman film to be directed by Affleck. DC Films are dated through 2020. Warner Bros. also has the just-launched Harry Potter-universe extension “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

Also Read: Warner Bros. to Acquire Machinima

After Silverman’s first year in control, Warner Bros. slid from first to third in studio marketshare, with 14.4 percent, sliding again the following year with 13.9 percent. The studio bounced back this year thanks to its superhero stable and currently sits in second place with 17.8 percent, though it’s well behind leader Disney’s 24.2 percent — despite having more than twice as many releases.

In financial decline for three consecutive years, Warner Bros.’ struggles have had an impact on parent Time Warner Inc.’s bottom line even as its cable networks have thrived.

Warner Bros. has earned in $9.2 billion in revenue and $1.2 billion in profit over the first nine months, slightly better $1.1 billion in profit it earned on $9.7 billion revenue in the same period a year before. However, the studio’s profit margin remains low — and hasn’t been higher than 11 percent in the last three full years.

Also Read: Big Studios Consider the Unthinkable: Home Viewing of Movies Two Weeks After They Hit Theaters

By way of comparison, Disney’s studio entertainment division had profit margins of 27 percent and 21 percent in fiscal 2015 and 2014, respectively.

The studio’s best bet of 2016 was the Maria Bello horror thriller “Lights Out,” which made $149 million worldwide on a $5 million budget. Emmerich shepherded the New Line release.

Throughout his New Line tenure, Emmerich has produced mid-range budget monster hits like “Sex and the City” ($415 million worldwide), “Horrible Bosses” ($118 million worldwide) and “We’re The Millers” ($209 million).

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Warner Bros Shakeup: Studio’s Releases On Greg Silverman & Toby Emmerich

Read on: Deadline.

Here are the verbatim press releases issued by Warner Bros Pictures today regarding the exit of Greg Silverman as President of Creative Development and Worldwide Production and Toby Emmerich’s ascension to President and Chief Content Officer at Warner Bros. Pictures Group:
Will Segue from Executive Role at Warner Bros. Pictures at Start of 2017
Widely respected film industry veteran Greg…

Warner Bros Shakeup: Greg Silverman Steps Down, Toby Emmerich Takes Top Production Post

Read on: Deadline.

BREAKING: In a major pre-holiday shakeup at Warner Bros, Greg Silverman is stepping down from his post as President of Creative Development and Worldwide Production. Stepping up to the top production post is Toby Emmerich, who already steered production at New Line from his position as President and COO. He will become Chief Content Officer for Warner Bros and oversee the films generated by both divisions.
Silverman immediately will form a new venture, a fund-based…