Warner Bros Chairman Toby Emmerich to Receive 2019 PGA Milestone Award

Toby Emmerich, Chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, will be honored with the Producers Guild of America’s 2019 Milestone Award, the Guild announced Wednesday.
Emmerich will receive the award at the 30th annual Producers Guild Awards on Jan. 1…

Toby Emmerich, Chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, will be honored with the Producers Guild of America’s 2019 Milestone Award, the Guild announced Wednesday.

Emmerich will receive the award at the 30th annual Producers Guild Awards on Jan. 19, 2019 at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.

“Toby Emmerich is one of the most respected studio executives,” said Gail Berman and Lucy Fisher, Presidents of the PGA. “He continues to deliver high-quality films in a variety of genres and attract some of the finest up-and-coming and veteran directors, as well as producers, and talent to create them. Under his leadership, Warner Bros. Picture Group had a record-breaking year in 2017 with hits including ‘Dunkirk,’ and continues to dominate this year’s box office with critical and commercial, but non-formula, hits such as ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ and ‘A Star Is Born.’ He embraces filmmakers and filmmaking, which is why we are honored to be able to recognize him this year with the Milestone Award.”

Emmerich added, “The Producers Guild knows better than most that studio filmmaking is an intensely collaborative art-form, and more often than not it is the producer who initiates, enables and protects great Hollywood movies/ I’ve been lucky to work with and learn from many great producers throughout my career and want to thank the members of PGA for recognizing me, and the contributions of our teams at Warner Bros. and New Line, with this honor.”

The PGA’s Milestone Award is the Guild’s most prestigious honor which recognized an individual (or a team) who has made historic contributions to the entertainment industry. Previous honorees include Clint Eastwood, Jim Gianopulos, Bob Iger, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sherry Lansing, Steven Spielberg and Donna Langley.

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Toby Emmerich Replaces Greg Silverman as Warner Bros. President

Warner Bros Film Chairman Toby Emmerich To Receive PGA’s Milestone Award

The Producers Guild of America said Wednesday that Toby Emmerich, chairman of the Warner Bros Pictures Group, will be honored with the guild’s most prestigious award: the Milestone Award. Emmerich will receive the honor at the 30th annual PGA Awards on…

The Producers Guild of America said Wednesday that Toby Emmerich, chairman of the Warner Bros Pictures Group, will be honored with the guild's most prestigious award: the Milestone Award. Emmerich will receive the honor at the 30th annual PGA Awards on January 19, at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. As Warner Bros film chairman, Emmerich operates Warner Bros Pictures and New Line Cinema to deliver the studio’s diverse slate, which includes numerous genres and…

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

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…

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 film was screened for Warner Bros Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich; New Line president/Chief Content Officer Carolyn Blackwood; Global Marketing Chief Blair Rich; domestic distribution president Jeff Goldstein; and Tom…

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

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…

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 successor is Tom Moller, who currently serves as EVP in international.

Kwan Vandenberg’s move continues an old-guard exodus like that of former marketing honcho Sue Kroll and, before her, Greg Silverman.

Several leadership changes have come with news of her departure. They are as follows, according to a memo sent to studio employees obtained by TheWrap:

Jim Wuthrich has been named President, Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment and Games, with full oversight of those businesses. Jim will report to Ron Sanders and work closely with Blair Rich who oversees home entertainment marketing of new theatrical releases.

Jessica Schell, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Film, for Home Entertainment will continue to report to Jim Wuthrich and jointly report to Wuthrich and Rich on the slate.

David Haddad, President, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, will continue to run the videogame division reporting to Wuthrich. 

More to come. Read the announcement:

Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, President, International Distribution and Growth Initiatives, Warner Bros. Pictures, will transition from that role to serve as Special Advisor to Ron Sanders, President, Worldwide Theatrical Distribution and Home Entertainment, Warner Bros. Kwan Vandenberg plans to leave the Studio by year’s end.

“Veronika has led our international film distribution division since 2000, and Warner Bros. could not have had a better representative in the global marketplace,” said Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “She’s highly regarded, well-liked and recognized as a great partner by filmmakers, exhibitors and her peers. Her deep knowledge of the business, the international markets and her longstanding relationships have helped us achieve great results. As a China specialist, Veronika was tremendously helpful in shaping our theatrical vision in that complex market. We thank her for everything she’s done for the Studio and look forward to working with her through this transition.”

“Warner Bros. has been my second home and family for almost 30 years. I’ve had the great fortune to work with so many talented, creative and visionary people and I shall miss them all,” said Kwan Vandenberg. “I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished over the years and I’m particularly proud of the great team we have in place. I want to thank Toby and Kevin (Tsujihara, Chairman and CEO) for their support, and I look forward to working with Ron. I have spent many years traveling for the job, so I am especially looking forward to spending time with my family and taking some time for myself, and I am excited about what this new chapter in life will bring.”

“As I used to say at CinemaCon, a bientot, auf wiedersehen, xie xie, arigato, gracias mis amigos.”

In her most recent position, Kwan Vandenberg had oversight of the Studio’s international theatrical distribution activities, including local productions and a special focus on theatrical strategy in China. In her role focusing on film distribution in China, Kwan Vandenberg worked closely with Gillian Zhao, Warner Bros.’ Executive Vice President and Managing Director for China, and together they negotiated Warner Bros.’ first film investment partnership with Wanda and Tencent.

Prior to her current post, Kwan Vandenberg served as President, Worldwide Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures, where she was instrumental in helping realign the international and domestic distribution divisions and setting the release dates to fully maximize the global revenue-generating potential of Warner Bros.’ theatrical releases. She also served as President of International Distribution for 15 years, overseeing all international sales and distribution matters, cultivating and growing relationships with exhibitors, film makers, partners, producers, peers and colleagues, representing the company on the MPA International Theatrical committee.

Throughout her tenure with Warner Bros., Kwan Vandenberg oversaw the distribution of over 350 titles (including local-language titles), amassing over $40 billon in box office receipts. The Studio has been a market leader, ranking #1 or #2 12 of the last 17 years, including five years over $3 billion at the international box office. During this period, she oversaw the release of 30 films that grossed over $500 million, including 15 over $600 million. Kwan Vandenberg was involved in managing the Studio’s most successful film series, including the eight Harry Potter films (with last film in the series becoming the Studio’s highest international grossing-film at $960 million), “Fantastic Beasts,” Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy, Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” trilogy, “The Matrix” trilogy, the Sherlock Holmes films, the New Line horror universe (including “The Conjuring,” “Annabelle” and “IT,” which has become the highest-grossing horror film of all-time), the “Hangover” films, with “Hangover 2” becoming the highest-grossing R rated comedy internationally, and the DC superhero universe. Kwan Vandenberg also oversaw all of Clint Eastwood’s films, including “Gran Torino,” ($119 million internationally), the companion pieces “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima,” and “American Sniper” ($197 million internationally). Additionally, she worked closely with Ben Affleck in bringing his directorial hits “The Town” and Academy Award Best Picture winner “Argo” to international audiences.

Kwan Vandenberg’s accomplishments also include shepherding the first film ever to release simultaneously in every major country at the same hour around the world (“The Matrix Revolutions” in 2003 which went on to gross $460 million and became the then-highest R rated movie of all time).

Kwan Vandenberg joined Warner Bros in 1990 and rose through the ranks to become one of the youngest presidents at the studio in 2000. Prior to Warner Bros., she worked in international marketing for Lorimar Film Entertainment and at the German American Chamber of Commerce.

Kwan Vandenberg grew up living in six countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia before moving to the United States, and speaks fluent German in addition to her knowledge of French and Cantonese.

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Candice McDonough Named SVP of Theatrical Communications at Warner Bros

Candice McDonough Returns To Warner Bros. As SVP Theatrical Communications

EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has learned that Candice McDonough is coming back to Warner Bros as Senior Vice President,  Theatrical Communications. While Warner Bros. has yet to make the news official, it’s a deal that has been in the works.
McDonough&#82…

EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has learned that Candice McDonough is coming back to Warner Bros as Senior Vice President,  Theatrical Communications. While Warner Bros. has yet to make the news official, it’s a deal that has been in the works. McDonough’s arrival follows yesterday’s news about the studio’s spokesperson Jack Horner moving to Dee Dee Myers’ Worldwide Corporate Communications team. In the wake of Toby Emmerich’s promotion from New Line boss in Dec. 2016 to Chairman of…

7 Takeaways From CinemaCon 2018: Change Is Everywhere, Movies Endure

The movie exhibition business wrapped its annual CinemaCon

gathering in Las Vegas this week, and there was plenty to learn about the state of the entertainment industry and the change that is convulsing the entertainment business.

One studio had an entirely new executive team, another had to address the elephant in the room — its pending acquisition by another huge conglomerate — and the bar for entertaining the room was raised by a marching band, a video skit starring a studio mogul and … Cher.

One thing I’ll say for the movies overall — the ones coming down the pipeline about music and musicians and their journeys seem the ones with the most heart. Here are my takeaways

Also Read: Lionsgate Trots Out Blake Lively and ‘Blindspotting,’ But Identity Crisis Looms

Marvel Studios

1. Disney is a monster.

There’s no denying the dominance of this content-creating, brand-defining machine led by Bob Iger and Alan Horn on the movie side. Never was the strategic brilliance of Iger in acquiring Marvel and Lucasfilm more clearly on display than at this year’s presentation (last year the studio barely bothered to show, it felt so confident).

Disney consistently leads the Hollywood pack in market share, has had 12 films hit $1 billion at the box office in the last six years, and looks poised to continue to do so with upcoming films including this weekend’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and the new Star Wars installment, “Solo.”

And while Marvel is a hit machine, spinning off one global superhero hit after another, the other pillars of the Disney palace are also incredibly strong – besides the “Star Wars” saga, Pixar with another “Incredibles” franchise coming, traditional animation and a whole lot of interesting realistic computer graphic-drawn movies. The one most intriguing to me is “The Lion King,” with real animals. Any excuse to bring that beloved title and music to the screen seems like a good idea. Things to worry about: what will happen to animation if John Lasseter doesn’t come back?

Also Read: ‘Mowgli’ Director Andy Serkis Promises a Darker, Bloodier ‘Jungle Book’ Sequel

Getty Images

2. Suddenly, Paramount has come back to life.

After years of moribund production and morale-sucking boardroom battles and family strife, this iconic studio finally seems to have some energy, direction and pulse. New CEO and chairman Jim Gianopulos got everybody’s attention by opening with a self-deprecating video skit, in which a “Vegas Air” flight attendant criticized the mogul for having too many vowels in his name and then did her own imitation of “A Quiet Place,” the studio’s stealth horror hit.

It was a savvy way to win over the crowd since a lot of the upcoming films on Paramount’s slate would not be out until 2019 and an entirely new executive team — Wyck Godfrey, Brian Robbins, Mireille Soria — was being introduced. The studio is counting on good will and a little patience but the overall message was clear — Paramount has a plan, is making movies at a steady clip once again and has its head back in the game.

My only real quibble: Tom Cruise spent waaaaay too much time on stage explaining his latest death-defying stunt jumping out of an airplane for “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” but that’s because he’s Tom Cruise. At least he didn’t jump on a couch.

Also Read: ‘A Quiet Place’ Sequel in Development at Paramount Pictures

3. Universal brought the delight of movies to the room.

Universal offered a mix of drama (“First Man” is about Neil Armstrong’s journey to the moon), horror (“Halloween” with an irrepressible Jamie Lee Curtis), fantasy (Peter Jackson’s “Mortal Engine” is creating new worlds that, he promises, are like nothing we’ve ever seen) and thrillers (M. Night Shyamalan has a new one coming with Bruce Wiillis and Sam Jackson).

But even though he wasn’t in the room, it was Dwayne Johnson’s new action movie, “Skyscraper,” that seemed like something that you need to see on a massive screen, and that is likely to make your heart stop. That guy is a movie star, can we just say that?

Universal ended it all with a surprise live performance by Cher of “Fernando” by ABBA. She plays the grandmother in the sequel to “Mamma Mia.” The original was an unwatchable mess of a movie with the cheesiest performances on the planet that made a bajillion dollars. I’ll probably watch the sequel.

The great @Cher delights us all at #cinemacon with performance of Fernando by ABBA. Here’s a glimpse: @TheWrap pic.twitter.com/nKthcmHPpy

— Sharon Waxman (@sharonwaxman) April 26, 2018

Also Read: James Wan and ‘Aquaman’ Cast Offer First Look at Work-in-Progress Atlantis

4. Warner Bros. needed help, a lot of help.

The studio is in transition, now under former New Line head Toby Emmerich, and his newness showed. The presentation dragged on as one troupe of movie stars followed another, making small talk and pretending to be relaxed around stilted emcee Will Arnett. (Why bring Anne Hathaway on stage for “Ocean’s 8” if you’re not going to talk to her?)

And if “Life of the Party” with Melissa McCarthy seemed like one too many versions of the movie we’ve already seen her do (clueless fish out of water, this time she’s a mom going back to college), the ensemble film “Tag” — drama? comedy?  thriller? mystery? — about a group of friends who play a highly aggressive form of tag for a month every year was simply a hot mess.

“Crazy Rich Asians” looks like it could be a big winner, though the trailer made it hard to tell. But wait! There’s one huge redeeming movie on the Warner slate that made all of it worthwhile. Bradley Cooper brought “A Star Is Born,” his remake of the famed Barbara Streisand – Kris Kristofferson love story. And the trailer unveiled of Cooper and Lady Gaga was a revelation. The film promises a full-on love story with Gaga dropping all the makeup and pretense and bravada. Which brings us to…

Also Read: ‘A Star Is Born’: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga Nail High Notes With Trailer Debut

5. Music movies rule. 

There are so many wonderful films this year about music and musicians that it’s worth pointing it out. As mentioned, “A Star Is Born” looks like it will deliver. Cooper learned to play an instrument well enough to perform.

But Fox’s upcoming “Bohemian Rhapsody” appears to be a similarly strong take on the legendary Freddy Mercury, an epic performer and rule-breaker, played by Rami Malek. And did I mention that the “Mamma Mia” sequel has Cher in it?

6. 3-D is dead.

Over four days and dozens of movies that were presented to the exhibitors in Vegas, only one movie — ONE — was in 3-D, a technology that was all the rage four or five years ago. The lone exception was “Alita,” a largely CG action movie by technology diehard James Cameron about a young female cyborg given a superhuman body. (I think that’s what it was about.)

Robert Rodriguez directed it, and I’m not entirely sure if the 3-D adds all that much to the story. But what was once supposed to be the salvation of movie theaters — adding a premium ticket price to their weekend box office haul — has mostly fizzled. Calling Jeffrey Katzenberg, who predicted otherwise.

Also Read: Enter a 3-D Jungle With ‘Jumanji’ in Virtual Reality This December

Getty Images

7. And finally: Fox.

Who knows if the studio will be at CinemaCon next year? If the Disney acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox goes through, it won’t. So studio chief Stacey Snider wisely used the moment to remind the thousands of exhibitors in the room that she knew no more than they did about the future of her studio, but that she was committed to delivering great movies in the meantime.

And she backed it up with an emotional reel of Fox movies over the last 80 years, from “Titanic” to Shirley Temple to “12 Years a Slave,” reminding everyone what a contribution Fox has made to the culture. “Let’s wear our heart on our sleeves,” she urged the packed hall, choking up (and she wasn’t the only one). “Let’s celebrate the humanity that comes from discovering that we are more alike than different.”

Her words managed to overshadow the bravura, hilarious opening of the Fox presentation with Deadpool leading dancers to the song “One” from the Broadway classic “A Chorus Line.” And it was a fitting reminder that if Fox goes away, we may all be the poorer.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘A Star Is Born’: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga Nail High Notes With Trailer Debut

Fox Film CEO Teases Uncertain Future With Looming Disney Acquisition: ‘We Face a New Transition’

Lionsgate Trots Out Blake Lively and ‘Blindspotting,’ But Identity Crisis Looms

The movie exhibition business wrapped its annual CinemaCon

gathering in Las Vegas this week, and there was plenty to learn about the state of the entertainment industry and the change that is convulsing the entertainment business.

One studio had an entirely new executive team, another had to address the elephant in the room — its pending acquisition by another huge conglomerate — and the bar for entertaining the room was raised by a marching band, a video skit starring a studio mogul and … Cher.

One thing I’ll say for the movies overall — the ones coming down the pipeline about music and musicians and their journeys seem the ones with the most heart. Here are my takeaways

Marvel Studios

1. Disney is a monster.

There’s no denying the dominance of this content-creating, brand-defining machine led by Bob Iger and Alan Horn on the movie side. Never was the strategic brilliance of Iger in acquiring Marvel and Lucasfilm more clearly on display than at this year’s presentation (last year the studio barely bothered to show, it felt so confident).

Disney consistently leads the Hollywood pack in market share, has had 12 films hit $1 billion at the box office in the last six years, and looks poised to continue to do so with upcoming films including this weekend’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and the new Star Wars installment, “Solo.”

And while Marvel is a hit machine, spinning off one global superhero hit after another, the other pillars of the Disney palace are also incredibly strong – besides the “Star Wars” saga, Pixar with another “Incredibles” franchise coming, traditional animation and a whole lot of interesting realistic computer graphic-drawn movies. The one most intriguing to me is “The Lion King,” with real animals. Any excuse to bring that beloved title and music to the screen seems like a good idea. Things to worry about: what will happen to animation if John Lasseter doesn’t come back?

Getty Images

2. Suddenly, Paramount has come back to life.

After years of moribund production and morale-sucking boardroom battles and family strife, this iconic studio finally seems to have some energy, direction and pulse. New CEO and chairman Jim Gianopulos got everybody’s attention by opening with a self-deprecating video skit, in which a “Vegas Air” flight attendant criticized the mogul for having too many vowels in his name and then did her own imitation of “A Quiet Place,” the studio’s stealth horror hit.

It was a savvy way to win over the crowd since a lot of the upcoming films on Paramount’s slate would not be out until 2019 and an entirely new executive team — Wyck Godfrey, Brian Robbins, Mireille Soria — was being introduced. The studio is counting on good will and a little patience but the overall message was clear — Paramount has a plan, is making movies at a steady clip once again and has its head back in the game.

My only real quibble: Tom Cruise spent waaaaay too much time on stage explaining his latest death-defying stunt jumping out of an airplane for “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” but that’s because he’s Tom Cruise. At least he didn’t jump on a couch.

3. Universal brought the delight of movies to the room.

Universal offered a mix of drama (“First Man” is about Neil Armstrong’s journey to the moon), horror (“Halloween” with an irrepressible Jamie Lee Curtis), fantasy (Peter Jackson’s “Mortal Engine” is creating new worlds that, he promises, are like nothing we’ve ever seen) and thrillers (M. Night Shyamalan has a new one coming with Bruce Wiillis and Sam Jackson).

But even though he wasn’t in the room, it was Dwayne Johnson’s new action movie, “Skyscraper,” that seemed like something that you need to see on a massive screen, and that is likely to make your heart stop. That guy is a movie star, can we just say that?

Universal ended it all with a surprise live performance by Cher of “Fernando” by ABBA. She plays the grandmother in the sequel to “Mamma Mia.” The original was an unwatchable mess of a movie with the cheesiest performances on the planet that made a bajillion dollars. I’ll probably watch the sequel.

4. Warner Bros. needed help, a lot of help.

The studio is in transition, now under former New Line head Toby Emmerich, and his newness showed. The presentation dragged on as one troupe of movie stars followed another, making small talk and pretending to be relaxed around stilted emcee Will Arnett. (Why bring Anne Hathaway on stage for “Ocean’s 8” if you’re not going to talk to her?)

And if “Life of the Party” with Melissa McCarthy seemed like one too many versions of the movie we’ve already seen her do (clueless fish out of water, this time she’s a mom going back to college), the ensemble film “Tag” — drama? comedy?  thriller? mystery? — about a group of friends who play a highly aggressive form of tag for a month every year was simply a hot mess.

“Crazy Rich Asians” looks like it could be a big winner, though the trailer made it hard to tell. But wait! There’s one huge redeeming movie on the Warner slate that made all of it worthwhile. Bradley Cooper brought “A Star Is Born,” his remake of the famed Barbara Streisand – Kris Kristofferson love story. And the trailer unveiled of Cooper and Lady Gaga was a revelation. The film promises a full-on love story with Gaga dropping all the makeup and pretense and bravada. Which brings us to…

5. Music movies rule. 

There are so many wonderful films this year about music and musicians that it’s worth pointing it out. As mentioned, “A Star Is Born” looks like it will deliver. Cooper learned to play an instrument well enough to perform.

But Fox’s upcoming “Bohemian Rhapsody” appears to be a similarly strong take on the legendary Freddy Mercury, an epic performer and rule-breaker, played by Rami Malek. And did I mention that the “Mamma Mia” sequel has Cher in it?

6. 3-D is dead.

Over four days and dozens of movies that were presented to the exhibitors in Vegas, only one movie — ONE — was in 3-D, a technology that was all the rage four or five years ago. The lone exception was “Alita,” a largely CG action movie by technology diehard James Cameron about a young female cyborg given a superhuman body. (I think that’s what it was about.)

Robert Rodriguez directed it, and I’m not entirely sure if the 3-D adds all that much to the story. But what was once supposed to be the salvation of movie theaters — adding a premium ticket price to their weekend box office haul — has mostly fizzled. Calling Jeffrey Katzenberg, who predicted otherwise.

Getty Images

7. And finally: Fox.

Who knows if the studio will be at CinemaCon next year? If the Disney acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox goes through, it won’t. So studio chief Stacey Snider wisely used the moment to remind the thousands of exhibitors in the room that she knew no more than they did about the future of her studio, but that she was committed to delivering great movies in the meantime.

And she backed it up with an emotional reel of Fox movies over the last 80 years, from “Titanic” to Shirley Temple to “12 Years a Slave,” reminding everyone what a contribution Fox has made to the culture. “Let’s wear our heart on our sleeves,” she urged the packed hall, choking up (and she wasn’t the only one). “Let’s celebrate the humanity that comes from discovering that we are more alike than different.”

Her words managed to overshadow the bravura, hilarious opening of the Fox presentation with Deadpool leading dancers to the song “One” from the Broadway classic “A Chorus Line.” And it was a fitting reminder that if Fox goes away, we may all be the poorer.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'A Star Is Born': Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga Nail High Notes With Trailer Debut

Fox Film CEO Teases Uncertain Future With Looming Disney Acquisition: 'We Face a New Transition'

Lionsgate Trots Out Blake Lively and 'Blindspotting,' But Identity Crisis Looms

Steven Spielberg Joins DC Universe With ‘Blackhawk’ Movie

Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment are again teaming up with Warner Bros. Pictures to produce the action adventure “Blackhawk,” based on the DC Comics series of the same name.

Spielberg also has an eye on directing the movie, Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich said in a Tuesday announcement.

The move comes on the heels of “Ready Player One,” also a Spielberg-Amblin-Warner Bros. collaboration, and marks the filmmaker’s first feature centered on DC characters.

Blackhawk is the leader of a small team of ace pilots who fight tyranny and oppression — including Axis powers as well as various supervillains –while operating from a hidden base known only as “Blackhawk Island.” The comic book debuted in 1941 and features team members from around the world, with Blackhawk himself generally portrayed as a Polish freedom fighter.

Blackhawk was created by comics legends Chuck Cuidera, Bob Powell and Will Eisner for Quality Comics. The characters and concepts were sold to DC after Quality ceased publications in 1956.

“We are so proud to be the studio behind Steven Spielberg’s latest hit, and are thrilled to be working with him again on this new action adventure,” said Emmerich on Tuesday. “We can’t wait to see what new ground he will break in introducing ‘Blackhawk’ to movie audiences worldwide.”

Also Read: Cathy Yan in Early Talks to Direct Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn Movie

The screenplay for “Blackhawk” is being written by David Koepp, who has collaborated with Spielberg on the blockbusters “Jurassic Park,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” “War of the Worlds” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

Spielberg will produce the film along with Kristie Macosko Krieger, under the Amblin Entertainment banner, while Sue Kroll will executive produce, under her Kroll & Co. Entertainment shingle.

“It was wonderful working with the team at Warner Bros. to bring ‘Ready Player One’ to the screen,” said Spielberg, adding, “They bring a blend of passion and professionalism to everything they do and have a tremendous history in this genre. I am excited to reunite with them on ‘Blackhawk.’”

Spielberg’s next two films are the fifth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise and “West Side Story.”

“Blackhawk” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Shazam’ Star Zachary Levi Silences Body Shaming Critics; Posts Shirtless Pic

America’s Least-Liked TV Media Personality Is …

I’m an Asian American Actor Who Went to China Before Hollywood Would Cast Me as a Lead (Guest Blog)

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best (Photos)

Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment are again teaming up with Warner Bros. Pictures to produce the action adventure “Blackhawk,” based on the DC Comics series of the same name.

Spielberg also has an eye on directing the movie, Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich said in a Tuesday announcement.

The move comes on the heels of “Ready Player One,” also a Spielberg-Amblin-Warner Bros. collaboration, and marks the filmmaker’s first feature centered on DC characters.

Blackhawk is the leader of a small team of ace pilots who fight tyranny and oppression — including Axis powers as well as various supervillains –while operating from a hidden base known only as “Blackhawk Island.” The comic book debuted in 1941 and features team members from around the world, with Blackhawk himself generally portrayed as a Polish freedom fighter.

Blackhawk was created by comics legends Chuck Cuidera, Bob Powell and Will Eisner for Quality Comics. The characters and concepts were sold to DC after Quality ceased publications in 1956.

“We are so proud to be the studio behind Steven Spielberg’s latest hit, and are thrilled to be working with him again on this new action adventure,” said Emmerich on Tuesday. “We can’t wait to see what new ground he will break in introducing ‘Blackhawk’ to movie audiences worldwide.”

The screenplay for “Blackhawk” is being written by David Koepp, who has collaborated with Spielberg on the blockbusters “Jurassic Park,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” “War of the Worlds” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

Spielberg will produce the film along with Kristie Macosko Krieger, under the Amblin Entertainment banner, while Sue Kroll will executive produce, under her Kroll & Co. Entertainment shingle.

“It was wonderful working with the team at Warner Bros. to bring ‘Ready Player One’ to the screen,” said Spielberg, adding, “They bring a blend of passion and professionalism to everything they do and have a tremendous history in this genre. I am excited to reunite with them on ‘Blackhawk.'”

Spielberg’s next two films are the fifth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise and “West Side Story.”

“Blackhawk” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Shazam' Star Zachary Levi Silences Body Shaming Critics; Posts Shirtless Pic

America's Least-Liked TV Media Personality Is …

I'm an Asian American Actor Who Went to China Before Hollywood Would Cast Me as a Lead (Guest Blog)

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best (Photos)

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

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

Related stories from TheWrap:

Former Warner Bros Exec Sue Kroll Launches Own Production Banner on Studio Lot

Gavin Polone Sues Warner Bros., The CW Over ‘Gilmore Girls’ Money

Ava DuVernay in Final Negotiations to Direct ‘The New Gods’ for Warner Bros

Greg Berlanti Says DC Films’ ‘Booster Gold’ Movie Still in the Works at Warner Bros

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.

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

Related stories from TheWrap:

Former Warner Bros Exec Sue Kroll Launches Own Production Banner on Studio Lot

Gavin Polone Sues Warner Bros., The CW Over 'Gilmore Girls' Money

Ava DuVernay in Final Negotiations to Direct 'The New Gods' for Warner Bros

Greg Berlanti Says DC Films' 'Booster Gold' Movie Still in the Works at Warner Bros

Former Warner Bros Exec Sue Kroll Launches Own Production Banner on Studio Lot

Sue Kroll, the former marketing and distribution head at Warner Bros., is launching her own production label titled Kroll & Co. Entertainment at the lot in Burbank, the studio announced Wednesday.

Kroll is already involved in the production and development of a range of feature film projects, but she is also looking to develop television, digital and other content.

As a producer, Kroll’s upcoming projects include the sci-fi thriller “Nemesis,” alongside producer Ridley Scott and Jules Daly, as well as the YA drama “The Selection” and the untitled comedy starring Sandra Bullock. She also is working on the action thriller “The Six Billion Dollar Man” starring Mark Wahlberg.

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

“My passion for film and television and for telling great stories is not only the cornerstone of my wonderful career, but has also been a huge part of my life since I was a young girl enthralled by the moving image,” stated Kroll. “I am excited to be collaborating in this new capacity with amazing, visionary filmmakers, many of whom I have known and worked with, and to also champion new and unique voices. This is just the beginning and I am thrilled about our slate of films and our incredible filmmaking partners.”

Kroll most recently served as Warner Bros. Pictures president of worldwide marketing and distribution. She first joined the studio in 1994, and under her leadership the studio won the Best Picture Oscar for “Argo” as well as Best Animated Feature Oscar for “Happy Feet.” The studio has also received nominations for “Dunkirk,” “The Blind Side,” “Inception,” “American Sniper” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” during her tenure.

On January 9, Warner Bros. promoted Toby Emmerich to chairman of the motion picture group while Kroll stepped aside to pursue a production deal. At the time, it was said she would 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: Sue Kroll Named President of Worldwide Distribution at Warner Bros., Dan Fellman Exits

Kroll will also serve as an executive producer on “A Star Is Born,” which is directed and produced by Bradley Cooper and will star Lady Gaga. She also has an executive producer credit on Edward Norton’s “Motherless Brooklyn” and “The Goldfinch.”

Rounding out Kroll & Co. Entertainment are SVP of Development and Production Jennifer Malloy, Creative Executive Olivia Heighten, Chelsea Bradshaw as operations/production executive and administrative assistant Nicole Kraft.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Sue Kroll Extends Deal as Warner Bros’ Marketing and Distribution Chief

Sue Kroll Set to Re-Up at Warner Bros. – With More Power (Exclusive)

Sue Kroll, the former marketing and distribution head at Warner Bros., is launching her own production label titled Kroll & Co. Entertainment at the lot in Burbank, the studio announced Wednesday.

Kroll is already involved in the production and development of a range of feature film projects, but she is also looking to develop television, digital and other content.

As a producer, Kroll’s upcoming projects include the sci-fi thriller “Nemesis,” alongside producer Ridley Scott and Jules Daly, as well as the YA drama “The Selection” and the untitled comedy starring Sandra Bullock. She also is working on the action thriller “The Six Billion Dollar Man” starring Mark Wahlberg.

“My passion for film and television and for telling great stories is not only the cornerstone of my wonderful career, but has also been a huge part of my life since I was a young girl enthralled by the moving image,” stated Kroll. “I am excited to be collaborating in this new capacity with amazing, visionary filmmakers, many of whom I have known and worked with, and to also champion new and unique voices. This is just the beginning and I am thrilled about our slate of films and our incredible filmmaking partners.”

Kroll most recently served as Warner Bros. Pictures president of worldwide marketing and distribution. She first joined the studio in 1994, and under her leadership the studio won the Best Picture Oscar for “Argo” as well as Best Animated Feature Oscar for “Happy Feet.” The studio has also received nominations for “Dunkirk,” “The Blind Side,” “Inception,” “American Sniper” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” during her tenure.

On January 9, Warner Bros. promoted Toby Emmerich to chairman of the motion picture group while Kroll stepped aside to pursue a production deal. At the time, it was said she would 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.

Kroll will also serve as an executive producer on “A Star Is Born,” which is directed and produced by Bradley Cooper and will star Lady Gaga. She also has an executive producer credit on Edward Norton’s “Motherless Brooklyn” and “The Goldfinch.”

Rounding out Kroll & Co. Entertainment are SVP of Development and Production Jennifer Malloy, Creative Executive Olivia Heighten, Chelsea Bradshaw as operations/production executive and administrative assistant Nicole Kraft.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Sue Kroll Extends Deal as Warner Bros' Marketing and Distribution Chief

Sue Kroll Set to Re-Up at Warner Bros. – With More Power (Exclusive)

David Chase Revives ‘The Sopranos’ With New Line Prequel Movie ‘The Many Saints Of Newark’

EXCLUSIVE: David Chase is finally ready to return to the New Jersey turf of his iconic creation The Sopranos. New Line has purchased the screenplay The Many Saints of Newark, the working title for a feature prequel of The Sopranos that is set in the era of the Newark riots in the 60s. That was a time when the African-Americans and the Italians of Newark were at each other’s throats, and amongst the gangsters of each group, those conflicts became especially lethal.
The…

EXCLUSIVE: David Chase is finally ready to return to the New Jersey turf of his iconic creation The Sopranos. New Line has purchased the screenplay The Many Saints of Newark, the working title for a feature prequel of The Sopranos that is set in the era of the Newark riots in the 60s. That was a time when the African-Americans and the Italians of Newark were at each other’s throats, and amongst the gangsters of each group, those conflicts became especially lethal. The…

Why DC’s ‘Batgirl’ Movie Won’t Happen Anytime Soon

DC Films and Warner Bros. are in no hurry to move forward with “Batgirl” now that writer-director Joss Whedon has stepped away, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

There are no imminent plans to attach a new filmmaker to the “Batman” spinooff after Whedon exited last week, the insider said.

Last March, the studio announced with great fanfare that the director of “The Avengers” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” would jump to the DC universe for a standalone “Batgirl” movie whose timing seemed prescient coming just before the breakout success of “Wonder Woman.” But last week, Whedon pulled out of the project, saying in a statement, “It took me months to realize I really didn’t have a story.”

Also Read: Joss Whedon Steps Down as ‘Batgirl’ Director

According to the insider, the studio always intended to develop the core members of the Justice League — Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and possibly Green Lantern — before spinning off secondary characters like Nightwing, Deathstroke, Lobo and Batgirl.

Even if Whedon had landed on a satisfying story, the insider said, the project was unlikely to shoot before the next “Batman” that Matt Reeves is currently writing and which remains in active development but officially undated.

Another factor is the uncertainty surrounding DC Films itself. Despite the success of last summer’s megahit “Wonder Woman,” last November’s “Justice League” proved to be another box office disappointment — grossing just $229 million domestically and $657 million worldwide.

Also Read: What Warner Bros.’ Shake-Up Means for DC Films: Fewer Cooks, Finally

Toby Emmerich, who’s made his reputation leading Warner’s New Line division to relatively low-budget blockbusters like “It,” last month was named chairman of the studio’s film division in the hopes of righting studio operations, particularly DC Films.

The unit, which has struggled to become a highly profitable hit machine to rival Disney’s Marvel Studios, has at least six superhero tentpoles in active phases of development, production and postproduction. That includes Jason Momoa and Nicole Kidman’s “Aquaman,” due this December, and a planned 2019 sequel to Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman.”

In addition, a cloud looms over Warner Bros. because of the lawsuit by the Department of Justice against AT&T’s $85 billion bid to buy studio parent company Time Warner.

If the merger fails, an individual close to the company told TheWrap that Time Warner would likely be broken up into parts and sold separately as Warner Bros., HBO and Turner — leaving the fate of DC Comics a bit up in the air.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Lindsay Lohan Wants to Star in Joss Whedon’s ‘Batgirl’ Movie

Joss Whedon’s Batgirl Movie: Twitterverse Votes on Who Should Play Lead Role (Photos)

Emma Stone as Batgirl? Comic Book Artist Imagines Oscar Winner as Character (Photo)

DC Films and Warner Bros. are in no hurry to move forward with “Batgirl” now that writer-director Joss Whedon has stepped away, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

There are no imminent plans to attach a new filmmaker to the “Batman” spinooff after Whedon exited last week, the insider said.

Last March, the studio announced with great fanfare that the director of “The Avengers” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” would jump to the DC universe for a standalone “Batgirl” movie whose timing seemed prescient coming just before the breakout success of “Wonder Woman.” But last week, Whedon pulled out of the project, saying in a statement, “It took me months to realize I really didn’t have a story.”

According to the insider, the studio always intended to develop the core members of the Justice League — Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and possibly Green Lantern — before spinning off secondary characters like Nightwing, Deathstroke, Lobo and Batgirl.

Even if Whedon had landed on a satisfying story, the insider said, the project was unlikely to shoot before the next “Batman” that Matt Reeves is currently writing and which remains in active development but officially undated.

Another factor is the uncertainty surrounding DC Films itself. Despite the success of last summer’s megahit “Wonder Woman,” last November’s “Justice League” proved to be another box office disappointment — grossing just $229 million domestically and $657 million worldwide.

Toby Emmerich, who’s made his reputation leading Warner’s New Line division to relatively low-budget blockbusters like “It,” last month was named chairman of the studio’s film division in the hopes of righting studio operations, particularly DC Films.

The unit, which has struggled to become a highly profitable hit machine to rival Disney’s Marvel Studios, has at least six superhero tentpoles in active phases of development, production and postproduction. That includes Jason Momoa and Nicole Kidman’s “Aquaman,” due this December, and a planned 2019 sequel to Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman.”

In addition, a cloud looms over Warner Bros. because of the lawsuit by the Department of Justice against AT&T’s $85 billion bid to buy studio parent company Time Warner.

If the merger fails, an individual close to the company told TheWrap that Time Warner would likely be broken up into parts and sold separately as Warner Bros., HBO and Turner — leaving the fate of DC Comics a bit up in the air.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Lindsay Lohan Wants to Star in Joss Whedon's 'Batgirl' Movie

Joss Whedon's Batgirl Movie: Twitterverse Votes on Who Should Play Lead Role (Photos)

Emma Stone as Batgirl? Comic Book Artist Imagines Oscar Winner as Character (Photo)

STX President Sophie Watts Exits Over CEO Robert Simonds’ Alleged Harassment (Exclusive)

STX Entertainment President Sophie Watts is leaving her role at the entertainment company after complaining of harassment by her boss CEO Robert Simonds, according to two individuals with knowledge of the situation.

Watts has been absent from STX since at least December, but her official resignation was expected imminently.

Reached for comment, Watts said, “I can’t comment on any of this.”

Also Read: Katie Couric Breaks Silence on Matt Lauer: ‘This Was Not the Matt We Knew’

TheWrap attempted to reach Simonds by email and phone, with no reply. Company spokeswoman Patti Rockenwagner also did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls ahead of publication seeking response.

Update: 30 minutes after the publication of this story, STX sent a press release announcing Watts’ departure to Variety. It was she would “focus on new business opportunities.”

The situation is highly unusual in that Watts, one of the top women executives in Hollywood, is openly gay. Simonds, who is married and heterosexual, is accused by Watts, his subordinate, of systematic harassment.

Simonds’ relationship to Watts, who co-founded the company with him in 2012, was described by the two individuals with knowledge of the situation as “obsessive.”

From left: Producer Suzanne Todd, Sophie Watts, Susan Sarandon

“It became an unhealthy obsession of his,” said one former employee. “It was common knowledge. They had some kind of friendship that was peculiar to everybody, because it made no sense why she was being anointed the way she was. He refused to let her have her own office. They had two desks facing each other. They traveled everywhere together…  [In meetings] he complimented her every second — and inappropriately so — even if she hadn’t said a word or wasn’t there.”

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

Both individuals with knowledge of the relationship said that Simonds insisted that Watts keep her desk in his office. When she asked to move, no other space was made available except on another floor, where she was cut off from meetings and the information flow until she moved back to Simonds’ space, one of the individuals said.

Watts complained repeatedly about the unwanted attention, according to both individuals. In September 2016, an outside attorney was brought in who recommended that a bodyguard be present when the two were alone in the office, and that they not fly to Asia together without others present, one of the insiders said.

Neither recommendation was followed, the insider said, and Watts again found herself alone on 15-hour private flights to China with Simonds.

The two individuals also said that Simonds’ wife, Anne, believed the CEO and Watts were having sex. “Bob’s wife would call and scream, ‘Get Bob on the phone, or is he with Sophie? Is she under the desk sucking his d—?’” one former employee said. The second individual cited the same comment by Simonds’ wife.

Neither insider said they knew of a sexual relationship between Simonds and Watts.

Also Read: STX Entertainment Struggles With Flops, Executive Exits and a Shift in Strategy (Exclusive)

STX was founded by Simonds, Watts and Bill McGlashan of TPG Growth in 2102.

The fledgling company landed the Chinese film company Huayi Brothers as a co-production and slate-financing partner, raising $1 billion to spend on acquisition titles and mid-budget original films in an industry increasingly reliant on tentpole films.

STX Chairman and CEO Bob Simonds

In media appearances, the untested Watts was touted as a sharp young visionary paired with Simonds, an experienced finance professional. In early meetings, Simonds boasted about his young charge  — and he showed off their shared office to demonstrate the progressive company culture.

Said a third person, a former STX employee with knowledge of their dynamic: “They were super close. They relied on each other in a business sense. The psychological thing was — Sophie came in without a lot of experience. Bob would listen to her opinion. And people would think: ‘What does she have on him? Why would he listen to her above people who have experience in this field?’”

The studio struggled initially, with pricey flops like Matthew McConaughey’s “Free State of Jones” and the $60 million tween sci-fi film “The Space Between Us,” which grossed only $8 million in the U.S. The studio’s lone  true hit was the 2016 Mila Kunis-Kristen Bell comedy “Bad Moms,” which took over $180 million worldwide on a $20 million budget.

STX has seen a series of high-profile executives depart, including president of production Cathy Schulman and president of marketing Jack Pan. Before him, president of digital Kathy Savitt remained in the position for less than a year. Chief content officer Oren Aviv was demoted to a producer on the family franchise “Ugly Dolls.”

One of the two people who said Watts felt harassed by Simonds spoke to Watts in October at a women’s leadership event, and said she was distraught.

“She said it was horrible and she had to leave,” the individual said. “She said, ‘I can’t have a life without him. He ruins every relationship I have.’”

But the final straw appears to have occurred at Variety’s Power of Women event on Oct. 13. One witness said Watts showed up and was seated next to Simonds, although men do not typically attend the event. Watts looked pained and left abruptly, the witness said.

Related stories from TheWrap:

STX Gets Investment From John Malone’s Telecom Giant Liberty Global

‘Bad Moms’ Studio STX Plans 2018 IPO on Hong Kong Stock Exchange

STX Films Names Mike Viane Head of Theatrical Sales

STX Entertainment President Sophie Watts is leaving her role at the entertainment company after complaining of harassment by her boss CEO Robert Simonds, according to two individuals with knowledge of the situation.

Watts has been absent from STX since at least December, but her official resignation was expected imminently.

Reached for comment, Watts said, “I can’t comment on any of this.”

TheWrap attempted to reach Simonds by email and phone, with no reply. Company spokeswoman Patti Rockenwagner also did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls ahead of publication seeking response.

Update: 30 minutes after the publication of this story, STX sent a press release announcing Watts’ departure to Variety. It was she would “focus on new business opportunities.”

The situation is highly unusual in that Watts, one of the top women executives in Hollywood, is openly gay. Simonds, who is married and heterosexual, is accused by Watts, his subordinate, of systematic harassment.

Simonds’ relationship to Watts, who co-founded the company with him in 2012, was described by the two individuals with knowledge of the situation as “obsessive.”

From left: Producer Suzanne Todd, Sophie Watts, Susan Sarandon

“It became an unhealthy obsession of his,” said one former employee. “It was common knowledge. They had some kind of friendship that was peculiar to everybody, because it made no sense why she was being anointed the way she was. He refused to let her have her own office. They had two desks facing each other. They traveled everywhere together…  [In meetings] he complimented her every second — and inappropriately so — even if she hadn’t said a word or wasn’t there.”

Both individuals with knowledge of the relationship said that Simonds insisted that Watts keep her desk in his office. When she asked to move, no other space was made available except on another floor, where she was cut off from meetings and the information flow until she moved back to Simonds’ space, one of the individuals said.

Watts complained repeatedly about the unwanted attention, according to both individuals. In September 2016, an outside attorney was brought in who recommended that a bodyguard be present when the two were alone in the office, and that they not fly to Asia together without others present, one of the insiders said.

Neither recommendation was followed, the insider said, and Watts again found herself alone on 15-hour private flights to China with Simonds.

The two individuals also said that Simonds’ wife, Anne, believed the CEO and Watts were having sex. “Bob’s wife would call and scream, ‘Get Bob on the phone, or is he with Sophie? Is she under the desk sucking his d—?'” one former employee said. The second individual cited the same comment by Simonds’ wife.

Neither insider said they knew of a sexual relationship between Simonds and Watts.

STX was founded by Simonds, Watts and Bill McGlashan of TPG Growth in 2102.

The fledgling company landed the Chinese film company Huayi Brothers as a co-production and slate-financing partner, raising $1 billion to spend on acquisition titles and mid-budget original films in an industry increasingly reliant on tentpole films.

STX Chairman and CEO Bob Simonds

In media appearances, the untested Watts was touted as a sharp young visionary paired with Simonds, an experienced finance professional. In early meetings, Simonds boasted about his young charge  — and he showed off their shared office to demonstrate the progressive company culture.

Said a third person, a former STX employee with knowledge of their dynamic: “They were super close. They relied on each other in a business sense. The psychological thing was — Sophie came in without a lot of experience. Bob would listen to her opinion. And people would think: ‘What does she have on him? Why would he listen to her above people who have experience in this field?'”

The studio struggled initially, with pricey flops like Matthew McConaughey’s “Free State of Jones” and the $60 million tween sci-fi film “The Space Between Us,” which grossed only $8 million in the U.S. The studio’s lone  true hit was the 2016 Mila Kunis-Kristen Bell comedy “Bad Moms,” which took over $180 million worldwide on a $20 million budget.

STX has seen a series of high-profile executives depart, including president of production Cathy Schulman and president of marketing Jack Pan. Before him, president of digital Kathy Savitt remained in the position for less than a year. Chief content officer Oren Aviv was demoted to a producer on the family franchise “Ugly Dolls.”

One of the two people who said Watts felt harassed by Simonds spoke to Watts in October at a women’s leadership event, and said she was distraught.

“She said it was horrible and she had to leave,” the individual said. “She said, ‘I can’t have a life without him. He ruins every relationship I have.'”

But the final straw appears to have occurred at Variety’s Power of Women event on Oct. 13. One witness said Watts showed up and was seated next to Simonds, although men do not typically attend the event. Watts looked pained and left abruptly, the witness said.

Related stories from TheWrap:

STX Gets Investment From John Malone's Telecom Giant Liberty Global

'Bad Moms' Studio STX Plans 2018 IPO on Hong Kong Stock Exchange

STX Films Names Mike Viane Head of Theatrical Sales

Inside the Warner Bros Shakeup and What It Means for AT&T Merger

The shakeup at Warner Bros. on Tuesday seems aimed at making the studio nimble enough to deal with the uncertainty in its immediate future: corporate merger, standalone sale or none of the above.

But, for the record, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara went out of his way to deny that this was the case.

“It has zero to do with AT&T,” he told TheWrap in an interview after the restructuring was announced. “It has nothing to do with the contemplation of the merger happening or not happening — it’s what we thought was in the best interest of Warner Bros. short-term and long term.”

Also Read: Hollywood in 2018: The Old Order Ends, a New One Rises

What is indisputable is that a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the studio because of the lawsuit by the Department of Justice against AT&T’s $85 billion bid to buy Warner Bros. parent company Time Warner. This necessarily means the studio has to prepare for conflicting eventualities in the near future.

An individual close to the company told TheWrap that there is no internal clarity over whether the merger will happen or not. But if the merger fails, this executive said, Time Warner is expected to be broken up into parts and sold separately as Warner Bros., HBO and Turner.

Another individual told TheWrap that the fact 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, was significant. This knowledgeable observer suggested that Stephenson’s statements were an olive branch intended to facilitate a settlement with the Department of Justice.

No one involved in the deal seems to believe that divesting CNN is in the cards. An AT&T spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter.

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

Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara’s own future is unknown, and he has two more years on his contract. He placed the studio under the clear leadership of Toby Emmerich, who made his reputation at Warner’s New Line Cinema division where he found low-budget cultural hits like the Stephen King adaptation “It.”

By transitioning studio marketing-distribution veteran Sue Kroll to a producing deal — she was in the running for the top job as well — he removes the possibility of political gamesmanship among his senior team.

The new executive configuration may well reflect the most streamlined version of the film studio to make it attractive to potential buyers. There was a sense that a previous triumvirate structure involving Emmerich, Kroll and former production president Greg Silverman left too much uncertainty about who was leading the studio.

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

With increased autonomy, Emmerich will be expected to stabilize the studio’s DC Films unit. It’s a content shop responsible for at least six superhero tentpoles in active phases of development, production and postproduction, including Jason Momoa and Nicole Kidman’s “Aquaman,” due this December, and a planned 2019 sequel to Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot’s “Wonder Woman.”

It will take time for Emmerich to fully realize his increased influence and marching orders for the studio’s slate, but Tsujihara is sure of at least one thing — his company cannot and does not want to be Disney.

“Warner Bros. needs to continue doing what it’s always done: producing the biggest, most diverse slate in the business. That’s what’s made us successful. We can’t do what Disney’s done,” he said.

“It’s worked really, really well for them, but it’s not who we are,”  Tsujihara said. “We need to continue to create a balanced slate of all types of movies and all genres.”

Matt Donnelly contributed to this post.

Related stories from TheWrap:

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

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

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

The shakeup at Warner Bros. on Tuesday seems aimed at making the studio nimble enough to deal with the uncertainty in its immediate future: corporate merger, standalone sale or none of the above.

But, for the record, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara went out of his way to deny that this was the case.

“It has zero to do with AT&T,” he told TheWrap in an interview after the restructuring was announced. “It has nothing to do with the contemplation of the merger happening or not happening — it’s what we thought was in the best interest of Warner Bros. short-term and long term.”

What is indisputable is that a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the studio because of the lawsuit by the Department of Justice against AT&T’s $85 billion bid to buy Warner Bros. parent company Time Warner. This necessarily means the studio has to prepare for conflicting eventualities in the near future.

An individual close to the company told TheWrap that there is no internal clarity over whether the merger will happen or not. But if the merger fails, this executive said, Time Warner is expected to be broken up into parts and sold separately as Warner Bros., HBO and Turner.

Another individual told TheWrap that the fact 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, was significant. This knowledgeable observer suggested that Stephenson’s statements were an olive branch intended to facilitate a settlement with the Department of Justice.

No one involved in the deal seems to believe that divesting CNN is in the cards. An AT&T spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter.

Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara’s own future is unknown, and he has two more years on his contract. He placed the studio under the clear leadership of Toby Emmerich, who made his reputation at Warner’s New Line Cinema division where he found low-budget cultural hits like the Stephen King adaptation “It.”

By transitioning studio marketing-distribution veteran Sue Kroll to a producing deal — she was in the running for the top job as well — he removes the possibility of political gamesmanship among his senior team.

The new executive configuration may well reflect the most streamlined version of the film studio to make it attractive to potential buyers. There was a sense that a previous triumvirate structure involving Emmerich, Kroll and former production president Greg Silverman left too much uncertainty about who was leading the studio.

With increased autonomy, Emmerich will be expected to stabilize the studio’s DC Films unit. It’s a content shop responsible for at least six superhero tentpoles in active phases of development, production and postproduction, including Jason Momoa and Nicole Kidman’s “Aquaman,” due this December, and a planned 2019 sequel to Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot’s “Wonder Woman.”

It will take time for Emmerich to fully realize his increased influence and marching orders for the studio’s slate, but Tsujihara is sure of at least one thing — his company cannot and does not want to be Disney.

“Warner Bros. needs to continue doing what it’s always done: producing the biggest, most diverse slate in the business. That’s what’s made us successful. We can’t do what Disney’s done,” he said.

“It’s worked really, really well for them, but it’s not who we are,”  Tsujihara said. “We need to continue to create a balanced slate of all types of movies and all genres.”

Matt Donnelly contributed to this post.

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

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. 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.

“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”).

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

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

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.

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.”

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.

“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

Warner Animation Group Appoints New EVP, SVP

Warner Animation Group has appointed two senior-level executives to their animated film production arm: Allison Abbate has been named executive vice president, while Chris Leahy has been appointed senior vice president.

President and Chief Content Officer Toby Emmerich and Courtenay Valenti, President of Production and Development, share oversight of the animation group.

“Allison and Chris are well known and well respected in the animation community and will be key to expanding our operations at Warner Animation Group,” said Emmerich. “We have ambitious plans for WAG and will rely on Allison and Chris to attract world-class animation talent to help us develop and deliver a robust slate of both animated and live-action/hybrid titles.”

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

“Warner Bros. has a long and storied history in animation,” added Valenti. “From our early animated theatrical shorts to our recent LEGO releases from WAG, animation is a Studio cornerstone. I am so excited that Allison and Chris, both admired and excellent animation executives, will help us focus our efforts in this area to become an important player in family entertainment.”

Abbate will be responsible for overall strategy and creative direction of the animation group, while Leahy will oversee all aspects of its production and operations. Both Abbate and Leahy will work with Valenti.

Abbate is a 20-year industry veteran best known for her producing work on “The Iron Giant,” for which she won a BAFTA Award. Other credits include “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” and “Frankenweenie,” all of which were Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated. She also served as an exec producer on “The LEGO Movie.”

Also Read: Warner Bros. Restructures DC Films, Co-President Jon Berg to Leave Current Post

Leahy most recently served as vice president, theatrical animation of Warner Bros. Pictures, where he oversaw the production of “Storks,” “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “The LEGO Ninjago Movie.” Previously, he worked at DreamWorks Animation for 12 years, and served as an associated producer on “Penguins of Madagascar” and production manager on “Turbo.”

Warner Animation Group projects currently in production include “Smallfoot,” “The LEGO Movie Sequel” and “Scoob.”

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Warner Animation Group has appointed two senior-level executives to their animated film production arm: Allison Abbate has been named executive vice president, while Chris Leahy has been appointed senior vice president.

President and Chief Content Officer Toby Emmerich and Courtenay Valenti, President of Production and Development, share oversight of the animation group.

“Allison and Chris are well known and well respected in the animation community and will be key to expanding our operations at Warner Animation Group,” said Emmerich. “We have ambitious plans for WAG and will rely on Allison and Chris to attract world-class animation talent to help us develop and deliver a robust slate of both animated and live-action/hybrid titles.”

“Warner Bros. has a long and storied history in animation,” added Valenti. “From our early animated theatrical shorts to our recent LEGO releases from WAG, animation is a Studio cornerstone. I am so excited that Allison and Chris, both admired and excellent animation executives, will help us focus our efforts in this area to become an important player in family entertainment.”

Abbate will be responsible for overall strategy and creative direction of the animation group, while Leahy will oversee all aspects of its production and operations. Both Abbate and Leahy will work with Valenti.

Abbate is a 20-year industry veteran best known for her producing work on “The Iron Giant,” for which she won a BAFTA Award. Other credits include “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” and “Frankenweenie,” all of which were Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated. She also served as an exec producer on “The LEGO Movie.”

Leahy most recently served as vice president, theatrical animation of Warner Bros. Pictures, where he oversaw the production of “Storks,” “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “The LEGO Ninjago Movie.” Previously, he worked at DreamWorks Animation for 12 years, and served as an associated producer on “Penguins of Madagascar” and production manager on “Turbo.”

Warner Animation Group projects currently in production include “Smallfoot,” “The LEGO Movie Sequel” and “Scoob.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

JK Rowling, Warner Bros Defend Johnny Depp's Casting in 'Fantastic Beasts'

Warner Bros. Crosses $5 Billion at Global Box Office

AT&T Wants Time Warner Merger Antitrust Trial to Start in February

Warner Bros. Restructuring DC Films, Co-President Jon Berg to Leave Current Post

Warner Bros. is restructuring its DC Films division and Warner Bros. Co-President of Production and “Justice League” producer Jon Berg will segway into a producer role with Roy Lee, the producer of “The Lego Movie” and “It,” an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.

“This is something that Jon approached me about six months ago, and he expressed his goal was to ultimately be a producer at the studio,” Warner Bros. Pictures Group president Toby Emmerich said in a statement to TheWrap.  “I first met Jon when, as a producer, he brought ‘Elf’ to New Line, which remains one of the best and most evergreen titles in the library.  We’re thrilled that Jon is partnering with Roy and anticipate their company being a valuable source of movies for Warner Bros. and New Line.”

Variety first reported the news of Berg’s transition.

More to come…

Warner Bros. is restructuring its DC Films division and Warner Bros. Co-President of Production and “Justice League” producer Jon Berg will segway into a producer role with Roy Lee, the producer of “The Lego Movie” and “It,” an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.

“This is something that Jon approached me about six months ago, and he expressed his goal was to ultimately be a producer at the studio,” Warner Bros. Pictures Group president Toby Emmerich said in a statement to TheWrap.  “I first met Jon when, as a producer, he brought ‘Elf’ to New Line, which remains one of the best and most evergreen titles in the library.  We’re thrilled that Jon is partnering with Roy and anticipate their company being a valuable source of movies for Warner Bros. and New Line.”

Variety first reported the news of Berg’s transition.

More to come…

Jon Berg Segues To Producing Role At Warner Bros. With Roy Lee As Toby Emmerich Evolves DC Films Structure

Jon Berg, Warner Bros. co-president of production and Justice League producer is exiting the executive suites on the Burbank, CA lot for another office, that of Lego Movie producer Roy Lee’s production partner. All of this news comes following the lackluster performance of DC’s Justice League at the box office which at $572M still hasn’t broke even yet (finance experts peg it in the high $600M-low $700M global range). Berg had creative direction over the DC properties…

Jon Berg, Warner Bros. co-president of production and Justice League producer is exiting the executive suites on the Burbank, CA lot for another office, that of Lego Movie producer Roy Lee’s production partner. All of this news comes following the lackluster performance of DC’s Justice League at the box office which at $572M still hasn’t broke even yet (finance experts peg it in the high $600M-low $700M global range). Berg had creative direction over the DC properties…

How ‘Justice League’ Became a ‘Frankenstein’

“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.

Frankenstein  

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.

“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.

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.”

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.

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.

Frankenstein  

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.

Fondue Fountains Flow At ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ Broadway Opening

It was easy to spot the dash of Hollywood glam at the Broadway opening night party of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” There were the chocolate fountains and the all-you-can-eat candy kiosk and the giant, solid chocolate sculpture of Willy Wonka that helped make the shindig  a lot more lavish than your typical Broadway opening… Read more »

It was easy to spot the dash of Hollywood glam at the Broadway opening night party of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” There were the chocolate fountains and the all-you-can-eat candy kiosk and the giant, solid chocolate sculpture of Willy Wonka that helped make the shindig  a lot more lavish than your typical Broadway opening... Read more »

Matt Reeves to Direct and Produce ‘The Batman’ for Warner Bros

“War of the Planet of the Apes” director Matt Reeves has signed on to direct and produce Warner Bros.’ “The Batman,” TheWrap has learned.

The move follows reports that the studio’s talks with Reeves had broken down last week in the latest sign of trouble for the DC Comics property, a standalone follow-up to last year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Ben Affleck was originally set to star in, co-write, and direct “The Batman,” but withdrew as director January 30, citing an inability to give his full focus in all three roles. He is still expected to remain as the star of the film.

Also Read: Every DC Comics Movie Ranked From Worst to Best, Including ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ (Photos)

Reeves, who is now in post on “War for the Planet of the Apes,” was a former protégé of director J.J. Abrams and made a splash with 2008’s found-footage alien film “Cloverfield.”

He made the leap to event films taking over for Rupert Wyatt on 2014’s  “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” Fox will release the follow-up, “War for the Planet of the Apes,” in theaters on July 14.

“I have loved the Batman story since I was a child. He is such an iconic and compelling character, and one that resonates with me deeply. I am incredibly honored and excited to be working with Warner Bros. to bring an epic and emotional new take on the Caped Crusader to the big screen,” said Reeves in a statement.

Also Read: Chris McKay in Talks to Direct Batman Spinoff ‘Nightwing’ for Warner Bros

Warner Bros. Picture Group President Toby Emmerich added, “We are thrilled to have Matt Reeves taking the helm of Batman, the crown jewel of our DC slate. Matt’s deep roots in genre films and his evolution into an emotional world-building director make him the perfect filmmaker to guide the Dark Knight through this next journey.”

Reeves is repped by CAA.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ Brings Down ‘Lego Batman’ in Fandango Ticket Sales

Every DC Comics Movie Ranked From Worst to Best, Including ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ (Photos)

Every Batman Movie Ranked, Worst to Best (Photos)

“War of the Planet of the Apes” director Matt Reeves has signed on to direct and produce Warner Bros.’ “The Batman,” TheWrap has learned.

The move follows reports that the studio’s talks with Reeves had broken down last week in the latest sign of trouble for the DC Comics property, a standalone follow-up to last year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Ben Affleck was originally set to star in, co-write, and direct “The Batman,” but withdrew as director January 30, citing an inability to give his full focus in all three roles. He is still expected to remain as the star of the film.

Reeves, who is now in post on “War for the Planet of the Apes,” was a former protégé of director J.J. Abrams and made a splash with 2008’s found-footage alien film “Cloverfield.”

He made the leap to event films taking over for Rupert Wyatt on 2014’s  “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” Fox will release the follow-up, “War for the Planet of the Apes,” in theaters on July 14.

“I have loved the Batman story since I was a child. He is such an iconic and compelling character, and one that resonates with me deeply. I am incredibly honored and excited to be working with Warner Bros. to bring an epic and emotional new take on the Caped Crusader to the big screen,” said Reeves in a statement.

Warner Bros. Picture Group President Toby Emmerich added, “We are thrilled to have Matt Reeves taking the helm of Batman, the crown jewel of our DC slate. Matt’s deep roots in genre films and his evolution into an emotional world-building director make him the perfect filmmaker to guide the Dark Knight through this next journey.”

Reeves is repped by CAA.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Jordan Peele's 'Get Out' Brings Down 'Lego Batman' in Fandango Ticket Sales

Every DC Comics Movie Ranked From Worst to Best, Including 'The LEGO Batman Movie' (Photos)

Every Batman Movie Ranked, Worst to Best (Photos)