(Above Jeff Robinov and his wife, Nicole.)
Despite the importance of MAN OF STEEL in the futures of both Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, its greater than expected success ($400 mil and counting worldwide) wasn’t enough to salvage the job of studio head Jeff Robinov, who has been officially removed, to be replaced by Sue Kroll, in charge of marketing and distribution, and Greg Silverman, who will run production. Toby Emmerich stays on at New Line. In their bios, all were happy to be involved with Batman, MAN OF STEEL, or even 300—strangely no one seemed to have been around when GREEN LANTERN was green-lit.
Kroll was named President, Worldwide Marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures in January 2008 and has led enormously successful campaigns for a broad range of motion pictures, including most recently “Man of Steel,” “The Great Gatsby” and last year’s Academy Award Best Picture winner, “Argo.” Other prominent campaigns include the billion-dollar blockbusters “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” as well as “Inception” and the final installments of the Harry Potter series.
Silverman has been President, Production, Warner Bros. Pictures since April 2011 and played a key role in recent box-office successes, including “The Great Gatsby,” directed by Baz Luhrmann, “Argo” from director Ben Affleck and “The Dark Knight Rises,” directed by Christopher Nolan. As a creative executive, Silverman also shepherded the commercially successful and critically acclaimed “300,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Hangover” and the global phenomenon “Inception,” among other films.
Robinov’s ouster was inevitable following the ascension of Kevin “The Ninja Assassin” Tsujihara, who won a brutal three-man race to become head of WB. Both of the other contestants—Robinov and TV’s Bruce Rosenblum—are now gone.
Nikki Finke’s piece on Robinov’s ouster on Friday was a masterpiece. If these male execs who head billion-dollar companies were plopped down into a Gossip Girl episode you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference: “Kevin wouldn’t talk to me on the plane ride,” Muffy complained. “Jeff left the party early in a snit!” Antigone confided.
Witnesses tell me that on the LA to NY plane trip to the Superman premiere June 10th, Tsujihara sat for the five hours not saying a word to Robinov who was sitting opposite him. This cruel behavior was in full view of not only Robinov’s execs but also of the Man Of Steel filmmakers like Christopher Nolan whom Robinov had brought to the studio. I’m told that at the Red Carpet gala at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, which should have been his triumph, Robinov left demoralized after just 15 minutes. This, after he and Tsujihara used to be close friends who went on family vacations together.
So that’s over then. Meanwhile, another patch of rapids lies ahead of the WB canoe in the form of where Legendary will end up. The mini-studio run by Thomas Tull—which provides financing for many of WB’s biggest hits—is shopping for a new home. According to Finke it might be NBCU, Fox, Sony, or Warner Bros. Reportedly Tull and Robinov weren’t on the best terms so maybe this means adds a little more impetus for Legendary to stay put. On the other hand Legendary hired ousted WB exec Rosenblum to run its TV division so…what were we just saying about Gossip Girl?
While Robinov has been has been praised as a sensitive talent-handler who brought films like INCEPTION and ARGO into being, it’s also very well known that he didn’t “get” the superhero genre. I’m not sure whether the new crew in charge of WB gets them any better but we’ll try to find out!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.