Top-Level Shakeup Continues at Warner Bros.

June 21, 2013  •  Post A Comment

[Updated at 10:27 a.m. PT on 6-21-13 to reflect the latest information on this story.]

"Warner Bros. film chief Jeff Robinov will soon begin negotiating his exit from the studio," reports The Hollywood Reporter, following up on an earlier exclusive first reported by Nikki Finke at Deadline.com.

Finke corrected her original story, which said that Robinov was leaving because he wasn’t offered a new contract once his current one expires in December. Finke’s update reads: "I’ve learned that Jeff Robinov’s attorney Skip Brittenham officially notified Warner Bros. on Thursday that it is in breach of the movie mogul’s contract, and he wants to negotiate his exit."

Says the THR story, Robinov’s "contract is not up until 2014, but the studio is not expected to renew his deal. He has been taking meetings around Hollywood in search of a new job. While formal exit negotiations have not yet begun, sources say the situation is heating up and a departure is a mere formality."

In Variety’s follow-up to Finke’s exclusive, it says: "Jeff Robinov isn’t happy in his job, nor is Warner Bros. happy with him.."

In her Deadline story, Finke writes that both the newly crowned chief of Warner Bros., Kevin Tsujihara, and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes allegedly put Robinov in what Finke calls a "cone of silence." That experience reportedly included Tsujihara sitting near Robinov on a cross-country plane trip and refusing to speak a word to him, even though the two men were seated across from each other, according to the story.

Finke also writes that neither Bewkes nor Tsujihara called Robinov to congratulate him after the successful opening of "Man of Steel" or any other of the studio’s summer releases, including "The Great Gatsby" and "The Hangover Part III." 

However, the Variety story says, "While ‘Man of Steel’ had a strong opening and ‘The Hangover Part III’ has performed solidly, tracking for Warner Bros.’ big-budget July 12 release ‘Pacific Rim,’ of which Legendary owns 75%, has been weak. WB is coming off of a disappointing first quarter, with a string of box office misfires, among them ‘Gangster Squad’ and New Line Cinema’s ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ and ‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.’ "

Also, according to the Variety story, "Robinov has been openly expressing his discontent at the studio ever since losing a nearly three-year runoff in January to succeed Barry Meyer as chairman-CEO of the studio [to Tsujihara]. In recent weeks [Robinov's] anger and unhappiness have been even more evident, say people who work with him."

Variety adds that Robinov "has been telling his colleagues that he doesn’t see a future for himself at Warner Bros. because his bosses have not given him a vote of confidence and assurances that they want him to stay after his current deal expires."

The Variety story says some of Robinov’s "impolitic behavior" includes "him hanging up on Meyer when he delivered the news that home entertainment honcho Tsujihara had been selected as his successor — [and] has hurt [Robinov] with the Warner Bros. brass despite his skills as a creative executive."

As previously reported, Bruce Rosenblum, the former top-ranking Warner Bros. executive on the TV side of the business – who also was in the runoff with then Home Entertainment chief Tsujihara to head up all of Warner Bros. – recently left the studio to join Legendary Entertainment.  

Interestingly, both Variety and Deadline.com are owned — through companies with various names — by Jay Penske. The Deadline story looks at the Robinov story from the point-of-view of Robinov and his supporters, while the Variety story takes the more traditional journalism approach of looking at the story from the point-of-view of both Robinov and Warner Bros.

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