Why Toby Emmerich Is Warner Bros.' Most Underrated Player
The head of the studio's New Line division is buying projects and could get more freedom in the new structure.
This story first appeared in the July 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
While it might not seem like New Line Cinema chief Toby Emmerich was given many new responsibilities in the recent Warner Bros. reorganization, sources say New Line could experience a resurgence in the new order.
Emmerich, 50, and Warners' New Line division had been under the purview of Jeff Robinov, the recently departed motion picture group president, who many studio insiders say never liked the division. He "wanted to shut it down from the day he got there," says one source with ties to Robinov. Warners even downsized New Line in 2011 and cut its output to about four movies a year as rumors circulated that Emmerich, who has worked at the studio since 1992 and rose through the ranks under former chiefs Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, wasn't long for the job.
But when Warner Bros.' new CEO Kevin Tsujihara took over in January, the winds of change seemed to begin blowing. Tsujihara realigned the film group so that Emmerich not only retained his title of president and COO of New Line, he also added Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures to his portfolio. But more importantly, Emmerich now reports directly to Tsujihara.
While not exactly positioning Emmerich to run all of Warners' film group, as some had speculated before Robinov exited, the recent shifts have created an optimistic mood both inside New Line and in the creative community. "They're a studio again!" says one producer. Emmerich in the past two weeks has acquired a pricey pitch from horror writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift and a spec script with Shawn Levy attached to produce. Producers and agents are hearing that New Line, which before 2008 was a very active developer of material, is opening its doors again. And an even bigger change could be coming. Robinov took control of the movie adaptations of Warners' DC Entertainment properties, but sources say that New Line will once again have access to DC and its creator-owned arm, Vertigo. Notes one insider, "New Line will have more freedom to take chances."
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