After months of speculation, Warner Bros.’ film head Greg Silverman is exiting the studio. Toby Emmerich, currently president and COO of New Line Cinema, has been promoted to president and chief content officer, and will have creative oversight of both Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema.
Silverman, who has been with the studio since 1997, will turn his focus to a start-up backed by and based at Warner Bros.
The longtime exec has been serving as president, creative development and worldwide production, since 2013. In June of that year, Kevin Tsujihara put the studio’s operations in the hands of a triumvirate that includes Silverman, Emmerich and Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing and distribution.
There have been repeated rumors over the past few years that Silverman would exit as the studio suffered some less-than-optimal performances at the box office, but he re-upped in January in a deal that was expected to last three years.
Sources say that Warners is hosting a company-wide meeting about the changes on Wednesday afternoon. Emmerich will not only oversee both Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema, but will see further increase in power as he’ll now share greenlight authority with Tsujihara. The shake-up comes as AT&T is in the midst of buying Time Warner for $85 billion.
In the past two years, the studio has seen several box-office bombs, the biggest of which was 2015’s Pan, which grossed a dismal $127 million worldwide. Also in 2015, Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. collected just $109.6 million globally, while the Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending bombed as well.
Even the studio’s DC superhero films, which were expected to be home runs, suffered from poor reviews. This year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice earned $873.3 million globally and Suicide Squad took in $745.6 million worldwide.
Emmerich has been running Warner Bros.’ sister division since 2008, making consistently profitable comedies and horror movies due to smart budgeting. This year alone, New Line released Central Intelligence ($217 million worldwide) and The Conjuring 2 ($320 million worldwide). Emmerich joined the company in 1992, and prior to his current post, also held the position of president of production, to which he was promoted in 2001. When Emmerich took the production helm at New Line, he oversaw the massive Hobbit franchise.