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Blair Rich is stepping from her post as head of Warner Bros.’ marketing division.
The move comes amid the novel coronavirus crisis that has rocked Hollywood, with a number of studio tentpoles moving from 2020 to 2021. But even before the global pandemic shuttered theaters across the world, Warners had endured a string of box office misses in which marketing was blamed.
Rich, who began her 23-year run at the studio as a marketing trainee, has served as president of worldwide marketing at Warners since 2016. In that top post, she oversaw the campaigns for such megahits as The Joker and Aquaman. She reported directly to Warners chairman Toby Emmerich and oversaw the marketing campaigns for releases from Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema.
“It’s been my greatest honor to spend the first chapter of my career at Warner Bros., but after 23 years it’s time for something new,” said Rich. “I am grateful to have worked with so many brilliant executives and treasure the astonishing filmmakers and artists who fueled this job with passion in the pursuit of connecting the global audience to their remarkable spectacles and stories. More than anything, leading the most talented marketing team in the business has been the greatest privilege, and I know there is no limit to what they will continue to achieve in the future.”
Added Emmerich: “Blair has had an amazing run during her tenure at Warner Bros. creating and executing a multitude of unique, compelling and award-winning campaigns. She is a thoughtful leader who is well respected by her staff, peers and filmmakers. Blair has built a great team, and set a standard of excellence which will continue as her legacy here. We understand and are supportive of her desire to expand her horizons and wish her the best in what will undoubtedly be an exciting next phase.”
Rich’s departure comes in the wake of a string of box-office misses for Warners over the past year with disappointing performances for the Margot Robbie-led DC stand-alone Birds of Prey, Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell, Just Mercy starring Michael B. Jordan, Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn and the Ansel Elgort-led The Goldfinch. The big exception was Todd Phillips’ Joker, which earned more than $1 billion worldwide and won two Oscars, including best actor for Joaquin Phoenix.
During her time at Warners, Rich has worked on several DC films, the Fantastic Beasts franchise, The Lego Movie series, Crazy Rich Asians, A Star Is Born and The Conjuring universe.
The news comes one year after Emmerich extended his contract as chairman of Warners’ film group, while Carolyn Blackwood was promoted to the newly created COO role, where she oversees the day-to-day operations at the film studio as well as New Line Cinema and Warners’ live stage division, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures.
It is unclear who will fill the void left by Rich’s departure. J.P. Richards, who reported to Rich, was the highest-ranking executive in the marketing division at Warners. But he was part of this week’s layoffs announced by WarnerMedia.
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