Warner Bros. Distribution Veteran Dan Fellman to Exit at End of Year

Dan Fellman Sue Kroll - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Dan Fellman Sue Kroll - H 2015

As previously planned, Sue Kroll will assume duties of worldwide marketing and distribution.

Warner Bros. domestic distribution chief Dan Fellman, who has been with the studio for nearly four decades, will step down at the end of the year, and president of worldwide marketing and international distribution Sue Kroll will expand her role at the studio.

Kroll will now be president, worldwide marketing and distribution, adding North America distribution to her work.

International distribution chief Veronika Kwan Vandenberg will handle Fellman’s day-to-day responsibilities. She has been promoted to president, worldwide distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

Fellman will finish out the year before he retires. It's been known for some time that the studio vet would be stepping down soon and that Kroll's duties would be expanding.

“Sue and Veronika are great executives with global perspectives and expertise that will serve this new structure well,” said Kevin Tsujihara, chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. “Veronika has headed up our international distribution for the last 15 years and we know she’ll bring the same thoughtful, strategic management to our domestic film operations. And, Sue is widely known and respected for her acumen and success in marketing and distribution in the global film marketplace. Dan has been a formidable force in the distribution world, and there’s no one better to continue his great work on our behalf than Veronika and Sue.”

Fellman has been with Warner Bros. for 37 years. He helped the studio gross more than $1 billion domestically for 15 consecutive years (including 2015). More than 70 movies have earned more than $100 million domestically. The long list of films he worked on includes the hugely successful American Sniper, the Harry Potter franchise, The Dark Knight Trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy. He's served in his currently post since 1999, and previously held a series of executive domestic distribution positions at Warner Bros.

“While Dan’s role was to run domestic distribution for Warner Bros., he really helped shape and lead the entire theatrical distribution business,” said Tsujihara. “It goes without saying he’s been an invaluable asset to the company, and he’s also been incredibly important and helpful to me personally.  A couple of years ago, I asked him to stay on to help me—and Warner Bros.—through the executive transition.  He graciously agreed, and now we’re at a place where we both feel the time is right to make this change.  We will miss him tremendously.”

"It's been a long good-bye, but, look, I'm very happy about this day. It's been five years in coming," Fellman said, explaining that he first began discussing the move with Warners management five years ago, but then when Alan Horn stepped down as Warners president in 2011, he agreed to stay on to assist Jeff Robinov, then president of the motion picture group. When Tsujihara was named Warner chairman and CEO and installed a new executive team in 2013, Fellman again postponed his departure to assist in that transition. "And it was a great decision, because not only did I enjoy it, but I made a friend in Kevin," Fellman added.

Looking at the changes in the exhibition during his nearly four decades, Fellman noted that "theaters are not just theaters anymore. They are destination centers. I'm thrilled that exhibitors are healthy now, because we went through years when they weren't. But people are going to the movies."

He also looked back at some of the landmarks the studio has achievement during his tenure, noting with pride that Warners has already hit the $1 billion mark in domestic grosses this year, marking the 15th year in a row that the studio has passed the $1 billion barrier -- and it do so "without a superhero or a Harry Potter movie." He recalled watching as Richard Donner's 1978 Superman opened to $7.5 million, a record at the time, and as 2011's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 hit another record when its first midnight showings attracted a massive $43.5 million.

While Fellman will continue to do some consulting for the company as well as for filmmaker Clint Eastwood — and also expects to take on other clients — he admitted it will be hard to break a lifelong habit of checking box office numbers every night at 11:30 p.m. or midnight and then again first thing in the morning at 6 a.m. "It's become a pattern," he said. "It will probably take a couple of years to slow down."

July 29, 2015, 4:19 pm Updated with Fellman's comments.