Warner Bros. executive Toby Emmerich gave a shoutout to the studio’s ousted Chairman and Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara, saying he left his mark “indelibly” on the company.
Emmerich, who is chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, thanked his former boss, who led the Burbank studio for six years until his abrupt exit last month amid accusations that he helped an actress land roles after they had an extramarital affair.
“There is someone who isn’t here in Vegas today but has left his mark indelibly on its history,” Emmerich said Tuesday during remarks at CinemaCon, the theater industry’s annual trade show in Las Vegas. “[He is] responsible for one of the greatest periods of financial growth of our company and for leading us to become a more diverse and inclusive studio in our executive ranks and more importantly with our talent.”
The remarks were met with applause from the audience, which was made up of a mix of theater owners and fellow studio higher-ups.
Tsujihara was forced to resign after the Hollywood Reporter published salacious text messages between him and British actress Charlotte Kirk, who later got small roles in Warner Bros. films. Tsujihara was accused of trying to help Kirk, now 26, get roles in Warner Bros. TV shows and movies.
Speaking to the CinemaCon crowd, Emmerich credited Tsujihara with leading the company to $5.6 billion in global box office sales in 2018, a record for the company propelled by films including “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Aquaman” and “A Star Is Born.”
“None of the movies in that record-breaking year … could’ve happened without his support and encouragement,” Emmerich said. “So a big ‘thank you’ from all of us at Warner Bros., and a special wish from me for godspeed, to Kevin Tsujihara.”
Leading up to the Warner Bros. presentation, it was unclear how the studio would handle the fallout from the Tsujihara allegations. There was speculation among attendees about whether anyone from the company would mention the former executive, given the heightened focus on inappropriate sexual behavior in Hollywood and the business world in general.
Tsujihara’s exit has left AT&T Inc.-owned WarnerMedia, and its CEO John Stankey, to look for a new leader for one of Hollywood’s biggest studios. The company put an interim team — Emmerich, TV boss Peter Roth and Chief Financial Officer Kim Williams — in charge of the unit.