Tim Warner, who helped transform Cinemark Theatres into one of the world's largest movie exhibitors, said Friday that he was ready to leave the company he joined nearly two decades ago.
The Plano, Texas-based chain announced late Thursday that it had tapped Mark Zoradi, 61, a former executive from Walt Disney Co. and DreamWorks Animation, to succeed Warner as chief executive of the nation's third-largest chain. Warner will remain as executive vice chairman to assist in the transition.
Warner, 70, said he'd been planning the executive change with the company's board of directors for nearly two years. He said the time was ripe to have someone else run the company, which operates 503 theaters with 5,720 screens worldwide.
"For the last roughly 20 years I've been going 90 miles an hour at Cinemark," he said. "I just wanted to slow down. I don't want the day-to-day responsibilities of running this company."
Warner said Zoradi's extensive international experience at Disney, where he was president of the studio's Motion Picture Group, made him an ideal candidate for the job.
"It was a perfect fit because he understands international cultures and markets," Warner said.
The son of a copper miner, Warner began his career in the exhibition business as a 10-year-old boy sweeping the floors at at movie theater in Butte, Mont. He helped build a small chain of theaters in Montana and sold the circuit in 1989.
He joined Cinemark in 1996 to help expand the company's international business in Brazil, Mexico and other Latin American countries. He was named CEO five years ago, presiding over a period of rapid growth at Cinemark, which had a record profit in the most recent quarter.
"The company is in excellent financial shape, so I'm exiting at a real high point," Warner said. "I hope people will look at it as: This guy is 70 years old and he deserves what I call 'we time' with his wife and family."