Warner Bros. shake-up: movie chief Jeff Robinov to exit

Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group is said to be leaving the studio. Pictured: Robinov photographed at the Studios in Burbank in 2011
(LIZ O. BAYLEN / Los Angeles Times)

Warner Bros.’ Jeff Robinov is stepping down from the top position at Hollywood’s largest movie studio.

Robinov has served as president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group since 2007. While he has not officially left the studio, he is making arrangements to do so, according to several people at the studio.

The move comes less than a week after Warner Bros.’ latest Superman film, “Man of Steel,” set a record for the biggest June box office opening with more than $113 million in receipts. On Monday, Robinov was surprisingly absent during a champagne celebration on the Burbank lot to mark the record opening, according to three people familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Deadline Hollywood first reported the news on Thursday of Robinov’s planned departure.


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Robinov’s attorney, Skip Brittenham of Ziffren Brittenham Branca Fischer Gilbert-Lurie & Stiffelman, and a public relations consultant for the movie studio, Kelly Bush of ID PR, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Warner Bros. representatives declined to confirm Robinov’s impending exit, or to comment.

An executive at Warner Bros. parent, Time Warner Inc., said that Robinov has been disengaged in recent weeks after losing the coveted job as chairman of Hollywood’s largest movie and TV studio.

For more than two years, the studio has been gripped by management tension and turmoil as three executives -- Robinov on the film side, digital chief Kevin Tsujihara and former TV president Bruce Rosenblum -- all jockeyed to succeed Barry Meyer, who is retiring as chairman at the end of the year.

Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes and Meyer in January selected Tsujihara for the job, saying his temperate and intimate knowledge of digital entertainment made him the right choice to lead the studio as it transitioned into the digital age.

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Tsujihara’s less aggressive personality turned out to be key during the lengthy runoff among the three executives. Bewkes, insiders said, was impressed not only by Tsujihara’s management style but how he handled himself in the tumultuous process.


But the selection, and the awkward corporate bake-off, led to bitterness and hurt feelings for the two men who were passed over.

The competition and infighting between Robinov and Rosenblum had been particularly intense, and pitted executives who worked for them within the two largest divisions in the studio -- TV and movies -- against each other. After the selection, Robinov put on a brave face and congratulated Tsujihara.

Last month, Rosenblum resigned from his position as head of Warner Bros. television. This week, Rosenblum landed a new job at Legendary Entertainment, which has had discussions with Warner Bros. over extending their lucrative co-financing and distribution partnership deal before it expires in December.

Legendary Chief Executive Thomas Tull said the negotiations could be completed in the next two months. Sources said that Tull and Robinov frequently clashed over the distribution of profits from the blockbuster “Dark Knight” films.


Tull has said that Legendary is talking to several studios, including Warner Bros., about a new deal.

There has been speculation for months that Robinov might be on his way out. A Warner Bros. source said he reacted angrily when informed that Tsujihara had been selected to lead the studio. Robinov was the target of a lengthy story in Variety last month, which said he had fallen out of favor with his bosses due to his mercurial disposition and abrasive manner.

Times staff writers Joe Flint, John Horn and Richard Verrier contributed to this report.



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