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Warner Bros. movie chief Jeff Robinov said to be planning exit

Robinov's expected departure comes months after he lost the fight to succeed Barry Meyer as chairman and CEO of Hollywood's largest film and TV studio.

June 22, 2013|By Daniel Miller and Meg James, Los Angeles Times
  • Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, is said to be planning to leave the company.
Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, is said to be planning… (Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles…)

The hard-fought battle over who would run Warner Bros. ended months ago, but there may be more casualties.

Jeff Robinov, head of Warner Bros.' movie unit, is planning to exit the company, according to several people at the studio who asked not to be identified because they were discussing internal personnel matters. Robinov's expected departure comes less than a month after the resignation of Bruce Rosenblum, chief of Warner Bros. Television Group.

Both Robinov and Rosenblum lost the fight to succeed Barry Meyer as chairman and chief executive of Hollywood's largest film and television studio. Instead, Kevin Tsujihara, the former home entertainment chief, won the runoff to control Warner Bros., which boasts such movies as "Man of Steel" and TV shows including "The Big Bang Theory."

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Robinov, 54, has not officially left the studio. He has served as president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group since 2007 and his contract is set to expire next year. Robinov did not return calls for comment.

The expected shakeout comes in the aftermath of Warner Bros.' grueling succession fight. For more than two years the studio was gripped by management tension and turmoil as Robinov, Rosenblum and Tsujihara jockeyed to succeed Meyer. Tsujihara won the bake-off and was named chief executive in January. He will assume Meyer's chairmanship at the end of the year. Warner Bros. is a unit of Time Warner Inc.

Word of Robinov's impending departure came less than a week after the studio's new 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 notably absent during a Champagne celebration on the Burbank lot to mark the record opening, according to three people who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

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Robinov's attorney, Skip Brittenham of Ziffren Brittenham Branca Fischer Gilbert-Lurie & Stiffelman, declined to comment. Warner Bros. representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

In typical Hollywood fashion, observers have already begun speculating about where Robinov would land next. There are no obvious openings at rival studios, but given his strong track record at Warner Bros. and solid relations with the creative community, Robinov is likely to attract interest.

Conversely, Robinov is also known for having sharp elbows. He responded angrily to Meyer when he was told that he had been passed over in favor of Tsujihara, according to a person with knowledge of the incident.

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

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

daniel.miller@latimes.com

meg.james@latimes.com

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