Warner Brothers Studio Chief Said to Be Weighing Exit

June 21st, 2013

LOS ANGELES — The president of the Warner Brothers Pictures Group, Jeff Robinov, was in still-unresolved discussions to leave the studio late Thursday, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

News of Mr. Robinov’s impending exit, according to these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, blindsided Warner executives, many of whom were still celebrating the studio’s box-office win last weekend with “Man of Steel.”

Mr. Robinov did not return calls. Warner representatives declined to comment.

For months, Hollywood has speculated that Mr. Robinov would not survive a broader leadership shake-up at the studio. A brooding, mercurial executive who has strong relationships with filmmakers, Mr. Robinov was publicly passed over in January for Warner’s top job; a two-year competition to replace Barry M. Meyer as chief executive ended with the selection of Kevin Tsujihara, the studio’s former home entertainment president.

Another spurned candidate for Mr. Meyer’s job, the TV executive Bruce Rosenblum, left Warner last month.

Mr. Robinov’s selection of movies often kept Warner in first place among Hollywood’s major studios. Last year, Warner’s films took in $ 1.7 billion at the North American box office, powered by hits like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” Mr. Robinov was also behind the “Dark Knight” and “Hangover” franchises.

Warner’s “Argo” won best picture at the most recent Oscars.

But Mr. Robinov also failed to create a clear strategy for mining the studio’s DC Comics division, even as Marvel introduced one superhero smash hit after another. Disappointments included “Jack the Giant Slayer” and films from the Wachowski siblings, whom he once represented as an agent and to whom he remained loyal at Warner even after they delivered the 2008 misfire “Speed Racer.”

Mr. Robinov has also had a tense relationship with Legendary Pictures, a major financing and production partner. Legendary has said it may leave Warner when its contract expires later this year. “There is problem-solving going on,” Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner’s chief executive, told analysts in February when asked about tensions with Legendary, a comment interpreted in Hollywood as referring to Mr. Robinov.

With Mr. Robinov’s possible resignation, which was first reported by the trade news Web site Deadline.com, the upper reaches of Hollywood have definitively emerged from a period of stability. Studio chiefs like Ron Meyer at Universal and Amy Pascal at Sony Pictures have held their jobs for well over a decade, but other companies, including Disney and 20th Century Fox, have recently endured significant management changes.

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