Warner Bros. new CEO Kevin Tsujihara said in an interview with TheWrap on Monday that he would focus on maintaining the unique culture of the movie and television studio in a “tough environment.”
He also said he hoped that Warner Bros. television chief Bruce Rosenblum, who was passed over for the top job and announced that he was “disappointed,” would stay at the company.
Tsujihara, 48 and now the highest-ranking Asian-American in Hollywood, said he learned at the end of last week that he had been chosen to lead the studio, taking over from longtime chief Barry Meyer. He will take the helm on March 1.
Also read: Kevin Tsujihara Named Warner Bros. CEO
News of his appointment on Monday came after the studio reaped glory over the weekend, with the political thriller “Argo” winning best picture at the Producers Guild and the best ensemble prize at the Screen Actors Guild.
Tsujihara, who since 2005 has run Warner’s home entertainment division, is associated with driving new digital initiatives at the company, but he told TheWrap his focus would be on maintaining the quality of the studio’s content and its culture.
“If you look at what I think makes Warner Bros so special, it is the culture that we have here,” he said. “This is built over many years, it’s embedded not only in the management here, but is recognized by the creative community. It’s why people want to be here -- Clint [Eastwood] and Chris [Nolan] ... Ben Affleck -- to me that is absolutely critical. That is a huge responsibility to continue that culture and legacy in an environment that is tough. “
Tsujihara said he hoped both Rosenblum and Jeff Robinov, president of the studio, would stay with the company but had not yet had a chance to talk to them.
“Recognize that there’s not been a lot of time to be able to work through these things. It’s my hope that both of them stay,” he said.
Unlike Rosenblum, Robinov issued a statement merely congratulating Tsujihara. Robinov currently has authority to green-light movies. Tsujihara said it was too soon to say whether Robinov would retain that authority under the new structure.
Tsujihara said recent data suggests that home entertainment had finally hit its bottom and that this sector was starting to come back.
“I feel very optimistic about our television business and our movie business and the economics of those businesses and where they’re going,” he said. “As we come off what I hope is a trough as far as home entertainment revenues are at… I think we’re poised for a brighter future than had in last couple of years. “
Tsujihara spearheaded an industry-wide initiative to woo consumers to buy digital versions of their favorite movies and store them in the cloud, called UltraViolet. The initiative has gotten some traction, but is not considered a success – at least not yet.
Asked to comment, Tsujihara said: “We need to continue to innovate and make everything better -- including Ultraviolet. That is something that the industry and Warner Bros. needs to address.”
But he said the studio would continue its leadership role in seeking new revenue streams to replace the decline of DVD sales. Tsujihara was also behind the acquisition of Flixster in May 2011.
“You will continue to see Warner Bros. lead the industry as we have for a long, long time on these initiatives,” he said.