Warner Bros Discovery is restructuring its film division, starting with outgoing MGM heads Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy replacing Toby Emmerich as head of Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema, and with DC and Animation divisions expected to have new leaders reporting directly to Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav.
De Luca and Abdy will not start until they’ve officially exited MGM, which Amazon acquired earlier this year. As for Emmerich, he will start a new production venture that will have a five-year financing and distribution deal with Warner Bros.
DC Films President Walter Hamada is also expected to exit after a new leader is found for his division, according to an insider. As part of the reorganization, Warner will have a three separate film silos: a Warner/New Line division led by DeLuca and Abdy; a DC division; and an animated unit led by another executive who has yet to be named.
The fate of Emmerich’s lieutenants, New Line’s Rich Brener and Warner Bros Motion Pictures Group COO Carolyn Blackwood, remains unclear, as does that of Warner Animation Group’s EVP and top producer Allison Abbate.
In statements released Wednesday afternoon, both Zaslav and Emmerich characterized the latter’s role change from studio executive to producer as a mutual decision.
“I have known Toby for many years and have tremendous respect for his vision and ability to create extraordinary cinematic experiences. He has led a best-in-class studio team and was the driving force behind an incredible, diverse collection of films and series. Toby is also an exceptional person and longtime friend to me and to many and I am personally very happy to continue our working relationship,” Zaslav said.
“I am thrilled that he’s chosen to remain a part of our Warner Bros. Discovery family with this long-term production deal and look forward to seeing the fantastic stories that he and his team will create for us in the years ahead,” he continued.
“It has been an honor and a pleasure to be part of this storied company these last three decades and to lead the world-class Warner Bros. film studio team, and I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to accomplish together,” said Emmerich in his own statement. “This seemed like the perfect time to transition to something new and I am excited to be pursuing my passion for storytelling in a more hands-on way with my own production company.”
In late April, both De Luca and Abdy announced they would exit their roles as Motion Picture Group chairman and president this summer after Amazon completed its $8.5 billion acquisition of the storied studio.
The move is a homecoming for DeLuca, who joined Warner’s New Line Cinema as an intern at age 19 and rose to president of production. In 2001, after a series of big-budget flops like Adam Sandler’s “Little Nicky” and Kevin Costner’s “13 Days,” DeLuca was sacked from the studio — and replaced by Toby Emmerich.
DeLuca then moved to DreamWorks before heading into film production. In 2020, he took over as chairman of MGM’s Motion Picture Group, following Jonathan Glickman’s departure after a nine-year tenure, and Abdy joined as the Motion Picture Group president shortly thereafter. De Luca’s resignation came as a shock to many within the organization, even as others await the fate of TV head Mark Burnett and whether he will remain within Amazon.
DeLuca has developed a reputation for nurturing his relationships with talent — and his knack for paying a premium to land projects like Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Best Picture nominee “Licorice Pizza,” though neither was a box office hit. He also navigated the release of the final James Bond movie “No Time to Die,” as well as Channing Tatum’s low-budget “Dog” from earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Warner has been in a state of flux as it has scaled back on theatrical releases and focused increasingly on streaming originals for the company’s HBO Max platform — a strategy that new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has signaled he intends to change.
Emmerich, a former screenwriter and music supervisor, served as president and COO of New Line Cinema before he replaced Greg Silverman as President and Chief Content Officer of Warner Bros. Pictures in 2016.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.