Toby Emmerich, film executive and Picture Group chairman, is stepping down at Warner Bros. Emmerich was named chairman in 2018 and immediately saw ownership changes within the company. First, the company was sold to AT&T. However, massive debt and a shift in focus to building out a 5G network forced AT&T to sell, this time to Discovery. Emmerich is not completely gone, as he was offered a five-year production deal. David Zaslav has chosen longtime producers Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy to oversee the Burbank-based film division.
De Luca and Abdy most recently oversaw MGM’s movie operations; however, they announced they would leave the company this summer, leading to speculation about where they would end up. With the change of scenery, decisions will need to be made regarding franchises within the DCEU and the Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts. Neither franchise has done well with audiences, or critics, with many fans believing they should rethink their strategy entirely. Additionally, with the success of The Batman and Joker, Warner Bros. may review its extended universe and focus on solo character films instead. There is significant pressure on upcoming releases like Black Adam, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and The Flash, which are due in theaters in 2023. These titles must perform well for the company, or a significant change to DC may be in order.
Read Toby Emmerich’s Full Statement
Deadline reported on Emmerich’s departure letter, which can be read in full below.
After 21 years at New Line and Warner Bros., and a lot of long walks and soul-searching conversations with Zas, I’ve decided to step down from my role as Chairman at the end of the summer. Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy will be coming in to take the reins at the WB Pictures Group. In the interim, Walter, Carolyn, Courtenay, and Richard will continue to report me. Throughout these 21 years – from New Line on Robertson through 2.o in Burbank to the amazing Warner Bros. Pictures Group I’m so privileged to work with now – we as a team have dreamed big, achieved bigger, and managed to stay true to each other and to the art form that draws all of us to this company and this business. Most of all, we’ve made some beautiful, challenging, bar-raising, paradigm-shifting movies that have left the world a little richer, a little scarier, and a lot more fun – from ELF to Wedding Crashers, from The Notebook to IT, six movies from Middle Earth and of course, The Batman. I’ve been given a lot for our successes, but on each and every film there have been talented executives and team members from development, deal making, physical production, marketing and distribution that have over delivered and made magic happen. These are your successes as much as they are mine and I am forever grateful for all of your creative vision, passion and tireless devotion to your projects and filmmaking teams. I’ll always love this Studio and will be here to guide the motion picture group through the summer as Mike and Pam transition to their leadership roles at its end. Mike and I worked together at New Line, and he’s a super talented and creative executive. Carolyn, Courtenay, Richard, and Walter will still lead this group as fearlessly as they always have. I’ll be cheering them and all of you on from a production company office on this beautiful lot. I’m proud of all of it and can only say thanks. I’ll see you on the other side. Toby.