Three months after Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara was fired, the studio has found an unlikely replacement. While a number of executives were no doubt vying for the job, including some inside Warner Bros., parent company WarnerMedia has seen fit to hire Ann Sarnoff for the role. Sarnoff previously served as a BBC Studios America executive after working for the likes of Dow Jones and the WNBA, and will begin her job as Warner Bros. CEO later this summer. She is the first woman to head Warner Bros. in the legendary film studio’s near 100-year history.
“I am delighted Ann is joining the WarnerMedia team and excited to work side by side with such a talented and accomplished individual. She brings a consistent and proven track record of innovation, creativity and business results to lead an incredibly successful studio to its next chapter of growth,” said WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey. “Ann has shown the ability to innovate and grow revenues and has embraced the evolution taking place in our industry. I am confident she will be a great cultural fit for WarnerMedia and that our employees will embrace her leadership, enthusiasm and passion for our business.”
“It is a privilege to join a studio with such a storied history. Warner Bros. has been an industry leader for decades and is known for creating many of the most iconic film, television and gaming properties,” said Sarnoff. “I accept this position excited by the opportunity to work with the most accomplished executives and teams in media, and confident about carrying this incredible heritage forward with them.”
Sarnoff joins Warner Bros. as the studio is in the midst of positioning itself as a competitor in a changing media landscape. Tsujihara struggled to get the DC Extended Universe off the ground, tapping Zack Snyder to oversee things before the reception to Batman v Superman forced them to change course mid-stream. Recently, Walter Hamada was appointed president of DC Films and has found success in individualizing movies like Aquaman, Shazam!, and the upcoming Joker.
Additionally, Sarnoff inherits the ongoing Wizarding World franchise, which hit a bit of a speed bump in the underperforming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The sequel, Fantastic Beasts 3, has been delayed to further work on the script.
But the biggest challenge facing Sarnoff is competing with the likes of Netflix and Amazon, with WarnerMedia readying to launch a streaming service of its own that houses library film and television titles as well as original content.
It’ll be interesting to see what the direction of Warner Bros. is with Sarnoff at the helm, and while I don’t know much about her background, on the surface I have to say it’s nice to see WarnerMedia hiring a woman for the job. Especially since her predecessor left in disgrace.