Bewkes Hails Warner Studio Chief Kevin Tsujihara as ‘Most Forward-Thinking’ Executive8 May, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes reiterated why in January he chose veteran home entertainment executive Kevin Tsujihara to replace retiring Barry Meyer to run the famed Warner Bros. studio — a decision that surprised most observers at the time.
During a May 7 presentation at the Jeffries 2013 Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in New York, Bewkes said Tsujihara was the most “forward-thinking” executive at Warner to meld the increasing demands and expectations being placed on the studio’s TV and film divisions in the digital age.
The CEO said he admired Tsujihara’s broad personal relations within the studio and industry, coupled with a strong financial and strategic background. Tsujihara, who joined the studio 19 years ago, previously headed Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.
“He’s proving out to be the best choice to unify not only the people at Warner, but also the experience on the theatrical side, the TV production side and the distribution side: video, games and all the new businesses,” Bewkes said.
As Warner expands its footprint internationally — 15% of revenue in 2012 was generated abroad — the studio chief is increasingly responsible for not only what movies and TV shows are greenlighted, but also how they are distributed, most notably via erstwhile cash cow: home entertainment.
Indeed, Tsujihara was instrumental in bowing transactional VOD access of new releases on retail street date. He helped pioneer the launch of UltraViolet, Walmart’s disc-to-digital program, movie rentals on Facebook and the recent crowdsourcing campaign to fund a “Veronica Mars” movie.
Bewkes said it was important to have someone in charge who understands not only Warner Bros., but also premium channel HBO and Turner Networks, among other content properties.
“That’s why Kevin was the clear choice for that,” he said.
Tsujihara, who, along with Warner TV president Bruce Rosenblum and motion picture group president Jeff Robinov, had been part of an executive management trio called the Office of the President, reportedly raised eyebrows due his lack of experience in movie and TV show production, according a March 25 Wall Street Journal article.
Bewkes didn’t address specifics, choosing instead to laud current management teams at the TV, film and distribution units. He did note that “inside” industry media reporting about unspecified studio matters were incorrect.
“Things are working out quite well,” Bewkes said.