July 7, 2022

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Credit…Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

Jason Kilar, the head of WarnerMedia who came aboard with ambitious plans for the company’s stand-alone streaming service and wound up serving half his tenure effectively as a lame duck, announced on Tuesday that he was leaving the company.

The departure, which had been widely expected, comes days before WarnerMedia is set to complete a merger with Discovery Inc. and a new leadership team comes aboard.

“Leading this team has been the honor my lifetime,” Mr. Kilar wrote in a memo to staff. “My heart is so full, and I am beyond thankful to each of you. There is no better team on the planet, and I will savor every last step as I wander the lot in Burbank several more times this week, with this team on my mind always.”

Mr. Kilar was hired by John Stankey, the chief executive of AT&T, WarnerMedia’s parent company, in April 2020, just weeks into a global pandemic, and a month before HBO Max, the company’s streaming service, was set to debut.

Mr. Kilar, a founder of Hulu and a veteran of Amazon, was focused on getting the company’s streaming service onto steady ground. Months into his tenure, Mr. Kilar set about enacting a plan dubbed “Project Popcorn,” his most contentious decision. With the pandemic raging, Mr. Kilar announced in a December 2020 post on Medium that the Warner Bros. 2021 film slate would be released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, a decision that blindsided most filmmakers and their representatives.

Streaming analysts applauded the decision, and HBO Max did have a strong year. HBO and HBO Max finished 2021 with more than 70 million global subscribers, beating internal expectations, according to AT&T.

But the decision landed like a thud in creative circles in Hollywood. Richard Lovett, co-chairman of the Creative Artists Agency, called it the “epitome of a self-interested corporate maneuver intended to…

The New York Times

2022-04-05 12:00:13

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