Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara ousted after sexual misconduct allegations

Key Points
  • Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara has been ousted.
  • Tsujihara remains under investigation for sexual misconduct allegations.
  • The company has yet to name a successor for Tsujihara.
Kevin Tsujihara, chairman and chief executive officer of Warner Bros Entertainment Inc.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara has been ousted after an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations.

"Kevin has contributed greatly to the studio's success over the past 25 years and for that we thank him," WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said in a statement Monday. "Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the company's leadership expectations and could impact the company's ability to execute going forward."

The company has yet to name a successor for Tsujihara.

Warner Brothers Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara will step down
Warner Brothers Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara will step down

Tsujihara was being investigated for allegedly promising acting roles in exchange for sex. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to report such allegations in early March.

THR's report included text messages between Tsujihara and British actress Charlotte Kirk going back to 2013. WarnerMedia had previously said that a prior investigation did not find any misconduct in Kirk's casting in films like "Oceans 8."

Some of these messages seemed to imply that Kirk believed she was used to help close a $450 million co-financing deal between Warner Bros. and RatPac Entertaintment, a production company owned by Australian billionaire James Packer and his business partner Brett Ratner.

RatPac Entertainment was a major partner of Warner Bros' films like "Justice League," "It" and "Kong: Skull Island."

"I emphatically deny any inappropriate behaviour on the part of Brett Ratner, James Packer, and Kevin Tsujihara, and I have no claims against any of them," Kirk said in her statement at the time. "Mr. Tsujihara never promised me anything."

Actress Charlotte Kirk
Paul Archuleta | FilmMagic | Getty Images

Ratner was accused of sexual misconduct in 2017 by several women, which he denied. Warner Bros. cut ties with him and his company in 2018.

WarnerMedia, which is owned by AT&T, said it is continuing to work with a third-party law firm to complete its investigation with Tsujihara's cooperation.

Tsuijhara, 54, had been with the WarnerMedia unit for more than 24 years. He became CEO in early 2013 and became chairman position later that year. Tsuijhara, the first executive of Asian decent to head a major Hollywood studio, led Warner Bros. to have its most profitable year ever in 2017.

However, also under Tsuijhara's tenure, Warner Bros. struggled to produce DC superhero films at the same caliber of its counterparts at Disney and Marvel Studios. It wasn't until 2017's "Wonder Woman" that the studio found true success, taking in $821 million in ticket sales worldwide. A year later, "Aquaman" became the first DC film to cross the $1 billion mark.

After first announcing a deal to acquire Time Warner in 2016, AT&T closed the merger in June 2018. With Tsuijhara's departure, all of the management that joined AT&T from Time Warner is now gone. Jeff Bewkes, former CEO of Time Warner; John Martin, former CEO of Turner and Richard Plepler, former CEO of HBO, have all departed the company in the last year.

AT&T's stock remained relatively unchanged in midday trading.