Kevin Tsujihara has resigned as chairman and CEO of Warner Bros following allegations that he misused his position to get roles for British actress Charlotte Kirk in projects backed by the powerful Hollywood studio, Variety reported.
In a statement reported by Variety, Tsujihara said, “My continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success.”
A statement attributed to WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said, “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 alleged quid pro quo relationship between 54-year-old Tsujihara and 21-year-old Kirk was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter. The publication claimed to have accessed hundreds of messages exchanged between Tsujihara, Kirk, Australian billionaire James Packer and filmmaker Brett Ratner. According to the publication, Kirk and Tsujihara, who is married, were involved in an affair that “devolved into a protracted and increasingly desperate struggle among Tsujihara, Ratner and Packer to manage Kirk’s urgent demands to be cast in movies and TV series”.
Kirk was cast in two Warner Bros productions, How to Be Single (2016) and Ocean’s 8 (2018).
WarnerMedia instituted an investigation into the allegations. According to Variety, the probe is “continuing” with Tsujihara’s “cooperation”.
Tsujihara, who joined the studio in 1994, was “the first executive of Asian decent to head a major Hollywood studio”, CNBC noted. Although Warner Bros under Tsujihara had its most profitable year, in 2017, the studio “struggled to produce DC superhero films at the same caliber of its counterparts at Disney and Marvel Studios,” CNBC added. “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.”