Jason Killer, head of WarnerMedia, who came to the ship with ambitious plans for the company’s stand-alone streaming service and effectively served half his term as a lame duck, announced on Tuesday that he was leaving the company.
The departure comes just days before the much-anticipated merger with WarnerMedia Discovery Inc. And a new leadership team comes aboard.
“It has been my lifelong honor to lead this team,” he said. Killer wrote to staff in a memo. “My heart is full, and I am grateful to each of you. There is no better team on earth than this, and I will enjoy every last step as I wander around Burbank several times this week, this team is always in my mind. “
Mr. Killer was hired by John Stankey, chief executive of WarnerMedia’s parent company, AT&T, in April 2020, a few weeks before the global epidemic week, and a month before the company’s streaming service, HBO Max, was set to debut.
Mr. Hulu’s founder and Amazon veteran, Killer focused on bringing the company’s streaming service to a stable ground. During the months of his tenure, Shri. Killer planned to devise a plan known as “Project Popcorn”, his most controversial decision. With the outbreak of the epidemic, Mr. Killer announced in a December 2020 post on Medium that Warner Bros. The 2021 film will be released simultaneously in slate theaters and on HBO Max, a decision that caught the eye of most filmmakers and their representatives.
Streaming analysts applauded the decision and HBO Max’s year remained strong. According to AT&T, HBO and HBO Max ended 2021 with over 70 million global subscribers, beating internal expectations.
But the decision came as a shock to Hollywood’s creative circles. Richard Lowett, co-chairman of the Creative Artists Agency, called it a “symbol of self-interested corporate maneuvering to benefit your company while ruining the industry.” He was criticized by filmmakers such as Dennis Villanueva, Christopher Nolan and David Chase.
As Mr. Killer was implementing his vision, his boss at AT&T was secretly planning to break out of the entertainment business. In February 2021, one month at Project Popcorn, Mr. Stankey began discussions with Discovery’s chief executive, David Zaslav, about the merger, which lasted until March and April.
Mr. Stanky kept Mr. The killer was in the dark until days before the deal was announced in May. Mr. Zaslav will take over the joint Warner Bros. Discovery Company Once the merger is finalized.
Mr. Killer also oversaw the departure of CNN chief Jeff Zucker in February 2022, making headlines for weeks. Mr. Zucker said he was leaving because he had a love affair with his subordinate, Alison Golst, and the company had failed to disclose it. Mr. Killer offered some details and an alternative explanation, much to the chagrin of most CNN staff.
Two weeks later, Mr. Killar told the staff members that Mr. Zakir and Ms. Golst had “violated company policies,” including CNN’s news standards and practices, a charge both denied.