WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar resigns

Jason Kilar has resigned as CEO of WarnerMedia effective this Friday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

His tenure at WarnerMedia has been in question for about a year, ever since WarnerMedia parent company AT&T announced it was combining its media assets with Discovery’s to form a new publicly traded company called Warner Bros. Discovery. That $43 billion merger will bring together Discovery’s cable network and streaming service portfolio with Warner Bros., HBO and Turner.

When the merger was announced, it was agreed that the combined company would be led by Discovery CEO David Zaslav, fueling speculation over whether Kilar would remain at AT&T in a different position or leave the company, according to The Desk.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Kilar said he has no immediate plans for his next step.

But apparently, he sent his memo to staff informing them of his departure right before he went on CNBC, where he discussed the Discovery merger and the streaming industry.

Kilar, who was known to take risks, decided to release the entire 2021 slate of Warner Bros. movies on the nascent HBO Max direct-to-consumer streaming service at the same time as introducing them in movie theaters, sparking concern that this would harm Warner Bros. movie business.

Asked about this in the CNBC interview, Kilar said, "I think over the full arc of media’s history the consumer always gets to make the decision in terms of where this all goes. And I do believe there’s going to be a healthy theatrical business for decades to come. But it’s going to be different. I do believe there’s going to be a lot of convenience with regards to people watching more motion pictures in the home. I don’t see the decline of one coming at the expense of the other.”

The WarnerMedia, Discovery deal is expected to close by next Monday. Zaslav hasn’t indicated that he will replace Kilar. Rather, he’s likely to rely on a handful of his Discovery lieutenants at first.