Kevin Tsujihara was named the next chief executive of the Warner Bros. studio, one of the oldest and the largest producers of TV shows and movies in Hollywood. He'll take over from Barry Meyer on March 1.
Tsujihara, 48, has been president of the studio's home entertainment division since 2005. He said one of his key priorities will be maintaining continuity at the studio, which traces back its corporate roots to 1923 and the founding brothers, Albert, Sam, Harry and Jack.
"We've had four management teams in 90 years," Tsujihara said in an interview. "From my perspective, the thing we absolutely have to safeguard is the culture here at Warner Bros."
That culture includes nurturing artists and doing things first, he said. In 1927, Warner Bros. released the first "talkie," ''The Jazz Singer." It has taken a lead role in introducing the DVD and later high-definition Blu-ray discs. In late 2011, it was the first studio to launch home movies in "UltraViolet," a system that gives consumers online access to their disc libraries.
"We've been very aggressive on new business models and new technologies. That's something I would continue to expect going forward," he said.
Jeff Bewkes, the chief executive of Warner Bros. parent Time Warner Inc., said in a statement Monday that Tsujihara was the right leader for the studio, combining strategic thinking with financial discipline.
"Kevin is one of the most effective and respected executives within Time Warner," Bewkes said.
Meyer will continue on as chairman of the studio through 2013.
The appointment ends a three-way race to succeed Meyer, 69, who has been chairman and CEO of the studio since 1999.
After Alan Horn left as president of Warner Bros. in April 2011, an office of the president was shared between Tsujihara, Warner Bros. Pictures President Jeff Robinov, and Warner Bros. Television President Bruce Rosenblum. It was assumed one of the three would succeed Meyer.
Rosenblum said in a statement he was disappointed: "Who wouldn't be? Warner Bros. is a unique and special place and I know it will be in good hands with Kevin at the helm."
Robinov also offered his congratulations in a statement: "We are both good friends and colleagues and I think he's an excellent choice for the job."
Tsujihara is the first Japanese American head of the studio. He briefly addressed his ethnic background, saying "Obviously, I'm proud of my heritage. I don't think that that played a role."
He graduated from Stanford and founded the Web-based tax filing company QuickTax Inc. He joined Warner Bros. in 1994, at first to manage the company's interest in theme-park operator Six Flags. He later took executive roles overseeing its new media endeavors and corporate strategy.
Since divesting its AOL and cable TV operations, Time Warner has narrowed its focus on content in recent years, making the studio a more important factor in the company's finances.
In fiscal 2011, the studio accounted for $12.6 billion in revenue, about 43 percent of the entire company's revenue, and $1.3 billion in operating profit, about 22 percent of the total.
Time Warner shares fell 31 cents to close at $50.09 on Monday in a mixed overall market. Time Warner shares have traded in a 52-week range of $33.62 to $51.29.