Petaluma native Kevin Tsujihara has been named chief executive of the Warner Bros. studio, ending a fiercely fought battle for one of the most powerful jobs in Hollywood.
Tsujihara, 48, will become the first Asian American to run a major Hollywood studio.
When he becomes CEO on March 1, Tsujihara's priority will be determining how Hollywood's largest studio can continue to profit from feature films and TV shows as people increasingly watch their entertainment on tablets, game consoles and even smartphones.
He also must calm a company that has been roiled by a tumultuous two-year corporate runoff between Tsujihara and two rival executives who wanted the job.
“Change can be unnerving, change can be disconcerting,” Tsujihara said. “The utmost important thing is to safeguard what is most important and cherished here at Warner Bros.: our management team and our relationships with creative talent.”
He will become only the fifth leader in the 90-year history of Warner Bros., home of Bugs Bunny, Batman and “The Big Bang Theory.”
Warner Bros. is regularly No. 1 or No. 2 in the annual box-office ranking, has the top market share in home video and sells more TV shows to networks than any other studio. Revenue in 2011 climbed 9 percent to $12.6 billion.
Tsujihara grew up in Petaluma, where his parents, Shizuo and Mickey Tsujihara, and other family members owned Empire Egg Company, distributing eggs to markets and stores across the Bay Area.
After graduating from the University of Southern California and earning an MBA from Stanford University, Tsujihara launched QuickTax Inc., a tax preparation website. He joined Warner Bros. in 1994 to help manage the company's interest in Six Flags and worked his way up the ranks, focusing on business development and online content.
In 2005, he was named president of Warner Bros.' home entertainment unit, which is responsible for home video, online distribution and video games.