Aiming for a new philosophy at Warner Independent Pictures, studio production president Jeff Robinov officially announced Monday that Polly Cohen, one of his key production executives at the studio, will head Warner Bros. Pictures three-year-old Indiewood label. The move comes just a few days after the news that WIP’s founding president Mark Gill announced his immediate departure. In a conversation with indieWIRE Monday, Robinov indicated that Warner Independent will be more closely integrated into the studio under leadership that will be more of a group effort.
“What you will see is something that resembles more of a team,” Robinov told indieWIRE, “Less of a one man show.” Continuing he said, “There is nothing wrong with that, nothing negative.” He added that Steve Friedlander and Laura Kim, who headed areas of WIP under Gill, will remain part of that team.
In a conversation with indieWIRE Monday, Robinov, new WIP president Cohen, WIP EVP of domestic distribution Friendlander, and WIP’s EVP of marketing and publicity Kim talked a bit about the new Warner Independent Pictures and Cohen’s appointment.
“Different personalities set a different tone and philosophy,” Robinov told indieWIRE, “It should come as no surprise that Polly’s is in line with mine.” He emphasized a team environment and collaborative spirit at a company, “that reflects a group vision.”
“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to lead a company such as Warner Independent and am very fortunate to continue working with such great people as Laura Kim and Steven Friedlander as well as the enormously talented writers and directors whose films – both big and small — have found homes at Warner Independent and Warner Bros. Pictures,” said Cohen in a statement Monday. “I am very much looking forward to this new chapter.”
Robinov explained that he doesn’t see the company’s focus changing considerably, saying that Warner Independent is “a directors company” aimed at bringing “new filmmakers into the Warner family” and is also a place where some of the directors that they already work at the studio with can make smaller movies. He also added that the unit will pursue genre films, which it hasn’t released in the past.
The company is expected to maintain a slate of about 5 – 8 films per year, including a mix of original productions and movies acquired at film festivals.
During the chat with indieWIRE, Polly Cohen highlighted a new discretionary fund for acquiring material and emphasized her hope for repeat business with filmmakers on subsequent projects, an important philosophy at the studio.
Cohen, a graduate of USC’s Peter Stark Producing Program, received an undergraduate degree in Chinese Studies from UCSB. She began her career at Jersey Films, and joined Warner Bros. Pictures as a creative executive in 1997 and was promoted to production executive in 1998. In 1999 she became vice president, production and in 2003 she was named senior vice president. She was appointed EVP of production back in February.
During her tenure at Warner Bros, Polly Cohen has worked on the upcoming Warner Independent film “Mama’s Boy,” as well as several others, in development, according to the company. She also led the production teams for such upcoming Warner Bros. Pictures studio releases as “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Superman Returns,” “License to Wed,” “I Am Legend,” and “Blood Diamond.”
[indieWIRE Associate Editor Brian Brooks contributed to this article.]