UPDATED: 9:30 p.m. (ET)
In a Monday morning surprise, Kevin Tsujihara was named CEO of Warner Bros, beginning in March.
Tsujihara, who had been president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, will succeed Barry Meyer, who will remain chairman through the end of the year. The role of new CEO had essentially been a three-way competition with Warner Bros. Television Group president Bruce Rosenblum and Warner Bros. Pictures president Jeff Robinov over the past two years. After Alan Horn departed in 2011 (later to surface at Disney), Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes created an "Office of the President" shared by the three executives as Meyer moved toward retirement.
Warner Bros. said Meyer and Tsujihara will work together to ensure an orderly transition.
"Kevin is one of the most effective and respected executives within Time Warner, and the right leader to ensure Warner Bros.' preeminence into the future," Bewkes said in a statement. "He brings the perfect combination of strategic thinking, financial discipline, digital vision, and management style to build on Warner Bros.' track record of success under Barry Meyer."
Given the growth of Warners' television assets in recent years, Rosenblum was thought to have a solid chance at the top job. Tsujihara, a respected and poised steward of the company's digital, home entertainment and gaming operations, has the lowest profile of the three in traditional film and TV production/distribution circles.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed; who wouldn't be?" Rosenblum said in a statement. "Warner Bros. is a unique and special place and I know it will be in good hands with Kevin at the helm. I continue to be proud of our accomplishments and I have the most respect and admiration for our amazing team at the studio -- a team that is thriving in an ever-transforming business."
Through a spokesman, Rosenblum said it is "too soon to say" whether he will extend his 24-year tenure at the studio. He has headed the TV Group since 2005, Warner's most profitable division.