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Warner Bros. names first China chief

Warner Bros. Entertainment has named veteran Chinese technology and entertainment industry executive Gillian Zhao as its first Chinese boss.

Gillian ZhaoZhao, who was most recently atop film company Wanda Pictures and senior assistant to the president of the Wanda Culture Group, has become Warner’s executive VP and managing director of China.

This puts her in charge of Warner’s TV and theatrical distribution businesses, plus the home entertainment, consumer products, games and emerging technology assets in the territory.

China has become a major market for US movie producers, and is an increasingly important territory for the international television industry. Zhao has a keen handle on its sensibilities, having worked in the local content and technology spaces for nearly three decades.

Besides working at privately-owned Chinese film giant Wanda, she was MD of Apple China and deputy general manager of Microsoft China, and has worked for Bona Film Group, Celestial Entertainment China and broadcaster Star TV in the entertainment sector.

“Gillian is a multi-faceted executive with a great background across the entertainment and tech sectors in China,” said Warner Bros. CEO and chairman Kevin Tsujihara. “As we look to expand all of our businesses in China, Gillian’s know-how, experience and contacts will give us a competitive advantage.

“We’re pleased to welcome her to the Warner Bros. family and look forward to her leading our efforts in this market full of incredible opportunities and to continue to grow with the Chinese entertainment industry.”

Zhao will work with and report to Warner Bros. executive VP, international Richard Fox, who said her appointment would bring “a more market-oriented and localised approach”.

“The Warner Bros. name is synonymous with first-class entertainment, in China and around the world,” said Zhao. “I’m excited and honored to be named to this post and look forward to taking the company’s in-country operations to the next level.

“Warner Bros. has the brands, characters and films that resonate with and are so loved by Chinese audiences, so we have unlimited potential and opportunity in this high-growth market.”