Longtime studio dealmaker Steve Spira is finalizing his return to Warner Bros., taking on the mantle he held once before: president of business affairs.
Spira parted ways with Warners in November 2020. He first joined the studio in 1985 and quickly rose up the ranks. In his 35 years there, he oversaw massive talent deals and managed key relationships with filmmakers, Clint Eastwood and Christopher Nolan among them.
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Courtney D. Armstrong took over the post when Spira left, but Armstrong decamped to Paramount, also as head of business affairs, in October 2021. The position has remained unfilled since then.
Spira’s return comes as Warner Bros. and Discovery merge and new CEO David Zaslav reshapes the movie division even as he brings together streaming platforms HBO Max and Discovery+, as well as popular cable channels such as the Food Network, TNT and CNN, under one roof. Zaslav has pledged not to overspend on content as he tries to position the merged company as a leader in the streaming space. So Spira may have his work cut out for him in this age of streaming wars and the shifting lines of theatrical and streaming releases.
Spira not only brings institutional knowledge to a morphing studio — he was such a fixture that he also refereed studio basketball games — he is also being seen as bringing in a steady hand in the high-stakes and sometimes contentious world of dealmaking.
His return also has a lining of “everything old is new again” as he could end up working with Alan Horn, the studio head who spent over 12 years as president of Warners before going to Disney and who is in discussions to act as a consultant to Zaslav (no commitments have been made on the latter front).
Spira will report to both Zaslav and incoming film chiefs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy.