David Zaslav | Film-deleting Warner Bros boss gets 26% pay rise, “exceptional leadership” praised

Warner Bros Discovery
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David Zaslav, the boss of Warner Bros Discovery, has been praised for his “exceptional leadership” and given nearly $50m in 2023.

If you’re willing to be the kind of media boss willing to delete completed films as a tax write-off rather than release them? Well, it sure does pay the bills.

Just before the weekend, we learned that Warner Bros Discovery boss David Zaslav received $49.7m in remuneration in the year ending 2023. That’s an increase of 26.5 percent on the year before, and since he’s been in post in his job, he’s also benefitted from around $200m in stock option grants as well.

It’s an incredible reward for a CEO who’s overseen cost cutting throughout Warner Bros Discovery, apart from when it comes to his own salary. It’s under David Zaslav’s tenure that Warner Bros has earned a fresh and unwanted reputation for junking completed films, and taking a short-term tax write-off rather than releasing them. Filmmakers and long-term value of motion pictures be damned, it’s all about quarterly reports, and getting things looking right for accountants in the short term.

Read more: Coyote Vs Acme | Behind the latest Warner Bros film we’ll never see

Three films so far have got the Zaslav treatment: Batgirl, Scoob: Holiday Haunt and Coyote Vs Acme, although there’s still a microcosm of hope for the latter that it may survive and find a new home.

In its proxy statement announcing the compensation packages for its senior team, Warner Bros Discovery noted the challenging year that the company had been through. Still, “despite these challenges”, it noted, the compensation committee at the company “believes our CEO and other [executive officers] provided exceptional leadership and delivered on several financial, operational and strategic priorities”.

There you have it, everyone who’s been laid off by Warner Bros Discovery: the team were providing “exceptional leadership” after all. Phew!

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