Jason Killar, head of WarnerMedia, left before the Discovery merger

Jason Killar, head of WarnerMedia, who joined the board with ambitious plans for the company’s stand-alone streaming service and spent half of his term effectively as a lame duck, announced on Tuesday that he was leaving the company.

The much-anticipated departure comes days before WarnerMedia completes its merger with Discovery and a new team takes over.

“Leading this team was an honor in my life,” Mr Killar wrote in a note to staff. “My heart is so full and I am very grateful to each of you. There is no better team on the planet and I will enjoy every last step as I wander a few more times this week at Burbank, with this team always in my mind. ”

Mr. Killar was hired by John Stankey, CEO of AT&T, the parent company of WarnerMedia, in April 2020, just weeks after the pandemic and a month before HBO Max, the company’s streaming service, debuted.

Mr. Killar, founder of Hulu and a veteran of Amazon, was focused on bringing the company’s streaming service to a solid footing. Months after his term, he set about implementing a plan called Project Popcorn, his most controversial decision. With the raging pandemic, Mr. Killar announced in a December 2020 publication on Medium that the Warner Bros. film. 2021 will be released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, a decision that has blinded most directors and their representatives.

Streaming analysts applauded the decision, and HBO Max had a strong year. HBO and HBO Max ended 2021 with more than 70 million global subscribers, exceeding domestic expectations, according to AT&T.

But the decision came as a blow to creative circles in Hollywood. Richard Lovett, co-chair of the Creative Artists Agency, called it “the embodiment of a corporate maneuver of self-interest designed to benefit your company while wreaking havoc on the industry.” Directors such as Denny Villeneuve, Christopher Nolan and David Chase have criticized him.

Just as Mr. Killar was fulfilling his vision, his AT&T bosses were secretly planning to leave the entertainment business. In February 2021, one month after the launch of Project Popcorn, Mr. Stankey began discussions with David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery, on the merger, a conversation that continued in March and April.

Mr Stankey kept Mr Killar unaware of the deal until days before it was announced in May. Mr. Zaslav will take over the merged company Warner Bros. Discovery after the merger is final.

Mr Killar also oversaw the February departure of Jeff Zucker, CNN’s boss, which has been heading for weeks. Mr Zucker said he was leaving because he had a romantic relationship with a subordinate, Alison Golust, and was unable to reveal this to the company. Mr Killar offered few details and no alternative explanation, which left many CNN employees angry.

Two weeks later, Mr. Killar told officials that Mr. Zucker and Ms. Golust had committed “violations of company policies,” including CNN news standards and practices, an accusation they both denied.

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