She left Washington in 1991 and moved back to New York and worked in operations and engineering for CBS Sports, covering three Olympics, including the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. That same year Cookson recruited her to Warner to help with the studio's transition to a digital world.
"We share here a belief and understanding in new technology and that consumers want to experience our movies and television shows differently," Cookson said. "Darcy really understands the whole equation."
Antonellis said she believes that the next three months will be most critical for Hollywood as the need to offer legal movies and television shows to consumers intensifies. When asked about criticism that studios aren't moving quickly to offer content online, she pointed to a deal Warner made last year with BitTorrent, a movie-swapping site that approached the Motion Picture Association of America about selling movies legally.
"We were criticized for not being aggressive enough," she said. "At the same time, we can't be faulted for being radical in our approach."
Indeed, Warner spends millions of dollars in research to understand what consumers want. And the results can be surprising. In Britain, Warner recently found that consumers there were more interested in watching feature films, as opposed to television programs, on portable devices because their commutes were twice as long.
"If we don't encompass the last piece in our thinking -- how consumers want to use content -- then we are going to miss it," Antonellis said. "Just think how consumer behavior has evolved in the last two years."
Last year Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple and a director of the Walt Disney Co, announced a deal with Disney to offer movies on Apple's video iPod. Despite that, many of Disney's competitors remained holdouts. At the heart of the debate are the standards governing digital rights management, commonly called DRM. Studios want stricter rules on copying, while Jobs supports a more liberal approach, particularly with music.
"There may be opportunities down the road, but we have to come to some agreement about what the offerings will be," Antonellis said of Warner's and Apple's discussion. "The term DRM is steeped and mired in its legacy definition. Today, call it something else. I don't care what you call it. Get rid of it. But we need to make this work so we can get a deal."
Antonellis may have to rely not only her technical expertise but the valuable communication skills she learned at CBS.
"Part of my responsibility is to take technology-based ideas and take it out of the techie space," she said. "If executives look at me like I have three heads, then I've failed as an executive."