In the near future, it’s pretty simple what the new Warner Bros Discovery will zero in on: “We’re going to have a real focus on franchises,” President and CEO David Zaslav said on this afternoon’s Q3 earnings call.
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“The DC movies and the Harry Potter movies provided a lot of profits to Warner Bros motion pictures over the last 25 years,” he continued. Recently, Henry Cavill announced that he was reprising his role as the Man of Steel after making a cameo in Black Adam. However, there are no details on a Superman sequel script or director.
“House of the Dragon is a big example of that; Game of Thrones, taking advantage of Sex and the City. Lord of the Rings — we still have the right to do Lord of the Rings movies,” Zaslav noted, but he did not call out New Line’s upcoming The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim, due out in April 12, 2024.
“You focus on the big movies, the tentpoles that people are going to leave home, leave early from dinner to see,” said Zaslav emphasizing how big pics make two or three times more in the U.S.
Then slamming direct-to-streaming movies, a plan executed under the former WarnerMedia regime, Zaslav said: “We learned what doesn’t work. And this is what doesn’t work for us based on everything that we’ve seen: direct-to-streaming movies. So spending a billion dollars or collapsing a motion picture window into a streaming service. The movies that we launch in theater do significantly better, and launching a 2-hour, 40-minute movie direct to streaming has done nothing for HBO Max in terms of viewership, retention or love of the service.”
Zaslav also said: “The entire library shouldn’t be on HBO Max and paid for by HBO Max. We have an extraordinary library: Friends, Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men — there’s 15 or 20 series that are loved and nourishing the audience on a regular basis. But then there’s a huge number of series and movies that aren’t being used at all.
“If none of it’s being used, why aren’t we putting it on an AVOD where it will be used? We looked at what people are watching on Pluto and Tubi: They’re loving Rawhide and Bonanza. They’re not watching old series like Dynasty on Max. There is a platform where people have an expectation and what they want to watch, and we’ve been able to get a real vision into what people are consuming and ultimately that gives us a roadmap.”
Essentially the rule of thumb for Warner Bros Discovery is seeing what has and hasn’t worked on the OTT service and “determining how to operate going forward.”
“The audience will tell you what they love,” said Zaslav. “We can see it on Max and what people spend time with.”
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