Merger between Warner Bros and Paramount being explored

Paramount Pictures
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The CEOs of Paramount and Warner Bros have met up, with the potential for a fresh Hollywood mega-merger on the table. More here:

It’s common knowledge that Paramount Global is in the shop window, with interested suitors being invited to make preliminary offers for the company which includes the 111-year old film studio, Paramount Pictures.

Last week, we covered the report that David Ellison’s Skydance Media was interested in acquiring the company, but probably less interested in keeping it whole as there are parts of Paramount Global (such as its cable TV channels like Comedy Central and MTV) that are considered to be ‘declining assets’.

Redbird Capital is said to be another interested party, but a report has emerged that Warner Bros Discovery is also in the mix.

Multiple sources (including Deadline) are reporting that Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish and Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav met for an hour in New York City this week to explore the possibilities of a merger between the two companies.

Topics that are said to have been discussed include a merging of both companies’ streaming platforms to form a service that would have the scale to take on services such as Netflix and Disney+. There’s also the feeling that such a deal would get regulatory approval given that only one of the companies owns a broadcast network, which otherwise might have proved to be a significant stumbling block.

Mind you, given how the Federal Trade Commission failed to stop the Microsoft/Activision deal from happening, there’s a feeling in some quarters that the US regulatory commission’s powers might be significantly compromised anyway when it comes to stopping future deals.

Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav told investors last month that his company is now in position “to allocate more capital toward growth opportunities” following a spending purge which has seen it remove films and TV programming from its service, delete completed films for tax write-offs and double down on franchise filmmaking rather than focus on original and innovative projects.

It’s early days yet, but could this be the worst of all possible outcomes for Paramount?

More than any CEO in Hollywood (or Silicon Valley for that matter), Zaslav continues to exhibit an alarming lack of care for the artistry and the artists that are the lifeblood of his company. If it isn’t his film division eschewing original film projects in favour of tired franchises, it’s his videogames division rejecting interesting projects in favour of soul-crushing live service titles.

And this continues apace, despite growing evidence that audiences are growing increasingly tired of such creatively bankrupt endeavours.

Of course, that’s without us even needing to mention that it was under Zaslav’s stewardship of the company that the deletion of films and purging of titles from streaming services to save license fees were popularised, with the latter practice having since been adopted by other companies.

We’ll let you know more on this one as we hear it but hopefully, a better fate awaits a movie studio which has existed in Hollywood since all the way back in 1912.

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