Scorsese, Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson latest to be unhappy with Warner Bros CEO

Warner Bros Discovery
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Three of Hollywood’s most iconic working directors have assembled to meet Warner Bros boss David Zaslav over the treatment of Turner Classic Movies.

Just last week, stories were circulating that Warner Bros Discovery was making overtures to key filmmakers in an attempt to repair the damage suffered to its reputation over the last few years. Once known as the ‘home’ for filmmakers, the decision to release its 2021 slate of films on Max (formerly HBO Max) at the same time as cinemas infuriated some of the studio’s biggest collaborators. Then there was the Batgirl incident which we’ve covered in detail before on this site.

It’s been a rocky few years for the studio’s reputation, with CEO David Zaslav’s personal image not exactly being burnished by reports of him throwing lavish parties at Cannes whilst the studio continues to refuse to negotiate with the striking writers who create the stories that the studio’s profits are built on. None of this has yet seemed to unnerve Zaslav, not even when he was roundly booed throughout a commencement speech for graduates that he gave a few weeks ago, after the writers’ strike began.

Now though, Zaslav may have awoken the ire of a force that even he may quake at. The CEO’s decision to gut the internal management structure at Turner Classic Movies has sparked three of America’s greatest living directors to come together and rebuke him. Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson reportedly demanded a meeting with Zaslav in which they sought reassurances for the future of the channel.

In a joint statement, the trio said: “Turner Classic Movies has always been more than just a channel. It is truly a precious resource of cinema, open 24 hours a day seven days a week. And while it has never been a financial juggernaut, it has always been a profitable endeavour since its inception. Earlier this week, David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, got in touch to talk about the restructuring of TCM. We understand the pressures and realities of a corporation as large as WBD, of which TCM is one moving part.

We have each spent time talking to David, separately and together, and it’s clear that TCM and classic cinema are very important to him.  Our primary aim is to ensure that TCM’s programming is untouched and protected. We are heartened and encouraged by the conversations we’ve had thus far, and we are committed to working together to ensure the continuation of this cultural touchstone that we all treasure.”

Whilst Zaslav’s conversation with the three seem to have appeased them for now, it’s his actions going forward that will determine how the filmmakers respond. Given that Zaslav has laid waste to the channel’s infrastructure, we’re wondering just how he reassured the filmmakers of his good intentions for TCM, especially given that the future of cable channels like TCM are in increasingly perilous states because of continued ‘cord-cutting’.

Just a week ago, it was reported that Warner Bros was attempting to court Peter Jackson and Christopher Nolan in a bid to restore its burnished reputation. Given the high profiles of the names expressing their dismay here, this looks like a case of ‘one step forward, two steps back’ for Warner Bros Discovery.


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