Less than two months after a deal was signed, Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav has admitted the WGA were correct in almost all their demands – but thinks they’re now overpaid.
David Zaslav, the embattled CEO of Warner Bros Discovery, doesn’t seem to be making many friends in Hollywood at the moment. Just a few months after studio heads signed a deal with the Writers Guild of America which granted writers the vast majority of their strike demands, Zaslav has admitted he agreed with them all along, according to a wide-ranging article in the New York Times.
Reflecting on the deal the AMPTP reached with the WGA on 24th September, Zaslav said of the writers:
“They are right about almost everything. So what if we overpay? I’ve never regretted overpaying for great talent or a great asset.”
This rather lax attitude towards the industry’s financial situation isn’t par for the course with the former Discovery CEO. Since taking over one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious movie studios back in April 2022, Zaslav has overseen significant cuts at the company to help reduce its $56b debt pile. So far, Zaslav has made more than $3b in savings across the company.
Though shareholders remain confident in his leadership, Warner Bros. Discovery stocks nonetheless dropped 18 per cent following the company’s last earnings call earlier this month, which revealed the studio had lost $400m over the last quarter. Still, Zaslav’s reputation as the hard-nosed businessman taking the company back to the ruthless old studio days remains intact. A now-deleted GQ article from earlier this year described him as “perhaps the most hated man in Hollywood”.
Over the weekend, the company as a whole got into more hot water when it cancelled, then quickly uncancelled, the completed live-action/animation hybrid Coyote Vs Acme to claw back another $30m in tax savings.