Warner Bros to focus on franchises in wake of Discovery merger

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DC, Harry Potter and Game Of Thrones are name-checked as future big-earners for the company, it has been announced. 

In news that will surprise absolutely nobody, Warner Bros Discovery has announced that it will be increasing its focus on tentpole franchise films in the days and months to come. It’s a line that we’ve heard several studios parrot for a while now as they eagerly eye the kinds of billion dollar returns that successful franchise films can pull in. Where this leaves lower budget original fare from Warner Bros such as Don’t Worry Darling, currently playing in cinemas, remains to be seen. Studios continue to emulate the Disney model of making fewer movies, but making them both franchise-led and more expensive. The aim of course is to make the same huge profits that the Mouse House has amassed in the last few years and it continues to reshape Hollywood’s major players.

Warner Bros Discovery International’s chief Gerhard Zeiler has suggested that DC, Harry Potter and Game Of Thrones will be the main franchises that the company looks to tap, although it will surely have its work cut out there. The current slate of DC films has more than its fair share of well-publicised problems and the ongoing search for a creative ‘godfather’ to lead the movies into a new era has thus far yielded little fruit. Likewise, the Harry Potter franchise is facing fading interest with the Fantastic Beasts series facing the very real prospect of not completing its planned five film arc.

Although this news might not bode well for fans of Warner Bros’ more traditional filmmaker-friendly output, Zeiler did at least confirm the studio’s commitment to the theatrical experience, saying “everyone who believed cinema is dead has been proven wrong and will be proved wrong in the future. The theatrical business is here to stay, although of course, the pandemic changed things.”

It will be interesting to see how Warners’ plans unfold over the next couple of years, but given the way it has been cancelling interesting projects from its HBO Max platform, not to mention dropping existing programming as well, it’s hard to shake the feeling that a cold, hard profit formula is having an increasingly influential say on the way the company does business.


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