Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav sees a major challenge in his media empire: the underutilization of “Harry Potter,” “Lord of the Rings” and DC.
“One of the other real strengths of Warner Bros. is we talk about the great IP that Warner Bros. owns,” Zaslav said at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia and Technology Conference. “But, for us, the challenge is that our content, our great IP — “Harry Potter,” DC, “Lord of the Rings” — that content has been underused.”
Zaslav went on to note that the company hasn’t done “long-form Superman” in over 10 years. Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” premiered back in 2013. And though WBD has a stake in The CW, the network behind the currently running “Superman and Lois,” it is not the majority shareholder of the network.
“We haven’t done anything with ‘Harry Potter’ for more than a decade. We haven’t done anything with ‘Lord of the Rings,'” Zaslav said.
It should be noted that though “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” premiered in 2022 and the video game “Hogwarts Legacy” debuted earlier this year and were set in the universe of Harry Potter, there have been no WBD series or movies explicitly set in the timeline of J.K. Rowling’s original novels. In April, the company announced a series adaptation of the books.
Though Zaslav mentioned that these big properties was “one of the big differentiators of this company,” he also noted “we’ve got to be careful not to overuse the content.”
“We think there’s a lot of shareholder value in attaching a 10-year DC — a real plan around DC, bringing ‘Harry Potter’ back to HBO for 10 consecutive years, doing multiple movies of ‘Lord of the Rings,'” Zaslav said. He also noted that when you look at the performance of Warner Bros. over the last 20 years without accounting for those properties, “it’s relatively flat.”
“When you put those franchises in, it’s the best performing studio in the world. We need to deploy our best capital, and we need to do it with the best creative people in the world,” Zaslav said.
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