Franchises have been the name of the game in Hollywood for years, and Warner Bros. has been franchise-heavy more than most. Between various DC movies, the different Conjuring films, and whatever else, the studio has had a big franchise push over the last decade. But for current CEO David Zaslav, the company hasn’t been utilizing them enough to his liking.
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During a recent Goldman Sachs conference, Zaslav expressed a desire to expand upon WB’s biggest franchises. Specifically, he thinks “content” such as DC, along with the likes of Lord of the Rings, have been “underused.” To him, what makes Warner Bros. stand out from other studios is “the great IP that [it] owns,” he said. “But for us, the challenge is…we haven’t done anything with Harry Potter for more than a decade. We haven’t done anything with Lord of the Rings.”
DC is in the midst of starting up its 10-year-plan from James Gunn and Peter Safran, with the first official project being Gunn’s Superman Legacy in 2025. As for Lord of the Rings, it’s known that WB is working on more movies, such as the 2024 anime prequel War of the Rohirrim. In the case of Harry Potter, that’s more of a technicality than anything else: Zaslav is specifically referring to films set around or after the timeline of the original movies, which conveniently distances the three Fantastic Beasts movies (the last of which, Secrets of Dumbledore, came out back in 2022). That niche is expected to be filled by a TV adaptation of the original books, which he said will run for “10 consecutive years.”
Zaslav talked about the company needing to ensure it doesn’t “overuse the content” and risk franchise fatigue. While it’s not a wrong thought to have, the bigger issue may be that some of these franchises have lost their staying power in recent years. DC can try to get its act together only so many times before audiences become more selective about what they see, and the Potter brand gradually burned out its goodwill for a variety of reasons, most of them owing to author JK Rowling’s transphobic beliefs. (And this is to say nothing of WB’s attempted downplaying of those comments when asked.) Not every brand is built for continued, long-term success, especially when it’s looked at through a financial lens rather than a creative one.
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