Warner Bros. Changed Game Plan For Growth (TWX)

In order to regain its footing in the movie industry, Warner Bros. is planning an ambitious expansion plan to increase its presence in the business. More movie offerings are expected from Warner’s expansive DC Comics library, as well as some melodramas and comedies that are currently in the works at the studio. The studio intends to focus on movies worth making, not just movies with characters with a wide potential audience. Warner Bros. is one of the biggest movie producers and distributors in the world and was number one at the domestic box office for five of the last ten years.

This summer was brutal for big blockbuster movies released in the United States. In 2011, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” earned $1.34 billion in global ticket sales by itself. Warner’s eight movies released during the 2014 summer season, including “Godzilla,” “Jersey Boys” and “Blended,” barely broke that amount all together. Movie ticket sales for the fall are anticipated to be just as dismal. The latest release from the company, “This Is Where I Leave You,” pulled in a paltry $11.9 million in ticket sales over the weekend.

Kevin Tsujihara became the chief executive at Warner Bros. nearly twenty months ago after a shakeup in the executive ranks of the company. In July, Warner Bros.’ parent, Time Warner, received a buyout bid from 21st Century Fox. The offer was ultimately rejected, but it put the executives in charge on notice that changes were needed if the company were to continue to grow. Some employees are dreading the company-wide layoffs that are scheduled to start in the coming weeks. However, the film and TV production units are expected to escape relatively unscathed when compared to the expectations for the rest of the company.

Greg Silverman, Warner’s production president, Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing and international distribution, and Toby Emmerich, president of Warner’s New Line Cinema unit, spoke in a joint interview about the new direction the company would be taking. This plan is the opposite of the tactics taken by other large movie studios in the United States. Paramount, Universal, and Disney are trimming back their release schedules and focusing on a few main brands that have the best chance of bringing in big audiences.

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