Focusing on Warner Bros.’s Discovery streaming strategy. for 2nd quarter earnings

Leslie Grace attends the premiere of Warner Bros.’s “The Suicide Squad”. at The Landmark Westwood on August 2, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Axelle / bauer-griffin | Filmmagic | beautiful pictures

Investors are looking for Discovery of Warner Bros. for details on its streaming strategy as the newly consolidated company reports second-quarter earnings after the bell on Thursday.

They had a big hint earlier this week.

The company on Tuesday announced it would be postponing DC’s straight-to-air series “Batgirl,” surprising fans and offering a glimpse into a new era of nonsense under recently installed CEO David Zaslav. this.

Zaslav take the helm in April and has prioritized cost-cutting measures and sought to refocus the company’s content strategy. Unlike former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, Zaslav wants the company’s high-budget movies to debut in theaters, not on his streaming service.

The decision also raises questions about the future of HBO Max’s other TV and film projects, with many subscribers to the social network worried that their favorite shows could follow within the next few weeks. prohibit.

While “Batgirl” had a more modest budget than theatrical releases — about $90 million after Covid protocols raised costs — Warner Bros. Discovery, a newly forged merger between Warner Media and Discovery, has been equipping books with room to save money. Storing the movie “Batgirl” allows the company to write off taxes as part of a broader effort to reduce the company’s overall debt.

The film completed production in March and is in the early stages of editing by director duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (“Bad Boys for Life”, “Ms Marvel”), but it will not be released. online by the service company, in theaters, or sold to another studio if the company chooses to remove the tax.

Burying the film also saves on potential marketing costs for Warner Bros. Discovery and any subsequent payments in the original filmmaking contracts that may have occurred prior to the merger.

Big-name actors are often remunerated after the film’s release based on box office scores or viewership metrics. And “Batgirl” has been associated with some big names: Michael Keaton reprises the role of Batman, JK Simmons is cast as Commissioner Jim Gordon, and Brendan Fraser is cast as the villain Firefly.

“Despite the stated explanation for the removal of ‘Batgirl’ Robert Thompson, a professor at Syracuse University and an expert on popular culture, said that regarding the shifting strategies associated with feature films being released directly on streaming platforms, This still seems to be a remarkable decision. Burn your home down right before you pay off your mortgage. “

Thompson said that the decision also seems to pass “at least some judgment” on the quality of the film, as Warner Bros. Discovery doesn’t see a future for this film in terms of an online or theatrical release.

However, with “Batgirl” in such early post-production, further editing could resolve issues with the film in time for its expected late 2022 release.

While dropping the film can make some financial decisions, it comes with a social cost. Not only were fans of DC comics disappointed, but many questioned why the company had expelled the project directed by an Afro-Latinx star, Leslie Grace.

Discovery by Warner Bros. was burned because does not publicly address the ongoing allegations against “The Flash” star Ezra Miller.

While executives remain concerned about Miller, they are expected to address the controversial decision during the company’s earnings meeting on Thursday – along with broader questions around content and its streaming plan.

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