Topper preaches reach for pix
NEW YORK — Time Warner chairman-CEO Richard Parsons on Monday touted Warner Bros.’ tentpole-tossed movie strategy as befitting the worldwide reach of the giant media conglom.
“We greenlight films with global appeal,” which makes the studio less dependent on U.S. box office, he told investors at the UBS Media Week Conference in Gotham.
Overseas markets most recently rescued “Troy” after wooden B.O. domestically. Parsons noted that 70% of the pic’s $500 million in worldwide box office came from outside the U.S.
“Alexander” — a loser Stateside — may follow a similar trajectory.
Parsons said no other entertainment company reaches more people with more formats than Time Warner’s global distribution network, which operates in 175 territories. Long arms “lower investment risk,” he noted.
He said the studio will face tough comparisons as “The Lord of the Rings” bonanza winds down this year. Heavyweight arrivals include “Batman Begins,” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
On the broader conglom, Parsons said Time Warner will work hard to settle the SEC probe into AOL’s accounting — an ongoing investigation that’s shadowed the share price and muddled potential stock transactions. A settlement is seen as likely in the next months.
He predicted AOL’s advertising revenue will hit $1 billion this year.
Parsons sees telephony as the hot new cable offering and a potentially huge market. He said Time Warner’s eyeing Adelphia but would rather walk — as it did from MGM — than overpay.
The conglom is looking at ways to return some capital to shareholders, Parsons noted, but didn’t elaborate.
And he said the Toshiba high-definition DVD format — backed by Warner Bros., Universal and Paramount — will slow piracy since the discs take a day to download.