Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes: ‘Wonder Woman’ Will Bring Females to Comic Book Movies

Jeff Bewkes On Demand TV the
Mathis Wienand/Getty Images

Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes says that Warner Bros. is poised to bounce back after a disappointing 2015.

The media mogul predicted that the studio would turn the corner on a series of flops, such as “Jupiter Ascending” and “Pan,” by offering moviegoers a steady diet of comic book movies and sequels, calling out upcoming films like “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and the “Harry Potter” spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

“We’re really excited about the slate,” he said at Tuesday’s UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, adding, “Next year we’re going to be shifting more to the very numerous number of big franchise film releases.”

He was particularly bullish about “Wonder Woman,” a 2017 DC Comics adaptation that he argued will break new ground for a type of film that caters heavily to fanboys.

“We think this could bring an under-represented female audience to this genre that frankly has not been served well in the past and that could be exciting,” he said.

While Bewkes seemed eager to tout upcoming films about costumed heroes, he was more reticent on the topic of media deals. He declined to comment on reports that Hulu is in talks to sell a stake to Time Warner. He did, however, praise the streaming service, noting that many cable companies have issues with their user interfaces that hinders on-demand viewing. They are cumbersome to use and should be streamlined, he maintained.

“Hulu is a pretty good service,” said Bewkes. “It would be nice if they could help with this interface problem.”

Bewkes also cited Comcast as an example of a company that had created a more intuitive experience that should be a model for the industry. Because it can be hard for viewers to find programming, Bewkes said he agreed with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s recent comments that television was “broken.”

“Tim is right,” he said.

If Warner Bros., the once dominant movie studio that has slipped behind Universal and Disney in terms of market share, is a black mark on Time Warner’s year, Bewkes couldn’t heap enough praise on HBO. New programs, such as the rock drama “Vinyl” from producer Martin Scorsese and the Sarah Jessica Parker comedy “Divorce,” will augment the premium channel’s slate of shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “Veep,” he said.

The television business has become more crowded, Bewkes acknowledged. Companies like Netflix and Amazon have found success while fielding award-winning shows such as “Orange Is the New Black” and “Transparent.” While paying lip-service to the competitive pressures, Bewkes argued that HBO has a reputation for quality that serves it well with the creative community and a willingness to loosen the purse strings when warranted.

“We do not underestimate any one with a giant checkbook,” said Bewkes, adding, “HBO has a very adequate budget of a billion dollars a year for originals. We plan to have it grow.”

One bidding war that Bewkes hinted Time Warner won’t be all in on is the upcoming fight for the rights to broadcast Thursday Night Football. Time Warner’s Turner networks broadcast baseball and basketball, but the NFL games, and the high price tag they will invariably demand, might not make financial sense, Bewkes said.

“We’re interested in the NFL,” he said. “It’s terrific programming, but we don’t have to have it.”

The Time Warner chief admitted that the media landscape is changing. Viewers are migrating from traditional pay-TV services to digital offerings. But content will prevail he claimed.

He also offered one final piece of sage advice to the investor-heavy crowd: “Watch more TV.”

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  1. Martha says:

    Bring Females to Comic Book Movies?

    How an anorexic woman who barely speaks english will represent me?

  2. Can’t wait for Wonder Woman!

  3. Sarasvati S. says:

    I’m already interested with comics and also comic book movies, unfortunately a lot of friends still haven’t. I hope this will be a significant change. We need more women to be featured and not only as supporting characters.

  4. Heather says:

    This title is pure clickbait. What he actually said is that women are under served and under represented in comic books film adaptations and that’s completely true. How is that “bullish”? Also, barely a paragraph of the actual article touches on this so the title is about as sensationalistic, relevant and as and interchangeable as “Time Warner Hates Hulu” would be.

  5. Cap London says:

    Many women already go, including me.

  6. What makes him think we haven’t been going?

  7. therealeverton says:

    You mean MORE females. There’s plenty of females at these films now, but yes, there’s a chance Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel etc. will attract MORE of them, just as Jessica Jones appears to have attracted more women than Daredevil did.

  8. Women are already going to these films. And men will be interested in films with good story even when a woman is featured.

  9. Lisa says:

    What he’s basically saying is, ‘Okay girls, we’ll start making films for you….finally’. Thanks a bunch Jeff!

    • Better than Marvel’s lack of representation. Where’s that Black Widow movie at? Why is Captain Marvel pushed back?

      • Marvel=sexist says:

        LOL correct. Not too mention… Black Widow had a great scene in AoU, where she drops out of the plane on the motorcycle… well, for the toy version, she was replaced with captain america lmao!! How blatant can they be!? Meanwhile, WonderWoman gets figures from her BvS role, plus her own film, which will also have loads of merchandise. Stoked to get my (next) WW figure in a collection dominated by Supes, Bats and the Flash lol.

      • SAMURAI36 says:

        None of those characters you named, hardly account for true diversity. Most of them barely play supporting roles, & others of them are D-list characters. And JJ is hardly “the best female superhero TV show to date”. Perhaps on Netflix, but certainly nowhere else. Also, DC has been making movies far longer than 1989. Sounds like someone doesn’t know their history.

      • therealeverton says:

        ALL their “new” films got pushed back to fit in Ant-Man & The Wasp. Meantime there’s Jessica Jones, about the best Superhero offering made to date on Netflix. Making a Wonder Woman film in 2017 is hardly WB being “better than Marvel Studios” when WB has been making films based on their DC characters since Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989 and in that time have only given us Catwoman. Marvel Studios have only been making films since 2008; Yes it has taken far too long to headline a film with a non white male or a female lead, but they hardly have a lack of diversity with War Machine, Black Widow (Saved the world in The Avengers) Maria Hill,Agent Carter, Jessica Jones, Scarlett Witch, Falcon, Nick Fury, Sif Heimdal, The Wasp(s) with Captain Marvel and Black Panther finally on the way too.

      • And besides, WB and DCE are going to be promoting Wonder Woman A LOT as we get closer to BVS’ release. They already have a ton of merchandise ready from toys and dolls to shirts and the works.

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