×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Time Warner Chief Jeff Bewkes on DC Comics Movies: ‘There’s a Little Room for Improvement’

Time Warner chairman-CEO Jeff Bewkes told investors Wednesday that there is “a little room for improvement” in the creative execution of Warner Bros.’ DC Comics movie slate. But he stressed that the two titles released to date have been financially successful and have achieved the larger strategic goal of reinvigorating classic DC characters for a new generation of moviegoers.

Referencing the lukewarm critical response to this year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad,” Bewkes admitted during his Q&A at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia investor conference: “The DC Comics characters … have a little more lightness in them than maybe what you saw in those movies, so we’re thinking about that.”

Bewkes said the studio has enlisted DC Comics entertainment president Geoff Johns and production guru Jon Berg to take a firm hand in guiding the upcoming DC releases. But he sees no reversal in Warner Bros.’ ambitious plan for releasing a string of DC-branded tentpoles through 2020, with “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League” to come next year.

“The strategy worked,” Bewkes said. “The execution did deliver what we wanted to do. We can do a little better on the creative. … We’re right on course or better” with the plan, he said, citing “Suicide Squad’s” legs at the box office. To date the pic released in August has grabbed about $720 million at the worldwide box office.

“The main thing was to launch DC and reinvigorate it with the fan base,” he said. “The reboot of Batman with Ben Affleck (in the role) was a big success.” He also noted that the fan reaction to actress Gal Gadot’s debut as the Wonder Woman character in “Batman v Superman” has been positive.

Bewkes also addressed the transformations underway at TNT and TBS, which are looking to draw a younger audience with shows that have more traction in social media than the broadcast TV-like strategy pursued in the past. He cited TBS’ new entries “Wrecked” and “Detour” as cable TV’s highest rated comedies with solid critical buzz being “exactly what we were aiming for.”

TNT is on mission to add edge to its dramas, starting with the mob family drama “Animal Kingdom,” which bowed in June and has been renewed for a second season. “You’re going to see more shows like that on TNT over the next year or so,” he said.

HBO’s focus is on growing its broadband-only business and a series of MVPD carriage renegotiations on deck over the next 18 months. Bewkes said an update on subscriber figures for the stand-alone HBO Now service would come at the end of this year.

In general, Bewkes said he was upbeat about the prospects for Time Warner’s biggest channels to continue to grow as the distribution landscape evolves in the coming years. New digital entrants such as Dish Network’s Sling and Hulu’s upcoming channel package will only enhance the value of Time Warner’s biggest brands. Time Warner took a 10% stake Hulu earlier this year, for $583 million, in connection with its agreement to be part of Hulu’s channel offering.

Moreover, the digital services are focused on providing cutting-edge navigational systems and easy-to-use on-demand features. The influx of competition is forcing the traditional distributors to offer more varieties of packages, which will improve the experience and hopefully lead to higher retention rates.

“We have tried to be at the forefront of that — helping existing distributors enhance what they are doing and helping the new distributors, which we think are a great opportunity for everybody,” he said.

More Biz

  • Jordan Feldstein

    Roc Nation Seeks $11 Million From Insurer in Jordan Feldstein's Death

    Roc Nation filed a federal lawsuit Friday seeking $11 million from its insurance carrier following the death of Maroon 5 manager Jordan Feldstein. Roc Nation, a joint venture of Jay-Z and Live Nation Entertainment, partnered with Feldstein’s Career Artist Management in 2016. At the time, Roc Nation says it took out a “key man” life [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Dropped by Sony Music

    Sony Music has decided to dissolve its working relationship with R. Kelly, Variety has learned. No external announcement of the move is planned in the immediate future, says a source, who added that the company took its time to wade through the issues “responsibly” and avoid legal ramifications. R. Kelly was removed from the RCA [...]

  • CAA HQ LA

    Ex-Agent Stuart Manashil Ordered to Repay CAA in Fraud Case

    Former literary agent Stuart Manashil was ordered on Thursday to repay a $23,975 commission to CAA, which he admitted he had illegally diverted to a friend. Manashil, who now runs his own management company, pleaded guilty in March 2018 to a federal wire fraud charge. In a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, Manashil [...]

  • "The Continent," directed by Chinese racer

    Alibaba Pictures Buys Into Chinese Director Han Han's Film Studio

    Alibaba Pictures confirmed that it has invested an undisclosed amount in Chinese celebrity blogger-turned-film director Han Han’s Shanghai Tingdong Film. Han’s upcoming “Pegasus” is one of the most anticipated films of the year in China. Alibaba Pictures, part of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is now the second-largest stakeholder in Tingdong. It has a 13.1% stake, according to Chinese [...]

  • Phil McIntyre Steps Down as Roc

    Phil McIntyre Steps Down From Roc Nation Management, but Remains Affiliated With Company

    Phil McIntyre has stepped down as president of Roc Nation Management, but his PhilyMack management company remains affiliated with Roc, a source close to the situation tells Variety. PhilyMack, which McIntyre founded in 2006, partnered with Roc Nation in 2015. The source stressed that McIntyre’s role at Roc Nation Management  — whose clients include Rihanna, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content