I Guess Three Billion Isn’t What it Used to Be


So I put up a graphic in my last piece about the profits from The Hobbit franchise, and my friends, those figures were conservative. On second thought, I should have called this piece Seven Billion Isn’t What It Used to Be.

Pardon me if I’m not sympathetic about Warner Brothers having financial difficulties. Oh, I’m sympathetic toward those who lost their jobs but not toward upper management.

LOS ANGELES — Warner Bros. on Tuesday began layoffs that will ultimately eliminate about 1,000 jobs, or 12.5 percent of the studio’s total staff, as it tries to increase profitability in the face of weak domestic box-office sales and a challenged television business.

Kevin Tsujihara, Warner’s chief executive, speaking at a recent investor conference, said the studio was seeking to cut annual overhead costs by $200 million. Mr. Tsujihara announced the layoffs in a memo to employees on Tuesday.

“We examined every aspect of our businesses to ensure that we are restructuring in a way that would allow us to minimize the impact,” he wrote.

Layoffs at Warner, Hollywood’s largest movie and television studio, come as part of a broader effort to trim costs by its corporate parent, Time Warner, after an unsuccessful takeover attempt last summer by 21st Century Fox. Time Warner’s struggling cable network division, Turner Broadcasting, last month eliminated 1,475 jobs, and HBO recently trimmed about 150.

Cost-cutting at Warner has rattled the entertainment industry. Warner — home to Batman, Harry Potter, “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” — has long been Hollywood’s most stable studio. Warner has ranked No. 1 at the domestic box office in five of the last 10 years. It was second in all but one of the other five years.

the rest here


I didn’t want to get into this, but I will (at least a bit). Time Warner, the parent company of Warner Brothers Entertainment, is streamlining in order to make their stock improve and in turn remain independent.

Bewkes, [CEO of Time Warner] meanwhile, told attendees that Time Warner “will more than double our earnings over the next several years.” The company earned $3.51 per share last year, and Bewkes predicted $8 per share by 2018.

Much of that will come courtesy of HBO, whose CEO, Richard Plepler, was at the investor day to tout the premium cable channel, which he said boasts 136 million global subscribers. Plepler said HBO will launch an online service in the U.S. similar in some ways to Netflix.

“In 2015, we will go beyond the wall and launch a stand-alone over-the-top service with the potential to produce hundreds of millions of dollars of additional revenue,” Plepler said. “And the international possibilities could be just as large, if not larger.”

He also said that while original programming might get the most attention at HBO, 40 percent of its subscribers only watch the theatrical movies on the channel. We’re the Millers attracted 26 million viewers, more than Games of Thrones, which is the most popular original HBO show in history. For these reasons, Plepler said HBO has struck long-term deals with outside film studios, such as Universal and 20th Century Fox, until the next decade and Summit Entertainment until 2017, for example.


And Time Warner needs to be independent long enough to get approval for a merger with Comcast which would create a helluva media empire. Think of the marriage of that infrastructure and content creator. It could be something like being one of the Big Three and more. You think seven kiwi actors and some ringers matter to the powers that be in the face of that?

To be clear, I’m not a friend of Comcast and tend to think this merger would not be a good thing for consumers with regard to cost. Other than that, it’s scary how quickly things have gone since I wrote this. We’re fast approaching the point of first run movies being mostly streamed to the home. I don’t think movie theaters will ever go away entirely, but I do think there will be very few in the future.

Tangent — What Color is the Sky?

So Rupert Murdoch finally has the paywalls up completely on the Times. I’ve been reading about this coming event for quite a while now. It’s my understanding that Murdoch based part of his decision on another paper he owns that requires paid subscriptions for online reading — The Wall Street Journal. The only problem with his thinking is that the Wall Street Journal targets a much smaller audience, provides information more difficult to obtain and the readers have more means to pay. It can’t be said enough that the Times stuff is easily available elsewhere unless the Times has one helluva editorial team, which is doubtful. So I’m not sure what Murdoch is thinking to compare the two papers.

Perhaps he’s not thinking, since it’s also my understanding that he personally does not use the internet. ROFLOL!!! Wait. I think he’s almost 80. Okay, that explains it. Wait, my 70 something year old mother has an iPhone and accesses the internet with it, and yes, to get her news. As if that’s not enough, so do my almost 80 year old mother-in-law and father-in-law, so no, age doesn’t explain it. He must be on another planet ’cause the color of the sky in his world is not the same as the rest of us, and apparently he’s as unrealistic as Prince, who I already thought was crazy. Oh wait, I meant the artist formerly known as Prince. No, I’m wrong, he’s back to Prince. Whatever, I’m not talking about the royals:

…”The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.

“The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good.

“They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”

The rest of the interview.

Alrighty then. Those devices in our hands are really just a figment of our imaginations and will soon disappear. I don’t think ol’ Rupe thinks those devices are going away, but just like Prince, he thinks he can create a scarcity where none exists. But of course the devil’s advocate rears his head and has me remembering that Rupert and Prince are friggin’ geniuses, and sometimes we think geniuses are crazy — especially when they see something the rest of us can’t. This is going to drive me crazy until I know these paywalls fail. Then again, I understand they might be necessary. If so, it’s going to be sad to see the golden era of information coming to an end.

In the meantime, I love how one of the frequent commenters at Tech Dirt put it:

Hephaestus said:

He will fail. Will it get me laid? will it make me money? is it required for work? his paper doesnt match any of those so its a fail, and few if any will pay for it.

I hope you’re right, Heph.