Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Meanwhile ... At Warner Bros.

In the nineties, Warner bros. had a tough time making a go of long-form theatrical animation, even as its television product, particularly the cartoons produced in conjunction with Steven Spielberg, did exceedingly well.

In the oughts, its TV output became choppy, and Warner Bros. Animation cycled through a number of top-kicks. Today, Warners is aggressively expanding its animation footprint, with animation facilities in several parts of Burbank and Hollywood.

In addition to Warner Bros. Animation, the conglomerate has launched the Warner Animation Group (WAG) to develop a new generation of theatrical cartoons. (The company had two in the mid-nineties: Warner Bros. Feature Animation and Turner Feature Animation, both in Glendale and both long-since shuttered).

A couple of days ago, Warner Bros. head honcho laid out what the company planned to do going forward: ...

Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara said the studio is doubling down on its major franchises in a Tuesday Q&A session at an investor conference, undoubtedly good news for fans of DC Comics, Harry Potter and the Lego movies. And some of that content may be delivered direct to consumer. ...

“What is becoming more and more important is really these big franchises,” Tsujihara said.

The studio chief pointed out that three years ago, the top 10 films made up about 25 percent of the box office. This year, the top 10 will comprise about 30 percent, which makes nailing tentpoles that much more important. Tsujihara also said that the proliferation of prestige TV has favored big spectacle movies.

“If you look at what’s happening with the quality of the television product, the movies that are breaking through are the big franchises,” he said, adding that only Disney has a comparable selection of big franchises as Warner Bros. ...

Warner Bros. plans to produce plenty of new content from familiar — and reliable — intellectual property.

“Do we have an opportunity to rejuvenate ‘Looney Tunes?'” he asked.

Warners has yet to create blockbuster animated franchises, though the first Lego movie was perhaps a start. The company has long-since figured out how to do quality super hero cartoons for television. It's still striving the crack the animated feature market in the way that Disney/Pixar learned to do long ago.


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