David Zaslav has been making big moves since becoming the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery. He’s canceled anticipated movies and TV shows and most recently, has been implementing new strategies to revive some of the studio’s most popular franchises.
These franchises include the likes of DC, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
During a presentation at Goldman Sachs Communacopia and Technology Conference (via The Wrap), Zaslav claims that these franchises have been “underused”.
“One of the other real strengths of Warner Bros. is we talk about the great IP that Warner Bros. owns. But, for us, the challenge is that our content, our great IP — Harry Potter, DC, Lord of the Rings — that content has been underused. We think there’s a lot of shareholder value in attaching a 10-year DC — a real plan around DC, bringing Harry Potter back to HBO for 10 consecutive years, doing multiple movies of Lord of the Rings,” said Zaslav.
Where studios like Marvel have had their reigning era in the superhero genre, Warner has struggled to elevate their DC brand. The lack of success was more apparent after the departure of director Zack Snyder and a string of mid-performing movies. 2022’s Black Adam was the final nail in the coffin before Zaslav entrusted the DC brand to new co-CEOs Peter Safran and James Gunn.
Harry Potter, on the other hand, was the golden child, or rather the golden snitch. The adaptation of J.K Rowling’s books led to eight incredibly successful films. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was even Warner Bros’ highest-grossing movie of all time at the worldwide box office for 12 years before it was dethroned by 2023’s Barbie.
The Harry Potter universe was later expanded with Fantastic Beasts. While the first movie was well-received, the sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald generated mixed reviews. But mixed reviews were the least of the studio’s concerns. Johnny Depp, who played the main antagonist Grindelwald, was embroiled in a public divorce from actress Amber Heard involving multiple defamation trials. Depp was later replaced by Mads Mikkelsen in The Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.
As of now, Zaslav has a Harry Potter Max TV series reboot planned for the Wizarding World.
Lastly, The Lord of the Rings trilogy movies remain one of the most impressive series of movies to this day. Aside from The Hobbit movies and The Rings of Power TV series (from Amazon, not Warner Bros), on-screen offerings of J.R.R Tolkien’s world have been limited. It was only announced earlier this year that Warner Bros will be making more The Lord of the Rings films.
Of course, the ongoing Hollywood strikes mean that whatever projects Zaslav has in mind will have to be put on the back burner until an agreement arrives. But once studios are in the clear, Zaslav has the utmost intentions of wringing as much as he can from the DC, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises.
“When you put those franchises in, it’s the best performing studio in the world. We need to deploy our best capital, and we need to do it with the best creative people in the world,” Zaslav said.