Friday, March 22, 2013

Warner Brothers' Rough 2013 Start


The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
And we act surprised
that this flopped?
UPDATE: Jeff Robinov and Bruce Rosenblum have left the studio

While the multi-billion dollar corporation isn't necessarily stressing out just yet, Warner Bros. should be a bit concerned over the recent under-performing flicks they have released. Even with an all-star cast, Gangster Squad had a disappointing release and theatrical run. Warner was hoping to tap into the male audience with its release of Sly Stallone's Bullet to the Head, but it looks like there is a serious disinterest in the macho man style films these days. Fantasy film Beautiful Creatures didn't live up to expectations either, even though it boasted a solid cast. Recently, Jack the Giant Slayer stumbled at the box office, and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone failed to light up the box office, even with a trifecta of Steve Carell, Jim Carey, and Steve Buscemi.

Help with a JLA film.
In a recent statement to The Times, Jeff Robinov, President of the WB Picture Group, expressed his disappointment with Warner's dismal box office return. However, Robinov doesn't seem too concerned with the slow start, as "...the last three or four months of the year looks incredibly strong." Even though the summer to winter lineup looks good, Warner Bros. easy money years seem to have passed.

In the past, Warner Bros. could bank on Nolan's Batman trilogy and the Harry Potter franchise to rake in the cash. However, this year features no Potter film or sure-fire successful superhero film for the studio.

When taking over in the beginning of March, freshly minted CEO Kevin Tsujihara was probably hoping for a bit better in terms of box office success. However, like Robinov, Tsujihara doesn't seem too fazed by the slow start. Some outside concerns about the studio's future remain, though.

Superman Man of Steel
There's no way Zack Snyder can mess this up. Right? right...?
Even though Robinov has gone on record saying that he won't leave the studio, there is some speculation on whether or not he will stay. Robinov and President of Warner's TV Group, Bruce Rosenblum, were passed up for the CEO spot in favor of Tsujihara. Obviously, both were miffed at the snub. Rosenblum stated that he was "disappointed" at not getting the position, but that's an obvious. Robinov would have been exceptional in the role, as he is well know in the industry for nurturing relationships with directors and a-listers. However, Tsujihara brings a lot of experience in the ever changing digital distribution in the industry. Both Robinov and Rosenblum are still at Warner, and both have been supportive of Tsujihara's efforts in the company.

Kevin Tsuijihara Burt Wonderstone
Most likely, Tsujihara at the Burt Wonderstone premiere.
Robinov praised Tsujihara saying that "Kevin knows the economics [of the industry]." Tsujihara was influential in bringing in the blockbuster The Hobbit and staving off a brewing labor dispute in New Zealand.

Drastic changes are doubtful to come, and it looks as if Tsujihara should be just fine in the CEO slot. However, we have seen studios give top execs the boot for backing poorly received films (Disney's Rich Ross and Tom Rothman of 20th Century Fox). Warner Bros. does have a hopeful summer to winter film lineup, but outside The Hobbit, there is not really a sure-fire franchise bet.

After this summer's The Hangover, Pt. III, it looks as if that franchise will stop at three (here's to hoping). In another risky undertaking, Warner backed Baz Lurhman's The Great Gatsby adaption. While it boasts an amazing cast, with a summer release, it better be a blockbuster because it stands little chance to make a strong run during the award season. Zack Snyder's Man of Steel could really be a giant step for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment. This would make both companies feel much better at going forward in a Justice League of America film franchise, with solo superhero flicks from the DC Universe.

Even though Warner Brothers has been slow out of the gate, their box office returns should start picking up. Again, it does not have Batman or Harry Potter to fall back onto when times get tough. They could have a potentially huge franchise in the Justice League. However, if Man of Steel doesn't wow critics and audiences, it may put the usually stable company a little on edge.

In the meantime, enjoy this epic trailer of Man of Steel. Lookin' good so far... 

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