Warner Bros. sent surprising word today that it has bumped Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from a release this November all the way back to July 17, 2009 — a savvy numerological strategy landing Potter exactly one year's worth of Fridays from its opening day for The Dark Knight. Studio boss Alan Horn officially attributed the move to more practical considerations, however, namely the fact that Warners' vibrant content chain is missing a few links next summer thanks to the writer's strike. But don't get any ideas about Jonze-esque hold-ups or other snags, added Jeff Robinov:
We took the better part of two days to process the NYT's recent recognition of Warner Bros. as the crown jewel at Time Warner, where Jeff Bewkes, Barry Meyer, Alan Horn and Co. are venerated at length for emphasizing "content" (i.e. their film and TV properties) ahead of "distribution" outlets like AOL, DVD and on-demand services. It's an oddly situational success story; in fact, it opens with WB chairman Meyer literally inhaling the incoming fax telling him The Dark Knight made $66 million on opening day, and namechecks Two and a Half Men among a handful of TV series that are finding lucrative traction internationally. There's also the HBO factor and the Turner channels' flourishing as well. And while we can't and/or wouldn't argue any of these points, a ceremonious Warners rimjob also seems untimely. After all, what did Meyer do with his Speed Racer faxes on opening weekend? That and a few more pressing questions after the jump.1. What about Speed Racer? Warners' legacy is one of adventurous flops and sturdy gambles, not messianic cultural events like TDK. If the point is a "content" state-of-the-union, then it's worth noting that the studio also dropped the summer's biggest bomb. For which, by the way, we love them; Where the Wild Things Are isn't likely to fare much better, but it is nice to know it's there. 2. What about Warner Independent and Picturehouse? The slimmed-down New Line earns a cursory mention, but its return to genre-junk roots is one of Time Warner's signature (and slightly desperate) content revisions since the AOL merger. And the axed Picturehouse — which had a strong summer of Mongol and Kit Kittredge after winning three Oscars in February — was all about "content" that's hit and missed just as regularly as the mother ship. 3. What about Get Smart? Again, the sturdy gamble is the thing: A hit that's grossed $200 million worldwide, will land equally hard on DVD and VOD and has sequels on the way. Screw TDK, really — Bewkes needs more like this, and he needs them recognized. 4. Did you know that Charlie Sheen makes $800,000 per episode of Two and a Half Men? A bit of rehash of an earlier question here at Defamer, we know, but a phenomenon we've come to now grudgingly accept knowing that T&HM is the flagship of a $4 billion television empire. Not that we get it; feel free to continue discussing below. 5. Whither questions and actual answers about new media revenues? Just because Tim Arango is writing all about Warners' precious "content" doesn't mean Bewkes can get away without answering his own query, "[T]he consumption of entertainment products is growing rapidly... The question is how do you offer it, and how do you get paid for it?" And this guy wonders why TW stock still hovers around $16. Come on, Jeff.
In what is quickly escalating into a bitter, Riggs vs. King-esque volley played out on the cement courts of the media—first Deadline Hollywood Daily claimed Warner Bros. president of production Jeff Robinov was scrawling "DEEP TURNAROUND" in pink hi-liter on any project with a female lead, then Robinov fights back by listing every chick-flick he's ever made, will make, or hopes to remake for Variety—now Salon enters the fray, assembling an impressive panel of industry women to weigh in on the state of the Hollywood sexes. While the discussion takes several interesting turns, we join them in the midst of a lively debate over the feminist merits of beauty-and-the-schlub megahit Knocked Up:
Hoping to supplement a recently issued official denial of Friday's Deadline Hollywood Daily story claiming that he's no longer interested in throwing his money down a vagina-shaped well by producing female-star-driven features, Warner Bros. president of production Jeff Robinov takes to the trades today to reaffirm his studio's continuing commitment to lady-based entertainments, helpfully running down for Variety every chick flick he's made, wishes he'd made, or one day plans to make:
Today's NY Times' looks at the strategy that Warner Bros. executives are embracing going forward from the bomb-strewn summer (Superman Returns, Lady in the Water, The Ant Bully, and, of course, Poseidon) that's left the studio in sixth place at the box office this year: tucking their heads between their knees and hoping that one of their "smaller" movies (like, say, that little Scorsese flick) performs above expectations, buying them enough job security to make it to next year's guaranteed blockbuster, Harry Potter. In the story, shellshocked-but-resolute WB muckity-mucks Jeff Robinov and Alan Horn lament that people have harped on their higher-profile disasters, while ignoring all the money they've proudly lost on lower-budgeted projects: