WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar speaks
In an interview with Peter Kafka on the Recode Media podcast, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar kept mostly to the expected talking points about the growth of streaming service HBO Max as it nears its first anniversary.
There were two interesting moments where he spoke about the future of movies on HBO Max and another in which he spoke about the future of CNN.
While Kilar goes into some depth about the fractured relationships that resulted from the decision to go day and date with the Warner Bros 2020 theatrical slate of films (the TL;DR version is: it was bumpy, but no regrets), the more interesting section is in regards to whether there will be more films going day and date between theatres and HBO Max.
I think you’ll see two types of movies. There’s certainly going to be the epic and the big motion pictures that will go to theaters, for sure. And they’ll go to theaters first. But there’s also going to be a number of movies that we proudly produce at Warner Brothers that go to HBO Max on the first day as well.
I don’t think you’re going to see the world go back to 2016.
I think it’s very fair to say that a big DC movie, The Batman, for example, would go exclusively to theaters first and then go to somewhere like an HBO Max after it’s in theaters.”
The assumption most make is that this means it’ll be business as usual, with big action fare going to cinema, while smaller, more adult movies go to HBO Max. The obvious example is something like the 2020 Steven Soderbergh film Let Them Talk, which starred Meryl Streep and was produced for HBO Max.
What I think people are missing is that the plans for HBO Max also include movies based on lesser known DC superheroes and other commercial fare that is simply being produced with smaller budgets. The threats to cinema exhibition is not coming from day and date theatrical releases - it’s from simply being rendered irrelevant by being swamped out by so much content on streaming services.
And don’t give me the ‘big screen communal experience’ argument. We all know that hell is other people. And home video experiences are getting bigger and better every year with bigger TV screens and there’s AR viewing experiences on the horizon. It’s somewhat frustrating that Peter Kafka never asked about that element of it. It’s the one conversation that is almost never heard on the record, but I guarantee it’s a conversation being had behind closed doors at WarnerMedia/AT&T.
CNN is in a difficult position. It needs to better embrace digital - it really can’t afford to wait any longer. But its core product is locked into traditional cable distribution. The carriage arrangements between WarnerMedia and the cable companies prevent Warner from going direct to consumer with its service. As a service, the strength of what CNN offers is the ability to go live with news of consequence and offer rolling coverage. A CNN digital platform that doesn’t offer that is really not CNN.
“It’s absolutely possible for CNN to be able to both have a linear channel, and do that incredibly well, and be able to invent and serve customers in other ways over the internet. “
“Keep in mind that when you talk about a 24-hour linear channel, there’s a certain shelf space, and it’s literally 24 hours of programming,” Kilar said. “And that might sound like a lot of programming. But I would argue that the world, given how many people aren’t in all their diverse interests and all the news that’s going on in this world, I would argue there’s a great big opportunity that is not limited by shelf space, and not limited by 24 hours, in terms of the amount of programming.”
You can listen to the podcast here:
Sony signs away movies to Netflix
Starting in 2022, Netflix will be the home for all of Sony Picture’s theatrical movies for what’s believed to be a five-year period. Until this recent auction, Sony Picture’s TV partner had been with US cable’s Starz. The deal only covers the US market.
This gives Netflix access to Sony’s movies in the pay one window (ie after films have finished playing in cinemas and been released on home video). This will include huge franchise titles like Spider-Man, Venom, Jumanji, and more. It should be close to about 20-25 films a year and Netflix will also get first-look access to buy films from the Sony Pictures library.
RIP James Hampton
Actor James Hampton died at the age of 84. The actor’s biggest claim to fame was as Hannibal Dobbs on F Troop, but he was also remembered for roles in The Longest Yard, and as the father in Teen Wolf (and Teen Wolf Too).
Throughout his extensive career he appeared in front of the camera with an extensive filmography including films like The China Syndrome, Pump Up The Volume, and Sling Blade, along with a long list of TV shows including The Rockford Files, Get a Life, Melrose Place, Days of Our Lives, Murder She Wrote, and The Dukes of Hazard. He also went on to voice his character from the Teen Wolf films in the Teen Wolf animated series.
Hampton also directed episodes of TV on shows including Evening Shade, Grace Under Fire, and Hearts Afire.
Hampton was the first character actor I really remember noticing as a kid. He kept on popping up in all of my favourite movies as a youngster - the Teen Wolf films, Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, and Condorman. It’s sad to note his passing today.
His autobiography What? And Give Up Show Business? was released in Feb this year.
- Queer As Folk is set to be reimagined for a new series streaming on Peacock. Read: TV Insider
- The Nash Bridges revival series is heading into production with Don Johnson. Read: Deadline
- MacGyver, the series you didn’t realise had been running for five seasons already, has been cancelled. I can’t wait to see how he gets outta this one… Read: Variety
- ITV has renewed McDonald & Dodds for a third season. If you’re not familiar with the show, I have a review of it on this week’s Screen Watching podcast (released later today). Read: C21
- France Télévisions has picked up Australian animated children’s series Bluey. Read: C21
- Patricia Hodge will replace Diana Rigg in All Creatures Great and Small. Read: Deadline
The Woman In The Window debuts on Netflix May 14
Anna Fox (Amy Adams) feels safest when she's watching the world from behind her window; until the Russell family moves in across the street, and she witnesses something unimaginable.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series season 2 returns to Disney+ on May 14.
The Chi season 4 debuts May 23.
What’s next? Tomorrow.