Size matters in entertainment even for Time Warner, which has offloaded cable systems, Internet services, and — this year –magazine publishing, CEO Jeff Bewkes told an audience today at IESE Business School in New York . Time Warner has “the world’s largest collection of film and TV” and is the No. 1 program supplier to all of the major broadcast networks aside from the networks themselves. As a result, “we have been stable [and] extremely high in our earnings and results every year for the last 10 years.” Returns on capital for TV “are bigger than in the movie business for everybody.” Still, with its slate of about 20 movies a year — about a third of which are big-budget tentpoles, Warner Bros’ “returns in the movie business are bigger, year in and year out, than for our competition.” He says he greenlighted $370M for the Lord Of The Rings trilogy because it was the most efficient way to produce the films, even though it was a bigger risk. Now Warner has “a lot of of movies coming from DC Comics — Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman. … These are going to be highly sophisticated, like Bergman movies,” he said, apparently in jest. He adds that overseas countries account for about half of the studio’s revenues and that should increase due to “huge growth in China and Russia for movies.”
Asked about expansion plans, Bewkes says Warner Bros “feels pretty good” about the game business, including from films like The Lego Movie. “You’ll see more,” he says.
And when asked why Time Warner kept its name even after it spun off Time, he joked: “We forgot. We like the name and don’t have that much imagination except for what we do onscreen. People know us. It costs money to change your corporate name. We did think about changing it to Time and Space.”