Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes just delivered the funniest line I’ve heard so far at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference (a low bar, to be sure) as he talked up his company’s movie business. In addition to a slate that includes The Hobbit, Man Of Steel, and The Great Gatsby, he dryly says, “Hangover is coming back with a different plot. So it’s all good.” His optimism extends to the exhibition business in general, which he said at a lunch presentation is “pretty healthy” in the U.S. and several other countries. But Bewkes reiterated his concern about home video. “There’s a niche shift to rental, kiosk rental, that’s less profitable,” he says. A vigorous supporter of the entertainment industry’s UltraViolet streaming initiative, Bewkes says he hopes to “make ownership [of content] more easy and valuable, which we haven’t so far succeeded to do.…One way or another, in the long run, we think it’s a business that can grow, although it isn’t growing as fast as television.” As for the Warner Bros studio, Bewkes says that “even in the film side, which is supposed to be more variable, we’re been pretty steady.” He adds that the early feedback on The Hobbit is “very good.”
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