“As a category more often than not you end up ahead” with the big-budget extravaganzas, the Time Warner CEO told investors today at the Jefferies Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. Despite the high costs, franchise properties are “more predictable” and “are more profitable and less risky than medium or small” budget films. Studios deserve some credit for learning from their mistakes. “In the old days the sequels were weaker” and less interesting than the original productions. With Harry Potter, though, “we made eight of them. They were all successful…but they were not the same.” Jeff Bewkes also saluted Disney’s handling of Iron Man, following the weekend success of Iron Man 3. That “shows you how you can build a franchise if you’re good at it, and all of the studios are getting good at it.” Even so, Bewkes pitched investors on the virtues of television — which he says continues to grow overseas and via online distribution. Once his company spins off its magazine publishing operation “basically 90% of Time Warner is now a television company…That’s the new Time Warner.” Indeed, Kevin Tsujihara landed the top job at Warner Bros in part due to his background in television and in finance, Bewkes says. As for his most troubled TV network, CNN, the CEO says that under Jeff Zucker “you’re seeing a lot more bounce in its step these days.” He’s optimistic about the new anchors and revamps for the network’s morning programming and plans to broaden the definition of news so it’s “not just policy, politics and war.”
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