Warner Bros is, in my opinion, the model of what a modern movie studio can be.
That doesn't mean I think every one of their films is a classic or that every decision they make is perfect. I just mean that they manage their assets as well as any company could, and in the process, they actually seem to support filmmakers in taking risks sometimes.
Running a studio has very little to do with the love of movies, and that makes film fans absolutely mental sometimes. Deservedly. I find decision-making infuriating sometimes from a creative point-of-view, but taken simply as numbers in a ledger, some of those choices end up making a lot more sense. What's great is when the artistic and the financial occasionally collide.
I'm not remotely surprised to hear that they've set a release date for "Sherlock Holmes 2." As recently as a month ago, Jude Law was denying that the sequel was going to happen, but now there's a release date of December 16, 2011 set for the film, something that was announced at a presentation this morning in New York by Warner chairman and CEO Barry Meyer.
If I were a Warner Bros. stockholder, I'd be pretty excited about the information Meyer gave to them today according to an article in the Hollywood Reporter. In addition to confirming the "Sherlock Holmes 2" date, he talked about the end of the biggest franchise in Warner Bros. history, the "Harry Potter" films. It now seems that "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II" will hit theaters in 3D on July 15 on 2011, wrapping up a franchise that's going to end up being worth somewhere around $7.5 billion worldwide.
In the meantime, the studio also set dates for "The Hangover 2" (May 26, 2011), "Green Lantern" (June 17, 2011), "Happy Feet 2" (November 18, 2011), and a sequel to this year's "Valentine's Day" called "New Year's Eve" (December 9, 2011). All of that would be news enough, but Meyer went on to talk about the plan that the studio has for replacing the "Potter" series with lots and lots of DC superhero films. "Green Lantern" is just the tip of the iceberg for Warner Bros., and they may well try to emulate the Marvel Studios "road to 'The Avengers'" strategy by putting together movies that will introduce various members of the Justice League before finally uniting them all in one giant movie.
We've written about that a little bit already, but Meyer today confirmed IESB's story about a new "Superman" movie aimed at a December 2012 release, and hinted that "The Flash" may well be right around the corner as well. With July 20, 2012 already set in stone for a third Christopher Nolan "Batman" film, and with Nolan serving as a godfather on that "Superman" movie, it looks like 2012 is going to be one of the biggest years of superhero cinema ever.
Meyer mentioned that Wonder Woman and Aquaman are both in development as well, and even hinted that they may be turning MAD magazine characters into feature film properties soon. Anyone want to start guessing at the casting on "Spy Vs. Spy" right now?
What I found most interesting in the piece, even more than the release date stuff, is the idea that Warner Bros. is already eyeing a major push into 3D Blu-ray as a key piece of their home video strategy. Meyer said they'll be releasing all the "Harry Potter" films on 3D Blu-Ray, for example, which sounds costly and ambitious. I guess that means they're going to retrofit the entire series in Blu-ray. If they do, I hope they give Chris Columbus a chance to rework the Quidditch scenes in the first film the way he wants to.
Overall, when Meyer says there's no such thing as luck in the economic world, he's speaking from a very secure position, because Warner Bros. obviously has a game plane in place for the next few years that promises to yield major financial rewards and, if we're lucky, offer up a few creative peaks as well.
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