WarnerMedia’s CEO explained how Warner Bros. is adjusting to the HBO Max platform. As a part of CES 2021, Ann Sarnoff gave her read of the evolving entertainment landscape. (credit to The Verge’s Julia Alexander for the transcription.) HBO Max has been a massive priority for the company since before it’s launch. Interestingly enough, the coronavirus pandemic has only amplified the need for a direct to consumer streaming platform. Both Warner and Disney have to be thanking their lucky stars that these apps got off the ground before the entertainment industry ground to a halt last summer. For Sarnoff, there is an added dimension of chaos because of all the theatrical movement in the wake of COVID-19. Big projects like The Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman 1984 had to have their releases tweaked. Fun films like Birds of Prey got their theatrical runtime shortened thanks to the virus. So, there’s a ton of urgency to get everyone back on the right track.
"I knew WarnerMedia was siloed, much was written about it, but I didn't realize how siloed Warner Bros. was in and of itself...one of the things I said early on was, 'You don't want your fans to see your org chart, and boy can they see it now,” she explained. “It is really hard to spend the marketing you need to spend and launch when certain cities are opening/closing...we knew Tenet would play well overseas and we took that bet and we're happy with that bet."
In some previous comments about the state of the theater business, Sarnoff explained that Warner Bros. wouldn’t be stepping in to buy a chain. But, the company is still absolutely rooting for them.
“I’m kind of an armchair sociologist and I believe people want to have communal experiences and especially with certain genres,” Sarnoff explained while pointing toward the company’s genre offerings. “We’re big fans of the exhibitors. They’ve been good partners of ours for many decades. We’re rooting for them. I know it’s tough sledding right now. I’m hoping they come out on the other side, probably even stronger.”
When The Batman was delayed, she said, “We’re still in the middle of investigating what is the situation. We’re pausing temporarily for now until we have more information, but we have all the protocols set up to do contact tracing and hopefully get back up into production very soon.”
Do you think that WarnerMedia could do with exploring some other superhero stories? Let us know down in the comments!