Kremlinologists will have a goddam FIELD DAY with this long piece in the New York Times on Time Warner’s new strategy entitled: Holy Cash Cow, Batman! Content Is Back at Time Warner, which details CEO Jeff Bewkes effort to dig TW stock out of the AOL-induced doldrums, an effort to which the success of DARK KNIGHT is integral:
Mr. Meyer is the chairman of Warner Brothers, the Hollywood studio behind “The Dark Knight,” and the film has had its debut at a transformative moment for his studio’s parent, Time Warner.
In an effort to focus more sharply on “content creation” (or what nonsuits still like to call movies and television shows), Jeffrey L. Bewkes, who became chief executive of Time Warner in January, is whittling down the company’s many branches.
It’s a makeover that will unravel about two decades’ worth of mergers that created the company in its current form, putting its trophy studio, Warner Brothers — as well as the ups and downs of moviemaking — more directly in Wall Street’s glare.
Time Warner, initially the amalgam of the old Warner studio and the Time Inc. magazine empire, grew to include Turner Broadcasting, America Online, a cable company and such prized cable channels as HBO. Some analysts have had a hard time embracing this goliath as it has grown into the world’s biggest media company.
The story does not mention DC Comics; however it does mention that TW’s publishing arm is under scrutiny:
It is less clear how the Time Inc. unit, which publishes magazines like Time, People, In Style, Fortune and Sports Illustrated, meshes with Mr. Bewkes’s strategy. According to Time Warner insiders, the company is likely to shrink the publishing unit to just a handful of the most profitable titles. Some analysts predict that Time Warner might try to sell the publishing unit en masse, but only if market conditions improve.
Fortunately, DC Comics is, famously, part of the entertainment division and not part of the publishing arm, a move facilitated over the years by Paul Levitz. One imagines that whatever has been going on with Time Warner of late has also been going on with DC, and this almost certainly ties in to the widely reported “DC movie retreat.”
As someone who’s been in the content production business for a couple of decades, the most interesting quote of all was this:
For Mr. Bewkes and his team, the core of the strategy is a wager that the media pendulum will swing away from distribution and back toward content.
Ya think? That’s one bet we’ll take.