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THR: Warner Bros. Discovery might be combined with NBCUniversal


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Heavily in-debt, Warner Bros may be sold to Comcast and combined with NBCUniversal, according to The Hollywood Reporter

 

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Given the company’s daunting challenges, it has become accepted wisdom at the highest levels of the industry that another deal waits in the wings for Warner Bros. Discovery. For reasons related to the complicated structure of that merger, no negotiations can happen until April 2024. But at that point, many industry observers believe that Comcast’s Brian Roberts will make a long-awaited move, looking to combine NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery.

That deal would face some interesting antitrust issues but would give his company scale and a viable streaming service. “Obviously Peacock sucks,” says one exec with knowledge of both companies. “There are some good synergies. I’m sure [Roberts] is licking his chops because the [WBD] stock is so low. And I think that’s Zaslav’s endgame. Get the place sold.” (Roberts and NBCU CEO Jeff Shell met with Zaslav and board member John Malone during the Allen & Co. gathering in Sun Valley last July, but given the rules against plotting any combination, that was no doubt just a friendly get-together.) A WBD spokesperson responds: “We are building Warner Bros. Discovery for the long term.” 

Many top industry execs are so convinced a deal will happen that some are pre-mourning an event that may never happen. “People feel like it’s Comcast for sure,” says the head of one company. “It’s going to be so depressing to lose another major studio [after Disney bought Fox]. And Warners was the Tiffany studio.”

Of course an obituary is premature. Maybe Warners will do a deal with Comcast, maybe not. Meanwhile, Zaslav continues his quest to find a DC superhero, but it seems possible that, eventually, De Luca and Pam Abdy — now acting heads of the division — will end up running the thing by default. De Luca was a comic book collector as a kid, and years ago, at New Line, he made Blade and even had an Iron Man movie in development. (A source says Bob Shaye, the New Line chief at the time, let the option lapse, arguing that it didn’t make sense because Iron Man was too heavy to fly.) “Mike was championing and scratching at the surface of this comic book universe long before it became the only thing that anybody is interested in seeing,” says one longtime associate. 

Given the importance of DC, it appears the top filmmakers operating in that world — Matt Reeves, Phillips and Andy Muschietti — will be shielded from that sharp Wiedenfels knife. One agent with business at the studio says De Luca and Abdy are talent-friendly, decisive and a vast improvement from when the studio sat under AT&T and Jason Kilar. “From where I sit,” he says, “it is night and fucking day from before.” 

 

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/warner-bros-discovery-has-bigger-problems-than-its-dc-search-1235221804/

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