Warner Bros. Discovery International President Gerhard Zeiler has laid out the company’s post-merger strategy, reiterating his belief in cinema and commitment to “local stories,” despite HBO Max’s recent decision to cease local original programming in a number of European territories. These territories include the Nordics, Central Europe, the Netherlands, and Turkey.
Zeiler, speaking at the Royal Television Society (RTS) convention in London on Tuesday morning, emphasized the importance of telling locally relevant stories if a network aspires to be a global player. Don’t get me wrong, “the big kids” will always be Batman, Elvis, and the premiere of the U.K.’s Black Adams next month.
He mentioned Japanese and German productions as examples of WBD’s local film investments and emphasized the company’s support of streaming services.
While he acknowledged the success of WBD’s current partnership with Sky in the United Kingdom, he also revealed that the company has plans to launch its own streaming platform there. In addition, “we probably also want to have a streaming service in the U.K.,” he said.
It’s not just about global subscribers anymore; it’s also about revenue and the road to profitability.
Gerhard Zeiler recently made the following prediction about the future of cinema: “First of all, everyone who ever believed that the theatrical business — that the cinema is dead — has been proven wrong so many times, and also will be proven wrong in the future […] the theatrical business is here to stay and that’s good.”
He continued, “We don’t believe it makes sense to put all the content we have into one window,” referring to the company’s approach to the box office and streaming services. Nobody seriously thinks this is a good business case, and we don’t think this is what consumers want. It’s safe to say that we have more than one trick up our sleeves. We have faith in the effectiveness of our comprehensive approach to distribution.