Loyalty can do wonderful things when you’re in the entertainment business. However, that kind of confidence can only get you so far, and those limits have apparently been tested at Warner Bros. With new CEO David Zaslav trying to cut fat and cancel production of upcoming movies at the studio, his pragmatic approach to running the business is fully effective. Which is why he wouldn’t have been very happy when he found out that Clint Eastwood’s flop macho cry was made when executives thought it would not be a box office winner.
Apparently, a first meeting between Zaslav and other studio executives revealed this. In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, it was mentioned that Warner Bros. brass. authorized macho cry to do despite a supposed loss of millions. The reasons? Apparently, not only was Eastwood a top actor/director who gave the studio massive hits like the dirty harry movies and unforgiven, he never exceeded his budget and always arrived on time. David Zaslav, unimpressed by this response, replied with the following:
This statement is even more powerful given the clear doubts about how macho cry would perform at the box office turned out to be just fine. Even with a low budget of $33 million, Clint Eastwood’s latest film only made around $15.5 million when it hit theaters. That probably didn’t help macho cry debuted simultaneously on HBO Maxas part of the film series that tested the waters for the future of cinematic exploitation.
Once the recent merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery completed, David Zaslav immediately set to work cleaning up. Zaslav not only canceled the wonder twins film, but it also suspended scripted programming on both TNT and TBS. While a firm believer in courting the talent that brought glory to the Warner Bros. lot, the profile quoted above shows David quoting a business mantra that Tom Cruise fans Jerry Maguire are familiar with:
David Zaslav’s business approach at Warner Bros. probably makes people wonder how far loyalty to brand and personalities goes in terms of decision-making. This is a particularly powerful question when considering the recent meeting announced between Zaslav and Magic world franchise creator JK Rowling. With the last two fantastic beasts underperforming films at the box office, at least compared to the franchise’s past efforts, this divide could be significant in a post-Harry Potter world. In fact, it’s probably the most important factor in deciding whether or not they’ll be a Fantastic Beasts 4 in theaters or on HBO Max.
The power of loyalty is an argument that cuts both ways, even at Warner. In the pre-Zaslav era, we saw this bond tested and eventually severed between the studio and Christopher Nolan. 2021’s simulcast experiment led to Nolan breaking up with Warner Bros., delivering his next movie Oppenheimer to compete with the Universal studio. Although David Zaslav thinks the studio owes its creators no favors, I guess losing the director may still sting a bit.
A new day is dawning at Warner Bros., and I’m curious to see where this new regime will lead. However, if you haven’t seen macho cry Where Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets, both films are currently streaming on the HBO Max platform. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. next film marketing test will be Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, fresh off his polarizing Cannes debut. This film will be released in theaters on June 24.