Warner Bros Discovery international boss Gerhard Zeiler spoke at RTS – Deadline

Gerhard Zeiler has talked up the “development of franchises” including Harry Potter, DC and Game of Thrones as the key priority for the merged entity six months after he was handed the top international role.

Delivering the RTS London keynote, Zeiler said “we will focus probably more on the development of franchises” and flagged the major tentpoles that he sees as future cashcows. Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are currently battling it out for global eyeballs while a wealth of DC movies are incoming.

He spoke confidently of an improvement in cinema audiences now that the world is emerging from the pandemic, although conceding, “less movies are successful but the big ones have much better success than anyone forecasted.”

“Everyone who believed cinema is dead has been proven wrong and will be proved wrong in the future,” he added. “The theatrical business is here to stay although of course the pandemic changed things.”

Zeiler was on message, backing up Warner Bros. Discovery David Zaslav’s proclamation earlier this month that the outfit’s restructure will lead to a 10-year plan “focusing just on DC.”

Zeiler was quick to stress the strength of local content alongside the major tentpoles.

“There is one rule in our industry which is if you want to be a successful global player you have to have relevant local stories,” he added. “In order to be a top three player, you have to complement big hits with local relevant stories.”

He stressed the success of WBD-owned streamer HBO Max Spain commissions such as 30 Coins although was speaking after the streamer shut down commissioning in many European territories, making around 30 people redundant so far.

Part of this has been the long-running partnership with Sky, although Zeiler talked up having it’s own streaming service outside the pay-TV network in the coming years. HBO Max is currently unavailable in the UK due to HBO’s long-running content relationship with Sky.

Talking up post-merger strategy, he appeared to make a barbed jab at Netflix when stating the “path to profitability and revenue” are as important as subscriber numbers. Netflix’s issues with debt has been well publicized in past years.

Speaking at one of the UK’s major TV festivals, he said the UK is the “biggest market outside the U.S.” in terms of people, employees and businesses.

Zeiler spoke after recently promoted Warner Bros. Discovery  President & Managing Director, EMEA Priya Dogra, one of the big winners from the international restructure six months ago.

Zeiler was speaking at RTS London, an all-day event featuring the bosses of the major British broadcasters, production houses and Baz Luhrmann.

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