Despite the ink still drying on the merger of Warner Bros. and Discovery, the newly minted conglomerate may soon be taken over by another media giant.
Following the surprise cancellation of Batgirl, a film that by all accounts was mostly finished, the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery has been plagued with headlines about chaos behind the scenes as the new leadership struggles to cut costs while simultaneously rejuvenating brands like DC Comics. The studio has reportedly been searching for a Kevin Feige-type figure to do for DC what Feige does for Marvel, but the top candidate for the position, Dan Lin, has already bowed out.
At issue is the daunting task of righting a franchise that’s been slowly rebuilding after the failure of 2017’s Justice League. However, that process involved creating separate film universes for both Batman and Joker, and the whole thing is basically a huge mess. Especially when CEO David Zaslav wants a more connected DC Comics brand.
Adding even more uncertainty to the mix is talk of Warner Bros. Discovery being sold as quickly as possible. While the studio reportedly can’t do anything until 2024, insiders believe that Comcast is waiting on the sidelines to swallow up the beleaguered entity. Via The Hollywood Reporter:
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.”
When asked to comment on a potential sale, a WBD spokesperson simply told THR, “We are building Warner Bros. Discovery for the long term.” That’s not exactly a denial, so make of that what you will.