Warner Bros. Discovery’s television-focused production arm is partnering with Amazon Studios to create new animated projects based on DC Comics’ IP, yet another sign of how the company is changing under CEO David Zaslav’s leadership.
During a keynote session at C21Media’s annual Content London event this week, Warner Bros. Television Studios chair Channing Dungey opened up about some of the new moves the company plans to make as part of Zaslav’s vision for its future. According to Variety, Dungey expressed excitement for her division in particular and pointed to Zaslav’s openness to collaborating with outside production outfits as one of the major reasons why. Unlike the old guard who felt like “everything has to stay in house, we don’t want anything to go outside,” Dungey said that Zaslav’s been far more keen on the idea of working with others and getting the studio’s content onto platforms it doesn’t own outright.
“David Zaslav has been much more open to our exploring all of our animated IP and being able to do it on different platforms,” Dungey said. “Certainly HBO Max is going to be our first stop but we’re already in the process of closing a big deal with Amazon that’s going to feature some of our DC-branded content in animation.”
While Dungey didn’t go into detail about what the big Amazon deal entails — like whether these new projects will live on both Amazon Prime and whatever HBO Max is fated to become — earlier this month, Zaslav made very clear his desire to double down on existing IP like Superman. Zaslav also stated that he’s interested in returning to the world of Harry Potter to cash in on the franchise’s still-extant popularity, a sentiment Dungey echoed and said that the studio is currently having “a number of different conversations about.”
“I wish I could tell you that something was ... imminent on the horizon but there is a lot of interest and a lot of passion for it, so absolutely,” Dungey said in response to a question about whether a scripted Harry Potter might be in the works. “Our unscripted team did a fantastic ‘Return to Hogwarts’ special for HBO last year, that resonated so tremendously, then we did a quiz show, ‘The Tournament of Houses,’ that Helen Mirren was the host for. The audience is ready, they want to go, so we’re just to figure out what the right next step is.”
In light of the recent round of layoffs and restructuring at Warner Bros. Television, it makes a certain amount of sense that the studio’s moving to outsource some of that work to third parties. But the optics of Warner Bros. Discovery tapping Amazon to churn out DC superhero-themed content while it’s also trying to figure out how to keep Harry Potter relevant is somewhat depressing and makes it seem like Zaslav’s intent on sticking to his guns by going back to the well of big name IP.