Friday, June 14, 2024

UPDATE Warner Discovery Stock CLOSES DOWN 16.5% as Zaslav Backs Off Bad News But It’s Still Taken That Way


UPDATE: Stock closed down 16.5%, at 14.50 down 1.00 from Monday.

Yesterday afternoon’s earnings call for Warner Discovery was like a wild opera. You just kept waiting for the fat lady to sing.

In the end, she didn’t. The whole thing, almost two hours, came to naught. Whatever seemed like to might happen didn’t.

Nevertheless, Warner Discovery stock this morning is down almost 16%, off by nearly $3. Even though there was no news, everyone took it badly.

You could say David Zaslav blinked. The call had been preceded by PR trial balloons. On social media, everyone fretted that HBO Max would disappear, subsumed into Discovery Plus. With the cancellation of “Batgirl,” the question remained about “The Flash” since star Ezra Miller has become Hollywood’s Least Wanted, with scandals galore trailing after him.

Perhaps Zaslav actually got the message that anything beyond the “Batgirl” debacle would cause the opera to turn into “Gotterdammerung.” There would be floods and fires. The world as we know it would collapse. So he backed off.

We left the call not knowing what the new combined streaming service would be called. It became clear through the two hours that HBO Max has become a popular brand. Asked about it, Zaslav started singing anthems about HBO chief Casey Bloys. “He’s staying for five years!” Zaslav purred. e also said, “HBO Max is the centerpiece of our streaming plan” and “We embrace and support HBO Max.” (If I were HBO Max, I’d be calling my divorce lawyer and a private eye.)

Then Zaslac endorsed “The Flash,” including it in films he’s very proud of.( That is, until Ezra Miller is arrested as a serial killer.) You know, why say it’s dead now when it’s a year away? And most importantly: Will there be massive layoffs when HBO Max and Discovery Plus merge? Shhhh…No one brought that up.

For now…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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