Through TheFLY's Eyes: Time Warner
“Superman Returns” To Reinvigorate Time Warner’s Brand
In media and entertainment circles, they call it “reinvigorating the brand.”
Actor Charlton Heston accomplished it for motion picture studio 20th Century Fox in 1968 with a performance in a film that brought the company back from near-bankruptcy. The film: “Planet Of The Apes.”
Managing Editor Ben Bradlee accomplished it for the then-languishing Washington Post with his intelligence, tenacity, instincts, and commitment to two reporters named Woodward and Bernstein, who would change not only The Post’s reputation, but American history, itself.
And former NBC “Today” show host Katie Couric will try to achieve it for CBS when she takes over as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” in September 2006.
Moreover, Time Warner (TWX) is hoping for a similar reinvigoration of the brand with the launch of motion picture “Superman Returns” by unit Warner Bros.
Still, it’s fair to ask: can a motion picture boost a major multi-national corporation’s bottom line, as well as its stature and image? Indeed it can. A major success by a motion picture – called a “blockbuster” in the industry – can mean the difference between a profitable year or a yearly loss for a studio, and can add hundreds of millions of dollars to the bottom line of a conglomerate such as Time Warner.
Further, a blockbuster film can uplift or “reinvigorate” the company’s brand: it signals to the company’s media competitors and potential partners that the company is in-touch with the vast contemporary audience and that it’s a workplace where innovative ideas are being generated and implemented.
Warner Bros. spent $260M to produce “Superman Returns,” which means the film will have to gross about $550M to turn a profit. Generally, motion picture studios receive about 50% of gross ticket sales, and after factoring other costs, most films need to more than double their production costs to reach profitability. If “Superman Returns” grosses $550M, that would place it among the Top 50 films in worldwide grosses.
Further, given that films typically gross twice as much in international markets as they do in the United States, “Superman Returns” would probably need to gross about $175M in the United States [and, by extension, $375M internationally] to turn a profit.
Nevertheless, reinvigoration can not occur without a film’s success, and a film’s success is tied to the quality of its script, so how does the “Superman Returns” script fare? From initial reviews, very well. With an engaging story and intelligent dialogue, “Superman Returns” shows us the Man of Steel and his chief admirer Lois Lane both growing and adapting to the changing demands of the postmodern world, without altering the universal truth that through it all, what matters most is virtue. It’s a film that’s likely to reinvigorate Time Warner, and probably many others, as well.