Discovery chief David Zaslav announced the new name Tuesday morning as he held a town hall with WarnerMedia employees from the Warner Bros. studio’s Burbank lot.
More from Variety
“Warner Bros. Discovery will aspire to be the most innovative, exciting and fun place to tell stories in the world – that is what the company will be about,” Zaslav said in a statement. “We love the new company’s name because it represents the combination of Warner Bros.’ fabled hundred year legacy of creative, authentic storytelling and taking bold risks to bring the most amazing stories to life, with Discovery’s global brand that has always stood brightly for integrity, innovation and inspiration. There are so many wonderful, creative and journalistic cultures that will make up the Warner Bros. Discovery family. We believe it will be the best and most exciting place in the world to tell big, important and impactful stories across any genre – and across any platform: film, television and streaming.”
The new moniker was unveiled along with a graphic of the company’s name that floats in a cloudy sky in bold yellow lettering, carrying the tagline: “The stuff that dreams are made of.” That is a reference to a line from the 1941 classic “The Maltese Falcon,” a gritty John Huston crime drama that helped define Warner Bros. in that era. It will be part of the company’s “wordmark” in a nod to “the rich legacy of Warner Bros. and the focus of what the proposed company will be about,” Discovery said.
The decision to showcase the Warner Bros. studio name in the company is telling and was well received by studio rank-and-file. Zaslav and his team have doubt has heard complaints from Warner Bros. veterans that the AT&T years were particularly hard on morale. AT&T and Discovery rocked the industry on May 17 by unveiling plans to combine Discovery and AT&T’s Time Warner assets into a joint venture that would be spun off as a separate entity.
Zaslav expanded upon the decision to rechristen the company while he was interviewed on the stage at the Steven J. Ross Theater by Jason Kilar, the WarnerMedia CEO whose future with the company has been the subject of much speculation. If there was tension between Kilar, who is widely expected to leave the company once Discovery takes over, and Zaslav, the man who will supplant him atop the entertainment conglomerate, it didn’t show. The two men were all smiles, with Zaslav at one point mentioning that he’d known Kilar for over 15 years. The two men overlapped as executives at NBC. Zaslav said that during that time he had greatly admired Warner Bros.’ television output, noting that he many of primetime TV’s biggest hits, such as “ER” and “Friends,” were Warner Bros. productions.
Zaslav said that Warner Bros. is being included in the new name because it is “synonymous with 98 years of excellence.”
WarnerMedia is being combined with Discovery at a time when streaming services such as Netflix and Disney Plus are upending the media business. But Zaslav and Kilar stressed that despite these changes, linear television remains highly profitable and should not be dismissed. Kilar also talked up some of the studio’s upcoming releases, including “In the Heights,” a Lin-Manuel Miranda musical that is directed by Jon M. Chu. It will debut in theaters at the same time it premieres on HBO Max. Both Zaslav and Kilar also gave a shout-out to “Mare of Easttown,” the Kate Winslet mystery series that wrapped up its acclaimed run on Sunday.
The town hall lasted for 45 minutes and was seen on video by WarnerMedia’s global workforce. Roughly 70 senior staffers were in the room with Zaslav, including WarnerMedia Networks and Studios chair Ann Sarnoff, Warner Bros. Pictures Group chief Toby Emmerich, and HBO chief contentoOfficer Casey Bloys. There were no questions from the audience and several pressing issues, such as the possibility of layoffs that will accompany the spinoff, went unaddressed.
Best of Variety