Warner Bros Discovery will revisit Middle-earth after penning a deal with New Line Cinema to produce "multiple" film adaptations of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit," Warner Bros. Discovery's CEO David Zaslav said Thursday in an earnings call.
This latest Middle-earth cinematic universe expansion forms part of a larger strategy to lean into a catalog of tried-and-true movie franchises that executives hope will boost the company's streaming numbers.
"For all the scope and detail lovingly packed into the two trilogies, the vast, complex and dazzling universe dreamed up by J.R.R. Tolkien remains largely unexplored on film," Warner Bros. Pictures Group Co-Chairs and CEOs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy said in a statement following the announcement.
The original three "Lord of the Rings" films, along with three sequels based on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," enjoyed massive critical and commercial success, scooping up 17 Academy Awards and earning nearly $6 billion at the box office worldwide, according to Warner Bros. Discovery. Executives hope the newly announced movies can replicate the commercial success of the franchise's original films and draw in new subscribers to its streaming platforms.
In the fourth-quarter, Warner Bros. Discovery streaming services like HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+ added 1.1 million subscribers, bringing the company's total worldwide subscribers to 96.1 million. But those numbers weren't enough to offset the company's large cash infusions into various high-cost production projects.
Zaslav has spent his tenure at Warner Bros. Discovery rejuvenating the company's movie operations to unlock new audiences across the company's various streaming channels. Last month, Warner Bros. Discovery moved to expand its DC Comics catalog, green-lighting production of five television series and five films based on the superhero comics in a bid to rival Walt Disney Co.'s Marvel-based content.
"We are very fortunate to have a huge share of the most beloved and globally recognized storytelling IP in the world, including 'Harry Potter,' 'Game of Thrones,' 'Superman,' 'Batman,' 'Lord of the Rings,' and we intend to take full advantage of these one-of-a-kind franchises across our various platforms," Zaslav said during the earnings call.
Details about how many Tolkien films Warner Brothers Studio will produce and who will direct them have yet to be announced.
Warner Bros. Discovery posted a quarterly loss of $2.1 billion, or 86 cents a share, far higher than Wall Street estimates of a 35-cents-a-share loss. The company's profit for the period was $38 million.
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