Warner Bros.' Kevin Tsujihara: 'We're Going to Build a Film Franchise' Around New 'Harry Potter' Series

3:00 PM PST 09/12/2013 by Paul Bond
Kevin Tsujihara

The CEO addresses the just-announced J.K Rowling partnership at a Beverly Hills conference Thursday, adding that Ben Affleck's Batman will be "tired, and kind of weary and seasoned."

Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara touted the studio's new partnership with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling Thursday.

“The hope is that we’re going to build a film franchise” that will impact a lot of the studio's businesses, Tsujihara told a room full of Wall Street analysts.

Tsujihara also called Ben Affleck “perfect” for the next Batman, who he said will be “tired, and kind of weary and seasoned" in an untitled sequel to Zack Snyder's Man of Steel that will feature both Batman and Superman.

"Ben is perfect for the vision Zack has for that character. The fact that you saw such a passionate response in the blogosphere is really kind of a testament to the love that people have for this character," he said.

Tsujihara said several more DC superhero-related announcements are set "for the coming months," involving video games, consumer products, television and film. 

"DC really does touch a lot of parts of our business and is an important part of the strategy in how we're going to grow going forward," he said.

Tsujihara made the comments at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2013 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills.

Rowling’s movies will feature Newt Scamander, who is portrayed in the Harry Potter books as the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a Hogwart’s textbook. The films will be set -- at the outset, at least --70 years prior to Harry Potter.

Tsujihara said Fantastic Beasts won’t only be a film series, but also a video game and an attraction within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at theme parks run by Universal Parks and Resorts.

He wouldn't commit to more than one film, but made it clear that the intent is for it to draw a big audience and warrant sequels and a franchise tag. He called the project "incredibly important."

"The life-blood of the studio is the content," Tsujihara said. "We've had a long, long relationship with Clint Eastwood, Peter Jackson, Chris Nolan, Todd Phillips, Zack Snyder, and you want to make sure you can create a culture where they want to work."

On the TV side, Tsujihara boasted about selling Westworld and The Leftovers to HBO, which, like Warner Bros., is an asset of Time Warner. 

"I'm really, really excited and happy we sold our first two pilots to HBO," he said. "That was really about the culture of the companies changing, and kind of the dynamics between our two divisions are changing, and I'm really excited about that opportunity because selling to premium cable and to cable is important."

He said Mike and Molly in 2014 and Two Broke Girls in 2015 are "the big ones" when it comes to syndication plans in the near future.

Tsujihara also reiterated a goal of earning at least 10 percent of Warner Bros.' profits off of video games.

"We're by far the biggest -- probably the only studio -- that's making money on the games side like this. It's a business that we built from scratch," he said. "We are on track to having a great year in games."

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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