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Author Topic: New Warner Bros. CEO Might Axe 50-Year Partnership With Clint Eastwood  (Read 1966 times)
AKA23
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« on: May 20, 2022, 12:07:50 PM »

I just read an article that I thought all the Eastwood fans on the board may be interested in discussing. I would be surprised if Warners ended its relationship with Eastwood, but it does appear that the new CEO may not be interested in green lighting any future Eastwood projects that he doesn't think will make money. What does everyone think of this?

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Clint Eastwood has been making movies with Warner Bros. for over 50 years now. It?s been one of the most trust-worthy and lasting director/studio friendships in the industry.

Sadly, I don?t think newly promoted Warner CEO David Zaslav gives a damn. A recent conference call Zaslav had with the movie studio?s executives leaked and it looks like this hotshot would not flinch if he wanted to let go of Eastwood?s partnership with the studio.

The major point of contention was Eastwood?s box-office flop ?Cry Macho.? After executives told Zaslav that they had doubted the movie would turn a profit,  Zaslav asked ?then why did you make it if you had reservations?? When they replied that Eastwood had given the studio many hits and never delivered a movie late or over budget, he answered: ?We don?t owe anyone any favors.?

Eastwood is turning 92 next week. He has nothing more to prove, but he still wants to make the small-budgeted movies he seems to be churning out on a yearly basis. Zaslav taking over is very bad news for not just Eastwood, but quality cinema as a whole. His attitude seems repugnant. That's not  a way to talk about a man who brought your studio a ton of prestige over the last five decades with critically-acclaimed and award-winning movies.

https://www.worldofreel.com/blog/2022/5/rdsudp9b9mk5ltihegb2w6uehinkvv
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2022, 12:24:17 AM »

I can understand Warner Bros. taking this action. If you're not making money for the studio, they're not going to keep you on. No matter how long you've been with them. There's no loyalty in big business unfortunately.

Clint's had a good run but nothing lasts forever. :(

Besides I'm sure there are other studios out there ready to jump at the chance if Warners aren't interested.
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Christopher
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2022, 11:11:05 AM »

There was also the same day HBO Max release of Cry Macho, which didn't help the box office performance of the movie (not that it would have been a hit if it had released exclusively to theaters). It does feel kind of cold from the new CEO, but like SK said, they're not going to keep making movies if they feel they'll keep losing money.

I guess one solution would be to cut the budget down so that it wouldn't have to do big business in theaters to make a profit.

But I also wonder are they going to actually axe the relationship or just say no to future projects if they feel like they won't do well enough?

And I'm also wondering how many more movies Eastwood has left in him anyhow.
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Macpherson
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2022, 11:33:03 AM »


He obviously knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.....
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LB13
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2022, 04:26:15 PM »

I guess I can't expect them to keep financing movies that don't pay off. Ability to take risks is perhaps a producer's most valuable trait, so I hope not everything that isn't a blockbuster gets axed under this leadership. Even if, Clint's still able to pull off a box-office hit I feel like, especially if you look at the figures from movies like Sully or The Mule, which are all pretty recent. Cry Macho was never going to be a big hit - between the lack of big name actors (spare for Clint, obviously), the lackluster promotional campaign (I think audiences can only fall for the Watch Clint Eastwood in action one last time tagline only so many times), the streaming release, with Covid still prevalent. But hey, if the right project comes along, I don't think having him attached as a director, producer or an actor is anything like box-office poison or something. 
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Hocine
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2022, 05:11:02 PM »

I just read two other articles which deal with the same subject:

https://www.indiewire.com/2022/05/clint-eastwood-cry-macho-fail-warner-bros-box-office-1234726781/amp/

https://nypost.com/2022/05/19/david-zaslav-blasted-warner-bros-execs-for-greenlighting-clint-eastwood-flop-report/amp/

At first sight, CEO David Zaslav does not seem to be a great cinema lover but a businessman first.
So, I am not so surprised with his position and his strategy. Hollywood and its industry has changed. It is a new era now. For instance, the star-system is not as powerful as thirty or even twenty years ago.
All studios want to make big profits before making great films.
However, I would be disappointed, if Clint was no more be able to make any film he would want with Warner Bros.
After all, Clint contributed to write the best pages of Warners history. Warner Bros used to be a precious supporter of filmmakers with a true artistic vision. I once considered Warner Bros as the best studio in Hollywood.
So many great films were made there.
Last year, Cry Macho was not the only flop of Warner Bros nor its greatest one.
Some movies which were supposed to become box office hits, were even bigger flops than Cry Macho: The Suicide Squad and The Matrix: Resurrections. Moreover, Cry Macho was not so expensive, even in the Clint films budgets standards. So, why is Cry Macho especially attacked ? Maybe CEO David Zaslav just wants to push Clint to retire. If we look at upcoming Warner Bros films, most of them belong to DCEU films which are supposed to compete with the Marvel films. The Elvis biopic is one of the rare exceptions. So many great directors went to Netflix, Amazon or Apple TV+ because they are no longer supported by traditional Hollywood studios.
Whatever his future in film business would be, Clint had a long journey in it and nobody can erase what he accomplished so well. Not even that new CEO.
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AKA23
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« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2022, 07:01:10 AM »

Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this! In my opinion, I don't think "Cry Macho" should have been made. There was no way with the script that they had that they could have possibly made a good film. I also don't think "15:17 to Paris" should have been made, for the same reason. The existing problems in both films with the scripts were compounded by Eastwood by choosing cast members that were either unknown, or in the case of "15:17 to Paris", had no acting experience. If what the CEO is saying is that he is going to apply more scrutiny to Eastwood's future projects, and that he won't automatically green light any film just because Eastwood says he wants to make it, and Clint has to search for better material next time, that wouldn't be the worst thing for me as an Eastwood fan.

At the same time, I personally wouldn't have made "Richard Jewell", but he did actually make a good movie out of the story, and Kathy Bates did get an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Jewell's Mom. I think if I were a studio head, my primary goal would be to make a good film, my secondary goal would probably be critical acclaim and Oscar nominations (if the film is the type of film where that is possible), and my third goal would be for it to make money. Not every film necessarily needs to be a huge money maker for the studio. Making money is only one criteria for a successful film. There is always a balance, which is one of the reasons that the industry is so fond of making sequels and remakes, because those are usually more reliable box office performers. A reflexive policy that any film that was judged before production to be likely not to make money would therefore not be financed, would also lead to only safe films being made, with little to no risk being taken, which would really take away from the richness of film as an art, and further reduce the diversity of the type of films that ended up being made.

Also, "The Mule" made $175 million worldwide, on a $50 million budget, and that was just three films ago, so Eastwood can still, with the right story, be a box office draw, I think. I think had Eastwood and the screen writer not botched the portrayal of the female journalist, by implying that she traded sex for information, that "Richard Jewell" would have gotten even better reviews and more critical acclaim, because the film otherwise was very well done, but that movie never would have been a huge money maker for the studio. The prestige that accrues to the studio from either making a very well done film, or a film which receives Oscar nominations, is sometimes more important to the reputation of the studio than how much money it makes.

Also, it is very difficult to accurately determine how audiences may respond to a film in advance of it being released. Warners didn't want to make either "Million Dollar Baby", or "Mystic River", and both made a lot of money for Warner Bros when they were released.

In summary, if the CEO's views encourage Eastwood to apply more scrutiny to his future projects, I think that might be a good thing, but I disagree that every film needs to be a money maker for the studio, and I think it's more difficult to determine that in advance than the CEO might think that it it is. If the film being proposed won't make a good film because the material just isn't there, and it also won't make money or bring prestige to the studio, I think that's a perfectly valid reason to decline to finance a film, even if its someone of Eastwood's calibre that wants to make it.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2022, 12:14:01 PM by AKA23 » Logged
Christopher
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« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2022, 12:29:55 PM »

How much money a movie makes will always be important to a studio, but that money doesn't all have to come from box office either. There's streaming rights, physical media and digital releases, and TV rights.
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AKA23
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2022, 05:25:44 PM »

How much money a movie makes will always be important to a studio, but that money doesn't all have to come from box office either. There's streaming rights, physical media and digital releases, and TV rights.

This is a very legitimate point that I agree with. How much money a movie makes will always be important to a studio, and it should be. As you point out, that money can be made in a variety of different ways outside of the money a film makes at theaters. However, I think that the revenue a film generates is only one of several measures of success that a studio head would, and should, care about--the others being critical reception and Oscar nominations, and actually making a good film that a studio would be proud to associate with their company. Both of those measures of success affect the reputation of the studio, its viability, the brand, and the likelihood that the studio will be seen as a go to company for prestigious films to be made in the future. Also, I think total revenue from all the films made, and making money in the aggregate, is much more important than each individual film being a money maker for the studio.

Additionally, I think being seen as a hospitable place for filmmakers to bring their projects to be made would also be important to a studio head, and this CEO's comments are kind of in tension with that goal. I wouldn't have financed "Cry Macho", but that doesn't necessarily mean that any of Clint's future projects would be money losers, and I wouldn't necessarily want to alienate him from making future films with Warner Bros because a couple movies recently didn't make money. After all, who among us could have predicted that "American Sniper," which was released in 2014, so not a million years ago, would have been the highest grossing movie of 2014 in the U.S., and would go on to make $550 million at the global box office?
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batfunk2
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« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2022, 06:28:02 AM »

I agree with AKA23, a bit more control from WB is not necessarily a bad thing. We saw it with my other hero made in WB, Prince.
But I'm more pessimistic, visionnary  and cultured movies producers are gone from a long time(since 1980s  according many Great Directors).
Financials took progressively control of many entertaining sectors, soccer for instance in Europe. They don't care about creativity or long term building, they want a quick return on investment.
In France, it's different, movies Producers finance   small movies with  money earned with  successful Big movies. More, small movies benefit from gouvernemental financial assistance to preserve and promote french movies industry. Anyway, if  one day, Clint  fails to  fund his movies(i hope not) , many  european would be happy to produce him. We did it before(Jules Dassin, Joseph Losey, Orson Welles, Chaplin...)
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Hocine
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« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2022, 01:28:07 PM »

I agree with AKA23, in many ways.
Warner Bros new policy may be challenging and good for Clint. It could get him out of his comfort zone. Who knows ?

On the other hand, I am not sure that Clint would like to have headaches with that new direction.
Especially at that stage of his career and his life.

Moreover, I would not say that Cry Macho or The 15:17 to Paris should not have been made. Even if those films are not among his best ones. In fact, I think that a film career is made of success and failure: then, we can measure the evolution of an actor or a director. Failure is part of the learning process. Without his mistakes or missteps, Clint would not have the same career now. He named his company, Malpaso, which means bad step in Spanish. Then, Clint is more than conscious about the fact that success is not a certainty.

Nothing or nobody can guarantee a financial success or a critical success.
Plus, Clint does not have the habit to follow surveys, what computers say or what is fashionable.
He just follows his instincts: sometimes, it works, sometimes, it does not.
At least, Clint does not act like a gambler or a guesser, when making a picture.

Batfunk2, if Warner Bros does not green light some project, Clint can propose it to an other Hollywood studio.

Warner Bros CEO wants more Harry Potter films.

In your opinion, which kind of films Clint can propose to Warner Bros ?
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batfunk2
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« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2022, 08:16:24 PM »

Other Studios ?For how long ? Amazon owns MGM since 2021, 20th century fox is owned by Disney since 2019... All of  them are focused nearly exclusively  on streaming since Covid emptied movies theaters...
And look at the Us 2022 box office:




Frightening, the  Top 3 movies(all Super heroes movies..) made as money as the sum of all other top 100 grosses !!! My favorite movies of the year, Licorice Pizza from P. T Anderson only made 11 millions dollars ! Jesus, where is the place for talented Director's movies ?! Hopefully, Eastwood is still popular but he needs a hit and quickly. Don't forget he was close of exit at the end of the 80's after some bombs at box-office, Unforgiven saved his ass lol
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« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2022, 12:28:03 AM »

That's a bit disappointing news to hear, business and profitability taking over real craftsmanship. But not really surprising, is it?
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« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2022, 07:02:20 AM »

I just hope that Clint will be able to get a green light from Warner Bros, in the future.
But I am a little skeptical and pessimistic, when learning how the new CEO wants to manage WB.
The fact that Cry Macho was especially targeted, is clearly a soft manner to push Clint to the way out. Pure and simple.
The new CEO knows that Clint does not make pictures for the box-office.
As I said, Cry Macho was far from being WB biggest flop in 2021.
When you see WB next projects, there is no more place for adult dramas: this year, we have Baz Luhrmann's Elvis and Olivia Wilde's Don't Worry Darling.
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Christopher
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« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2022, 09:56:10 AM »

Yeah, a decent number of the movies released to HBO Max and theaters at the same time didn't do that well either, which I think might have been pointed out elsewhere in this thread.
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Perry
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« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2022, 03:10:13 PM »

 

               If your running a business and invest and nada comes back it is what it is. You can bring up the fact the movie industry is crap today and the movies being made are as well, but the bottom line is movies like Cry Macho should not have been made. I can say the same thing about Honky Tonk Man or Pink Cadillac as well which were bombs in a different era. It really remains to be seen where and what Eastwood does in his remaining years. The truth is most of his movies since Gran Torino have not done well financially and its hurts to say that, but that's the reality......
« Last Edit: June 01, 2022, 03:13:25 PM by Perry » Logged
Christopher
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« Reply #16 on: June 01, 2022, 08:40:02 PM »

Honkytonk Man is a really good movie, and I would have to look up if it actually lost money. It most likely had a pretty small budget, and even if it didn't make its money back at the theater, again, there's TV rights and home releases.

I remember reading years ago about some movies Eastwood was making around that time period that basically made their money back from TV rights alone. I don't specifically recall what movie and I can't verify that it's accurate, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is true.
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AKA23
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« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2022, 06:34:59 AM »



               If your running a business and invest and nada comes back it is what it is. You can bring up the fact the movie industry is crap today and the movies being made are as well, but the bottom line is movies like Cry Macho should not have been made. I can say the same thing about Honky Tonk Man or Pink Cadillac as well which were bombs in a different era. It really remains to be seen where and what Eastwood does in his remaining years. The truth is most of his movies since Gran Torino have not done well financially and its hurts to say that, but that's the reality......

I agree with Christopher. I like "Honkytonk Man," but as it's an atypical role and picture for Eastwood, and is fairly slow and downbeat, I understand why others may not enjoy it.

Perry, as director, Eastwood has made 10 films since Gran Torino: Invictus, Hereafter, J.Edgar, Jersey Boys, American Sniper, 15:17 to Paris, Sully, The Mule, Richard Jewell, and Cry Macho. Of these, Invictus and Hereafter (surprisingly) made over 100 million at the worldwide box office each, Sully made 240 million worldwide, The Mule made over 100 million in the US and something like 175 million worldwide, and of course American Sniper made something like over 500 million worldwide and is one of the most financially successful R rated movies of all time. This does not account for DVD and streaming sales, as Christopher points out, which may be tens of millions more for each movie, although I haven't researched that. Taking what all of these movies made together, relative to what was spent to produce them, Warners came out way ahead. 

You are correct that J.Edgar, Jersey Boys, 15:17 to Paris, Richard Jewell, and Cry Macho were not financially successful, but I think of this list, many happened to be his worst movies made during that time frame, and as Cry Macho was simultaneously released on HBO Max during a pandemic, we don't really know how that movie would have done in normal circumstances. I agree with you, probably not fabulously well, but we really don't know. If I were Warners, I would perhaps encourage Clint to not make any more true life story movies, since those movies often didn't do well, and in many cases, like in the case of Richard Jewell, the audience desire to watch a film centered around that wasn't really there. 
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Perry
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« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2022, 02:26:30 PM »


AKA23.......I never said HonkyTonk Man was a bad movie. It's not a personal favorite of mine. My point is the movie was not going to be a box office seller like the usual Eastwood movies even at that time. It wasn't. The budget was 2 mill and it grossed 4.4 mill..Ok..maybe it broke even... Cry Macho was a 30 mill budget and was dismal at the box office. I watched Cry Macho a few months baack.... It was o.k. Nothing special..., but the movie was not going anywhere and what audience would go see it???.The die hards?... Sure...that's about it. .  The point I'm trying to make is Eastwood's movies just don't fit into the agenda today and that's sad. You know this better than I... It's not even about his directing or visual style or etc.. It's not a question if his movies are good anymore. I'm still trying to understand why he did that ridiculous 15 minutes to Paris movie....  Personally, I can't see myself going to any movies in general anymore cause I have no interest in the stupid movies that are made today. Like I said before, I hope Eastwood does a few more movies that movie studios will back him with. If I was head of WB I wouldn't had made Cry Macho in 2021 or 1978......
« Last Edit: June 02, 2022, 02:33:02 PM by Perry » Logged
Perry
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« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2022, 02:44:12 PM »



One last thing,....You look at the movie The Irishman by Scorsese and all the hype and etc and most people including myself thought it was the biggest piece of crap and bore fest of a movie- but it still got nominated for things. It's all politics. .......
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