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Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara talks studio's future, new 'Harry Potter' franchise

By Daniel S Levine,

While the big news of the New York Times profile on Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara is that the studio will be creating a new Harry Potter trilogy, it was filled with interesting nuggets about the studio and its future.

The profilemade note of Tsujihara’s quick rise in Hollywood, as the 49-year-old leads one of the biggest studio’s in the business. He has a positive outlook on the businesses future, while his rivals may be cutting back on big-budget films. “Warner Bros. should be setting the course, making the hard decisions,” he told the Times. “In a very difficult operating environment there are clearly opportunities.”

Warner Bros. has several blockbusters in waiting, including this year’s Godzilla and 2016’s follow-up to Man of Steel. The studio is also building a media empire, as it has a whopping 63 TV programs in production. That includes CBS hits like The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men.

Time Warner chief Jeffrey L. Bewkes, Tsujihara’s superior, had nothing but praise for him. “Kevin is exceeding my already very high expectations,” he said, prising Tsujihara’s diplomatic skills. That served him well in 2010, when he helped negotiate the deal between Peter Jackson, MGM and Warner to get The Hobbit made. Then, there’s the result of a new partnership with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

The author seemed ready to give up Harry Potter, but Tsujihara convinced her to go back for the Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them trilogy. It will be based on a Hogwarts “text book” she wrote over a decade ago. The films will not be standard prequels to the Harry Potter story, but just stories that happen in the same wizarding universe.

“When I say [Tsujihara] made Fantastic Beasts happen, it isn’t P.R.-speak but the literal truth,” Rowling told the Times. “We had one dinner, a follow-up telephone call, and then I got out the rough draft that I’d thought was going to be an interesting bit of memorabilia for my kids and started rewriting!”

Oddly enough, Tsujihara admitted that the studio has one weakness: reality television. He recently hired former Fox executive Mike Darnell, who is credited with bringing American Idol to Fox, to help in that area.

 
 

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