David Zaslav

Source: Warner Bros Discovery

David Zaslav

In a rare CinemaCon address by the head of a big media company Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav took to the stage ahead of Tuesday’s Warner Bros presentation and told attendees, “We believe in full windowing of motion pictures.”

In a stirring address in whch he portrayed himself as a man of the people, Zaslav touched on his own childhood going to the cinema with his father in Brooklyn and characterised operators of Main Street cinemas as supporters of storytelling who were a cultural cornerstone of society.

He also introduced to the stage producer Oprah Winfrey in her CinemaCon debut, alongside Blitz Bazawule to cue up first footage of Bazawule’s upcoming magical realist musical version of The Color Purple (December 25), inspired by the Broadway musical and based on Steven Spielberg’s 1985 classic.

Zaslav also heaped praise on his executive team of international and domestic distribution heads Andrew Cripps and Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros film group co-heads Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy, and DC Studios co-heads James Gunn and Peter Safran,

“We believe in full windowing of the motion picture business,” Zaslav said. “We do not want to do direct-to-streaming. We’re in no rush to bring the movies to Max [which launches in the US on May 23].

“Max is a great service… but when we partner with you and bring the movies to the theatre and we promote them, then we promote them again and sell directly to consumer, we get another bump. When we bring movies to Max those movies perform substantially better than any direct-to-steaming movies.”

Addressing exhibitors at the Colosseum in Caesar’s Palace, the executive said he wanted to get to 20 theatrical releases a year and continued, “Working with you to get people back to theatres on Main street all over the word, there is a lot of challenge all over the world. Not only do we want to do this because it’s good business and we love motion pictures… We’ve got to rally right now. People need to escape, be entertained and inspired.”

On that note the businessman urged exhibitors to innovate and find ways to keep audiences coming back into their auditoriums.

On his childhood, Zaslav said: “For me it started as a kid in Brooklyn. My dad used to take me to the theatre every Saturday. One day the lights went out, which is the only way to see a movie, and the movie started and there was Sidney Poitier and it was To Sir With Love. Watching Sidney, he was inspired, he was magic, and when you watched that movie everything was possible. That’s how he felt, that’s how you felt leaving that theatre.

”Today we’re in a sad moment with the loss of Harry Belafonte,” he said, mentioning the friendly rivalry between Belafonte, who died on Tuesday aged 96, and Poitier, who died in 2022.

Referencing Warner Bros’ 100-year history he said, “We have big shoes to fill but we’re determined to do it.”