Name Warner Bros.’s Biggest Challenge: Is It Ezra Miller or $50 Billion in Debt?

If you have been on twitter in the last ten days and have an algorithm similar to mine, you probably sdaw that Ezra Miller was “trending.” I clicked on the story that reported the troubled movie star’s latest bad news with the headline, ‘The Flash’ Star Ezra Miller Pleads Not Guilty To Vermont Felony Burglary Charges, Faces Possible Sentence Of Up To 26 Years Behind Bars. I think it extremely unlikely that Miller will serve any jail time for his latest outrage, though the evidence against the guy supposedly features film of his committing this crime. Murderers in the United States are not always sentenced to a quarter century and I have a hard time thinking that home invasion to steal three bottles of booze, no one threatened, injured, or killed, will mean hard time for the ‘Credence Barebones’ actor.

What I found interesting in the article beneath the sensationalist banner was the news that Miller’s problems represent a special challenge to Warner Bros. -Discovery, the makers of ‘DC Universe’ and Newt Scamander films, because he plays both ‘Aurelius Dumbledore’ in the Fantastic Beasts franchise and the Flash in the comic book adaptations. While some believe he’s been written out of his Barebones role post Secret of Dumbledore, ‘The Flash’ is in post-production and will someday soon be scheduled for release.

Or will it? If the star of the show is on trial, in therapy while on probation, or otherwise unavailable for promotion, will this Warner Bros. property be jettisoned the way the ‘Batgirl’ feature was?

I have no idea, and, sadly, could care less, if I join everyone in wishing Ezra Miller a complete recovery from his admitted mental health challenges and a fair trial for the various crimes with which he has been charged. What interests me was this aside about Warner Bros.-Discovery in the article detailing Miller’s most recent entanglement with law enforcement:

Meanwhile, despite the actor’s ongoing super villain-esque crime spree, Warner Bros. Discovery is still banking on Miller and The Flash to help chip away a significant amount of its staggering roughly $50 billion debt.

That sum surprised me, but it checks out. You can read here and here about how the merger of Warner Media, having been spun off from AT&T, with Discovery resulted in that nearly incomprehensible debt load and why it has caused the value of their stock to plummet while the company cuts cost in moves described routinely as a “bloodbath.” Investors think this debt load is high — Netflix and Disney also have billions in loans, but only half of Warner Bros.’ — but manageable and think the stock is currently undervalued, even a “good buy.” Go figure.

The only reason this interests me is, of course, that Warner Bros. holds the rights to the Wizarding World franchise:

Heyman’s enthusiasm led to Rowling’s 1999 sale of the film rights for the first four Harry Potter books to Warner Bros. for a reported £1 million (US$2,000,000). A demand Rowling made was that the principal cast be kept strictly British, allowing nevertheless for the inclusion of many Irish actors, such as Richard Harris as Dumbledore, and for casting of French and Eastern European actors in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where characters from the book are specified as such. Rowling was hesitant to sell the rights because she “didn’t want to give them control over the rest of the story” by selling the rights to the characters, which would have enabled Warner Bros. to make non-author-written sequels.

Rowling’s agent is Neil Blair, a lawyer who was Warner Bros.’ Head of Business Affairs in Europe before joining Rowling, Inc., as chief negotiator with his old company. The Wizarding World film franchise, despite the cursed property that Fantastic Beasts seems to be, is the jewel in Warner Bros’ dragon horde of properties, with the eight Potter films alone having grossed almost $8 billion. The very profitable relationship between author and film-maker (game designer, properties owner, etc.) seems to be one “forever and ever, Amen.”

But, c’mon, $53 billion in debt? And the Potter properties having lost much of their value because of the Beasts controversies, Miller’s troubles being only a little bit of the ‘bad news,’ and the Radical Gender Extremists’ assault on Rowling? If Warner Bros. is cancelling a film they’d poured $90 million into as well as CNN+, isn’t there the smallest possibility that they’d be willing to dump their rights, especially if Rowling formed a consortium to buy them back?

Yes, that’s risibly naive, even a stupid idea. I confess that it occurred to me is the dread I have that anyone other than Bronte Studios will make the inevitable adaptation of the Harry Potter novels for teevee. Having lived through the Hogwarts Saga’s representation on the Big Screen and marveled at Heyman and Yates’ “fitting the women to the dress” in those films and the Beasts movies, I fully expect a comparable butchering of the seven book series for the Glass Tit.

Silly, I know. How much do you think Warner Bros. would ask for the Wizarding World rights? Would Blair and the barracuda barristers at Rowling, Inc., be able to convince OPEC to float them a loan for that much? Imagine the CGI techs Bronte Studios would have to hire to pull off the mini-blockbusters every Potter teevee episode would require…

I wonder how close to bankruptcy Warner Bros. would have to be to auction off those rights. A lot closer than the troubles of Ezra Miller will ever bring them!


  1. Can someone please explain to me what “Glass Tit” means? Google turns up nothing.

  2. It’s a phrase to describe the relation of viewers and their televisions. See Mander’s Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television; the “glass” part dates from a time when teevee screens were large glass tubes.

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