It's official: U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon has ruled that AT&T's merger of Time Warner is approved. There are no conditions of the deal, meaning that the $85.4 billion merger is moving forward, despite protests from the government and a lawsuit from the Justice Department attempting to block the merger. That means that all of the franchises owned by Warner Bros., which is part of Time Warner, now have a new home. So what franchises did AT&T just get for their money? We're here to break it down for you.
Warner Bros. owns (or owned) all of DC Entertainment. That means AT&T is ultimately in control of the future of the franchise. The DC universe, on the big screen, has been something of a mess and the disappointment of Justice League has resulted in major changes behind the scenes. This merger will no doubt further shake-up the DCEU. Will that be for better or for worse? Only time will tell. Maybe they will greenlight a couple more Joker movies? Or maybe they'll finally make Man of Steel 2 happen? Hey! Maybe they will finally, actually make a solo Batman movie. Who knows at this point, but this is a truly massive asset.
While the DC universe represents a great deal of potential, it's J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World that has the most proven potential in Warner Bros.' library of franchises. The Harry Potter movies have made nearly $8 billion at the box office, and that's not counting Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which has a sequel coming out this year. The plan is for five movies with that franchise and who knows what more beyond. This is the definition of a cash cow and it represents easily one of the most loyal fanbases in the world.
Surprisingly, The LEGO Movie proved that the popular toy is worthy of a big screen franchise. The LEGO Batman Movie and the upcoming LEGO Movie 2 are further evidence that there is plenty to explore with this one. LEGO has endured for decades and AT&T could make good use of this particular franchise, depending on how they play it.
This is, in a literal sense, the big one. Toho still controls the Japanese Godzilla, but Warner Bros. is in control of the big guy stateside and they're making use of him in the MonsterVerse. Kong: Skull Island continued things last year and Godzilla 2, which will bring in Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah, will keep the ball rolling in a big way. This is leading to Godzilla vs. Kong and, beyond that, who knows? Godzilla is one of history's most enduring franchises and one that carries with it nearly endless potential.
At the moment, the legendary sci-fi franchise that changed the game in 1999 lies dormant. However, there have been talks of a reboot/sequel/prequel or something of the like during the course of the past year. The Matrix is another marquee franchise and, if nothing else, it's a title that looks good in the library.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe may be the biggest name in the game, but The Conjuring is no slouch. The movies have made a combined $1.2 billion at the box office and with The Nun, Annabelle 3, The Crooked Man and The Conjuring 3 in the pipeline, this is a truly promising franchise AT&T just spent a chunk of that money on. This could be putting meat in seats at the theater for a long time to come.
The Rocky franchise is an enduring one and one that is far from done. Creed 2 just wrapped filming and is set to arrive in theaters later this year. This is something a new media conglomerate, such as the one AT&T has just become, can do a lot with, if they have the right creative minds in charge.
The Sherlock Holmes franchise goes far beyond the Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law movies. While Sherlock Holmes 3 is finally, officially happening and could be a big hit at the box office, there is a lot more to it than that. For instance, there is the Will Ferrell and John C Reilly comedic take Holmes and Watson arriving later this year. This is the kind of thing that can be reinvented every handful of years for a new generation.
Mad Max: Fury Road may well go down as one of the best reboots ever and one of the best sci-fi movies of the decade, if not of all time. That left many hoping the franchise would continue, but a lawsuit from director George Miller has prevented a sequel from taking place. Still, AT&T has purchased the franchise and any of the problems and potential benefits that come along with it. Here's hoping they can find a way to sort things out.
In fairness, this may not be much of a franchise anymore. Pacific Rim: Uprising was something of a bomb at the box office. But hey, they can still make comic books, toys and maybe an animated series, or something of the like. Or maybe, against all odds, Pacific Rim 3 will still happen. Either way, this is part of the deal.
Ocean's 8 just arrived in theaters over the weekend and did quite well. That means the Ocean's franchise is alive and very well. It seems inevitable now that Ocean's 9 will get the greenlight and will continue to bring in the cash over the coming years. This, to go with Steven Soderbergh's trilogy, starting with Ocean's Eleven, that brought in more than $1 billion at the global box office. Much like the heists depicted in the movies, there is a lot of money at play here.
Admittedly, Warner Bros. hasn't done much on the big screen with Scooby-Doo since the pair of live-action movies that were written by Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. Still, this is a legacy franchise that can span multiple platforms and formats. Animated shows, live-action movies, comic books, it's all on the table. This is a good get for any studio.
Could this merger between AT&T and Time Warner be the thing that finally makes Gremlins 3 happen? There have been various attempts over the years and star Zach Galligan has been lobbying hard as of late. Be it a reboot, sequel or something in between, Gremlins 3 is sitting and waiting, assuming some of the new folks at AT&T want to find a way to make this happen. If not, there is still plenty of Blu-ray box sets of Gremlins and Gremlins 2 to sell fans around the holidays.
Assuming Riggs and Murtaugh aren't actually too old for this s***, there has been real talk of Lethal Weapon 5 happening lately. Aside from hopes that Mel Gibson and Danny Glover will reunite for one last ride, there is also the Lethal Weapon TV series on Fox, which will be replacing Clayne Crawford with Sean William Scott during season 3. This is a franchise that may not be much on the big screen these days, but there's some gas in the tank to be sure.
Friday the 13th
This one is complicated, as New Line, a subsidiary of Warner Bros., has been in a dispute in regards to the Friday the 13th rights with Paramount for some time. However, it seems as though Warner Bros. is back in control. Unfortunately, there is also a legal battle going on with the original Friday the 13th writer that has complicated the franchise across the board. Depending on how and when that gets settled, this could be a major horror franchise and asset included in this merger. For now, Jason is in limbo, but that won't last forever.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Freddy Krueger is also a horror icon sitting in limbo right now, but Warner Bros. owns the rights to the Friday the 13th franchise and thus, AT&T, ultimately, will be in control of its future. There are reportedly plans still in place for another reboot from The Conjuring 2 writer David Leslie Johnson, who, last we heard, is still on board. In any case, this is one of the true marquee horror franchises and a big asset.
Last but not least, we get to IT. This may not technically be a franchise, but given that the first in a series of two movies adapting Stephen King's epic horror novel grossed $700 million at the box office last year, it's hard not to think that IT 2 will follow in those same footsteps. Further, it's hard not to view this as a franchise-like asset in the merger. Who knows if any more will be done with Pennywise and The Losers Club beyond IT: Chapter 2 next year, but there is lots of money with this here scary clown.
There are so many elements at play with a merger of this size and it's going to have long-lasting implications on the larger media landscape. Warner Bros. is a legendary studio and one with an amazing track record. So, while there are many elements to this whole thing that may be dizzying to consider all at once, the fate and future of these franchises is terribly important to moviegoers all around the world. The ball is in your court, AT&T.