Warner Bros. Discovery has cautioned that the uncertainty caused by the dueling strikes by Hollywood writers and actors may have an impact on the timing of its film slate as well as its capacity to produce and distribute content.

The studio announced on Thursday that it expects members of the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) to return to work in early September, which sources say is optimistic considering the heated tone of the picket lines.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” CEO David Zaslav told investors, adding, “We’ve got to fight together to get this resolved.”

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Strikes have hampered the production of scripted shows for the fall TV season and delayed work on films as workers fight for more compensation in the streaming era. SAG performers are barred from promoting upcoming projects, potentially jeopardizing the schedule of fall releases. On Thursday, Hasbro announced a strike-related blow.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Warner Bros. Discovery and the other big studios in discussions, has requested a meeting with the writers’ guild on Friday to examine the potential of resuming negotiations. Since May 2, the authors have been on strike.

Meanwhile, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher spoke on Thursday at picket lines in New York to support guild members who went on strike on July 14.

“I promise you that we are not going to compromise,” she stated outside the offices of Paramount Global near Times Square, as captured by Variety. This is a watershed moment, and there is no turning back.”

The income of Warner Bros Discovery fell in the second quarter due to weak movie office performances, particularly the underperformance of the DC Comics-inspired feature The Flash. According to Visible Alpha, studio revenue was $2.58 billion, well below projections of $3.21 billion.

The business also incurred marketing expenses for its Barbie film, which was a box office smash in July.

“Although the company is riding a pink wave of success thanks to Barbie’s theatrical run, other features and the dramas Warner Bros Discovery is known for are on hold until negotiations resume,” Third Bridge analyst Jamie Lumley said.

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According to Refinitiv statistics, second-quarter revenue came in at $10.36 billion, missing projections of $10.44 billion.

The direct-to-consumer unit earned $2.73 billion, exceeding expectations of $2.48 billion. It lost 1.8 million customers, exceeding Visible Alpha’s prediction of 1.1 million.

At the conclusion of the quarter, the company had 95.8 million global customers to its HBO, Max, and Discovery+ services.

Under Zaslav’s leadership, Warner Bros Discovery has been working to improve the efficiency of its direct-to-consumer operation. According to the CEO, the streaming business is “tracking well ahead of our financial projections” and will generate positive core earnings in the first half of 2023.

On a post-earnings discussion, firm leaders expressed confidence that the company will achieve $4 billion in total synergies far sooner than previously anticipated.

They believe there is a “clear path” for the corporation to achieve $5 billion or more in total synergies by 2024 and beyond.

The corporation decreased spending by 16% in the quarter, lowering its net loss to $1.24 billion from $3.42 billion the previous year.

In the three months ending June, free cash flow was $1.72 billion, above projections of $987 million. The company anticipates full-year free cash flow in the $4.5 billion to $5 billion range.


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