Pondering the Enthralling & Stuff Dreams are Made of…

With awards season heating up (Golden Globes slated for 7 January), the time seemed right to post this ponderable where TC provides insight and context on one particular nominee. Enjoy! – the editor

I have had a love/hate relationship with Warner Bros. Let me explain.

First, the love part…

Growing up, our TV was always on Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, and the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Showon Saturday mornings. We were obsessed! We recited dialogue from the classics…

We’re part of the chorus.
We hope you like the show.
We know you’re rooting for us.
But now we have to go…

Right? Oh, and my editor used to doodle the Gremlin on everything (everywhere). Also, we looked to her as the Road Runner and in later years, she was the Dot of our Animaniacs.

Little did we know, all these “Tunes” lifted all their sharpness from the studios Warner (though in retrospect — that pretty much was the running theme of Steven Speilberg’s Animaniacs).

Penguins are practically chickens…

We learned that “penguins are practically chickens” and got introduced to Humphrey Bogart when he asked Bugs Bunny for help:

Pardon me, but you can help a fellow American who is down on his luck?

Bette Davis, James Cagney… Yup it was Bugs.

Later in life, some friends introduced me to Mildred Pierce, Gypsy, Elsa and Rick, Blanche and Baby Jane Hudson. Turner Classic Movies and TNT introduced me to the pre-1948 Warner Bros film Library.

A Library United…

A merger with Time Warner reunited the whole library. Last year (2023 was) the 100th anniversary of the studio.

[See TC’s post from June: Pondering the MAX Effect…]

I wished I could have enjoyed it more.

Now the hate part…

I was let go from Warner Bros 22 years ago when the WB’s Studio Stores were shut down (after the AOL Time Warner merger). Later on, I worked for Discovery Channel Store for just under a year. This time, a victim of the end of entertainment retail in the 2000’s, and the arrival of Discovery’s new CEO David Zaslov who had no need for my division.

Both were very good jobs and our crews were very successful. However the industry changed, and with competition from Amazon, Walmart, and Target, we became obsolete. Licensing was so much more profitable (and definitely more cost effective than carrying a retail payroll).

Now the connection part…

Zaslov became the CEO of the new Warner Bros. Discovery, a combination of the two media companies. Zaslov moved into Jack Warner’s old office on the Warners Studio Lot. He arrived after a corporate decision to release the entire 2021 movie slate on both HBO Max and in theaters, during the COVID crisis. Talent and studio lost money. A good will gesture had repercussions.

So… Why do I think Warner Bros is going to end the year as the number one studio at the box office, and during the year end award season?

It started with a Toy, and a film lover and film maker…

During my rehabilitation this summer, I missed “Barbenheimer” when the Warner Bros film “Barbie the Movie” opened opposite Universal’s Oppenheimer, directed by former mainstay director Christopher Nolan.

Two very different films. Two different audiences. Or were they??

We expected Oppenheimer to be one of the best films of the year. It made a ton of money for a 3-hour film.

However, you heard it from here.

I see Barbie winning Best Picture.

I see Barbie winning Best Picture.

I finally screened Barbie during its streaming debut on Max this month. It is so much better than it should be. If Greta Gerwig removed Barbie’s name and made it with a generic Barbie knockoff toy it would be a good film, but not great.

This film has become the highest grossing film in the history of Warner Bros. I believe people came to expect one movie, and they got something original, clever, thought provoking, sad yet ultimately enthralling.

And There’s More…

With the release, came the most effective and clever marketing campaign I’ve seen in like… forever. Timing worked out since the film opened just before the SAG strike — so the movie’s stars were able to actively participate in promotional activities.

And this, for sure, is director Greta Gerwig’s film (not some by committee studio production–ed)

Amazingly the marketing tag line was true:‘She can do everything. He’s just Ken’

I had the same feeling of this film as I did when I finally saw Everything Everywhere All At Once.

That’s a Wrap…

IMHO… If you like Barbie, you will love it. If you hate Barbie, you will love it. Please check it out (on Max. Now, also being presented in American Sign Language. A first).

Thanks for reading! (and pondering with me)! -TC

Bonus Clips…

Greta Gerwig 60-min interview:
Directing “Barbie” was a dream job for Greta Gerwig, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind “Little Women” and “Lady Bird.” Now she’s putting her own stamp on two “Chronicles of Narnia” movies.


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