Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of Time Warner Entertainment.
I grew up watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons on the USA Cartoon Express every evening and waking up early to watch them every Saturday morning. I’ve been a Superman and DC Comics fan since I was a little kid watching Superfriends and reruns of the 60s Batman series and the 70s Wonder Woman series every week. I got used to Turner Time on Superstation WTBS every afternoon and watched the USA Cartoon Express, which was filled with old-school Hanna-Barbera shows, every evening and Sunday morning. The animated creations of Termite Terrace, MGM, Fleischer, and Hanna-Barbera are ingrained in my DNA, and my modern tastes for animation grew because of the 90s revival of Warner Bros Animation, the brief rebirth of Hanna-Barbera, and the emergence of Cartoon Network.
That shield has brought a lot of good things to me over the years. Like I said, I’m a fan. Been a fan for as long as I can remember. Warner Bros, DC Comics, and Turner pretty much molded me into the person that I am. Heck, I’ve befriended folks who work in the various units of the company.
I’m a Time Warner fan.
That said, when I see them do things I feel are stupid, misguided, and downright moronic, I point it out. I don’t say that everything they do is perfect and they can do no wrong like so many other folks do with companies they like. That’s blind devotion. I’m a fan and I want them to do great things because throughout the years, they HAVE done great things. They have the capacity to do more, but they need to be guided from the wrong path. That’s why I “pick” on Time Warner more than other companies.
That disclosure out of the way, let me begin with a heartfelt plea from a fan to a company that I like:
I want to see you all do great things again but you guys are looking complacent and lazy as hell.
What happened to you, Time Warner? You used to be leaders, innovators, pioneers in entertainment. You own the largest library of films, animated productions, television programs, and intellectual properties, Your biggest competitor, Disney, is constantly making you look like also-rans each and every week. While people were berating Cartoon Network for scrapping DC Nation from the lineup two weeks after it’s fall return for another three-month hiatus, Disney XD’s Marvel Universe remains the more stable of the two comic-based animation showcases and had consistently showed new episodes each and every week for most of the year, which DC Nation HASN’T done. You got mocked for thinking small about a potential Justice League film, which is only a blip within the shadow of Disney’s Marvel films, especially The Avengers. Also, Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm made Disney’s boys division that much stronger. Recently, Disney announced plans to utilize all of their boy-oriented divisions to create what appears to be a prime-time block event, Disney Fandom. It may be a three-night event initially, but if successful, it could transform Disney XD into a stronger brand domestically.
All of your woes shouldn’t be blamed on Disney. A whole lot of your problems are of your own doing. Your movies are performing adequately, but to lower box office numbers than you expected, and now you’re betting it all on The Hobbit franchise, especially now that Legendary, the production company responsible for your non-Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings hits of the past decade, is going to NBC Universal. The fact that you didn’t even try to acquire distribution rights to the Dreamworks Animation film library considering the animated film division of Warner Bros. is, outside of direct-to-DVD films, pretty much dead, is depressing (honestly, Time Warner should have made a serious push to buy DWA outright, library and all). And you couldn’t even close the deal to buy international player Endemol. And speaking of libraries, are you aware by 2020, your entire stable of animated characters will be as unknown to a newer generation of audiences the way that Baby Huey, Honey Halfwitch, Felix the Cat, Heckle and Jeckle, and many countless franchises are to most audiences? I never imagined I’d be living in a day and age where Gilligan’s Island isn’t on television anywhere in the US.
Globally, you’re expanding and evolving. The Asian marketplace recently launched a Toonami network across several countries, and all evidence is showing that it’s a stronger launch than the UK launch more than a decade ago. You’ve successfully made the Turner brands legitimate players on a global scale expanding Cartoon Network, which they haven’t done stateside since April 1, 2000 (guess which Cartoon Network spinoff launched on that date? Hint: it’s the one that doesn’t take over Cartoon Network’s channel space at 9PM E/P). It’s not they can’t, but rather you won’t.
The sad fact is that there’s no real direction, no sign of growth, nothing to really look forward to at Time Warner. There’s no communication between the units, no significant synergistic activity, no expansion, and no growth. It’s just a bunch of random units disconnected and flailing their arms wondering why they’re third in news, children’s entertainment, and now motion pictures.
To quote Archie Bunker, you, Time Warner, are a meathead. Dead from the neck up. Your company has created a culture where complacency is the new normal and that the one thing that would make your company strong, inter-connectivity, is not only frowned upon but also avoided at all cost. The disconnect between the producers of the shows of DC Nation and powers-that-be at Cartoon Network was probably the last straw for many observers of what’s going.on there. And no, putting the company’s chief financial officer in charge of your strongest division isn’t really thinking outside the box.
Something’s got to give there, and there needs to be some change. Some new blood at the top, changes within the paradigm of the corporate structure, and some actual growth or expansion on American soil either through getting off your butts and doing something new or buying a company that you don’t have.
I don’t have the ear of a board member, but I’m a fan, a consumer, someone who actually appreciates the products that comes out of the company without being a corporate stooge or a hard-working creator/producer creating the things that make you money. Fans don’t really have much say of what happens at Time Warner, but if the company actually knew we existed, they wouldn’t be so devoted to doing things contrary to their mission.
I’m just tired of Time Warner becoming a bloated, complacent, lazy conglomerate.