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Much of the narrative following the release of Warner Bros' Justice League revolved around how the film fell short of expectations, financial and otherwise. After all, the film, which many hoped would be an Avengers-level success, failed to crack $100 million opening weekend. But things are rarely simple enough to be summed up in a headline, and collecting $656 million worldwide is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, thanks in part to Justice League, Warner Bros' parent company, Time Warner, beat its fourth quarter financial expectations.
Time Warner is made up of three divisions: Turner, HBO and Warner Bros. Time Warner's revenue grew 9% over the last year to $8.6 billion, and operating income increased 13% to $1.9 billion. According to Deadline, revenue at Warner Bros. increased to $4.05 billion in 2017 versus $3.87 billion from the year prior, reflecting a record-setting year for the studio driven in part by Justice League. Warner Bros was a huge part of Time Warner's success, but it wasn't alone. The media conglomerate also benefitted from continued growth at Turner and HBO during the fiscal quarter. Turner's revenue increased from $3.87 billion to $4.05 billion, while HBO saw a revenue increase from $1.49 billion to $1.68 billion.
These fourth quarter numbers come at a time when AT&T is currently attempting to acquire Time Warner. The Department of Justice is suing AT&T to block the merger with a trial date set for next month. While that all shakes out, Time Warner is continuing to show how valuable it is and the power of its various brands. HBO is still one of the most powerful names in television, while Warner Bros is showing that a diverse enough slate of blockbusters can insulate the company against failures and push the studio to record numbers. For every King Arthur: Legend of the Sword that fails, there is a Wonder Woman that makes up for it. While Justice League didn't have a $100 million opening weekend and didn't hit $1 billion at the box office, it still generated $656 million in revenue to add to the bottom line. Even though the overall box office was down in 2017, Warner Bros. still managed to perform well.
In the press release reporting the quarterly and year end numbers, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes noted that the company met all its performance targets and cited growing demand for creative and compelling content. With Game of Thrones ending soon and DC restructuring following Justice League, it will be interesting to see how these divisions adapt and try to continue delivering on the content people want to see. Warner Bros. has a lot of exciting films hitting theaters this year, including Tomb Raider, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and the DC universe film, Aquaman. To see when these films and more are hitting theaters, check out our release schedule.