It would be an understatement to say that Warner Bros. has had an interesting couple of years at the movies. The studio has carved out its superhero niche with hits like Wonder Woman, while also dominating the horror landscape with films like IT and the entire Conjuring universe. However, above Warner Bros. there exists a certain degree of uncertainty, as the potential failure of parent company Time Warner's merger with AT&T could lead to the sale of the studio.
The whole thing started in 2016 when AT&T announced plans to buy Time Warner for an astonishing $85 billion. However, the size, scope, and scale of the deal drew the scrutiny of the Department of Justice, which subsequently led to an antitrust case filed in November in an attempt to block the merger. Now, if the merger doesn't go through, then it could lead to entities like Warner Bros. and HBO breaking up and selling, per a report from from The Wrap.
It is worth mentioning that laying out this situation does not explicitly specify what will happen to some of the various Warner Bros. assets (mainly the DC Comics properties in the DCEU) if Time Warner breaks up. That said, given WB's long history with DC properties, and complicated rights deals, it doesn't seem unreasonable to assume that the studio will continue to retain the rights and keep its development of films like Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman 2 and Chris McKay's Nightwing. At this point, it is really just a matter of waiting to see what will happen when all is said and done.
The possibility of this merger not going through comes on the heels of a variety of other major behind-the-scenes changes at Warner Bros. Specifically in the DC side of things, the studio recently went through a massive restructuring of its DC Films unit with the promotion of Walter Hamada and a concerted effort to work on streamlining the DCEU development process.
This AT&T and Time Warner merger is not the first significant media consolidation to draw the attention of the United States government. It has only been a few months since the substantial Disney-Fox deal occurred, and that will have to go through a similar regulatory process before both parties can finalize it. This process is relatively standard practice in the government's efforts to prevent the creation of monopolies, and it will be interesting to see how it affects the entertainment landscape as we learn more about the AT&T/Time Warner situation.
Only time will tell if this behemoth merger will ultimately go through and secure the future of Warner Bros. If it does not, then we will bring you more information related to it as new details are made available to us. For now, you can check out the latest Warner Bros. offering in the DC world when James Wan's Aquaman premieres in theaters later this year on December 21.