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CinemaCon 2015: Warner Bros. chief touts diverse slate

CinemaCon 2015: Warner Bros. chief touts diverse slate

Male strippers, Lego superheroes, and cold-blooded gangsters were among the diverse cast of characters Warner Bros. unveiled to an enthusiastic crowd of exhibitors gathered in Las Vegas.

"I’m proud of the fact that we have the biggest, most diverse slate in the industry,"  Warner Bros. Entertainment Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara said during a presentation at the fifth-annual CinemaCon gathering.

"I defy anyone to name another studio that’s bringing you a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, Double XL male strippers, the Griswold family, a man from U.N.C.L.E., Whitey Bulger, an Entourage and not one Max but two: one Mad and the other a German Shepherd,"  Tsujihara quipped.

At a time when other studios such as Paramount Pictures have scaled back the number of movies it releases, Warner Bros. is ramping up production with a mix of comedies, dramas, action-adventures and horror films.

Tsujihara presented that as a validation of the theatrical business, which continues to grow globally despite rising competition from Netflix and other entertainment options in the home.

"Despite the constant introduction of new technologies and platforms, people still want to go to the movies," Tsujihara said Tuesday. "They still want the unique experience that you can only get at a movie theater. That’s why we have made a strategic decision to continue making more movies at a time when other companies are making less."

Warner Bros. is coming off a record-breaking first quarter driven by the unexpected success of "American Sniper," the drama directed by Clint Eastwood, who is being honored Wednesday at CinemaCon for his contributions to cinema.

In the coming months, the studio hopes to get a box-office lift from "Mad Max: Fury Road," the fourth film from director George Miller; the disaster film "San Andreas" and a reboot of the Chevy Chase comedy "Vacation," the R-rated comedy starring Ed Helms and Christina Applegate, who joined a roster of stars at the presentation in Caesars Palace.

The studio will release three more Lego movies through 2018 in response to last year's surprise hit, "The Lego Movie," and at least 10 films from its DC Comics franchise through 2020, including "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" in March and "Suicide Squad" in August.

Also in the pipeline are "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," a trilogy of films from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

None of the franchise movies will be released this year, however, when Warner will face stiff competition from rival studios, principally Disney and Universal. The industry is expected to enjoy a record level of ticket sales domestically and globally this year, driven by such franchises as "Star Wars," "Avengers," "Minions," "Jurassic Park," "Mission: Impossible" and the latest James Bond film "Spectre."

Facing a crowded summer of anticipated blockbusters, Warner this week announced it would move its live-action Peter Pan film to the fall to give it more "breathing room" and a longer theatrical run.

Tsujihara stressed that while tent poles and franchises are important, the studio is focusing on a broad mix of movies across multiple genres.

"These films allow us to reach broad and underserved audiences," he said.

Twitter: @rverrier

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