Warner Bros. Layoffs
I tend not to get too invested in film business news. I pay attention, because it potentially affects me, but I figure things change and there’s no sense wasting energy complaining.
What’s happening to Warner Bros...well, it’s just sad. The latest is that they are shuttering a very influential and meaningful writer’s workshop that has given many people great careers.
I don’t know the full story of how we got here in a corporate sense. I guess I could look it up, but I don’t trust myself to explain it with 100% accuracy. The short version is that when the studio was recently acquired by Discovery, the deal resulted in a ton of debt, and now the new owners are hacking away their overhead to try to deal with that debt. So they basically let go the people who know how to do things...and they can’t do anything but focus on the big-ticket film and TV productions that make tons of money.
When I was in the heyday of the FSM CD releases, Warner Bros. probably supplied 80% of our titles. And it was great! The music department was great, the executives were great, the archivists were great—and it went on for years.
There were always people complaining that things weren’t how they used to be, but the studio had “institutional knowledge”—people who had been there for ages and knew how things worked, and “where the bodies were buried.”
I don’t want to chronicle how we got from there to here, but at the moment, the studio is so hollowed out, there’s just no way they can research titles for music licensing. So that’s why so many of those great old unreleased scores aren’t coming out on CD. And, in fact, why even the CDs that were already released, not only by FSM but other labels, aren’t being distributed digitally.
It’s not just music, though—so many thousands of movies are no longer available, on streaming or any home video format. You have to go find an ancient DVD or VHS tape.
I hope they can turn it around and get back to curating their film and television catalog. They’d make a lot of money!