Is The 'Entourage' Movie Just What Warner Brothers Needs In 2015?

| About: Time Warner (TWX)
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Summary

Warner Brothers' summer slate this year was not as successful as in years past as a number of high-profile tentpoles underperformed.

Next summer, Warner Brothers is bringing HBO series 'Entourage' to the big screen and initial reaction to its first teaser trailer is very positive.

Sister companies HBO and Warner Brothers previously collaborated, bringing 'Sex & The City' to the big screen, which saw mixed results overall.

2014 is almost over and for Warner Brothers (a subsidiary of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)) the studio probably couldn't be happier.

Aside from The Lego Movie, Godzilla and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the studio didn't have a lot of luck this year (especially domestically). To be fair, a number of those movies were never intended to be massive hits and did end up recouping budgets, but none broke out the way executives hoped. Entourage has that potential.

The thing investors in the studio need to remember about Entourage is that it never took itself that seriously. It was a satire of Hollywood politics and a number of times those being made fun of didn't even get that they were the joke. That's Hollywood.

Yet HBO always got the last laugh as every summer for eight years (sans one odd fall run), this was a guarantee on its schedule and a constant at the Emmy Awards, even netting three statues for star Jeremy Piven.

The series needed little hype and little spin because it had become a summer staple, thanks to its over-the-top cast of characters and phrases like "Let's Hug It Out." It also became a hotbed for celebrities eager to get in on the joke. The movie, due out next summer, won't be any different.

This week, just days before Christmas, Warner Brothers dropped the film's first trailer into our stockings and it's proving to be an enjoyable gift. The 2-and-a-half minute teaser reminded audiences exactly what they liked about the show… but will that translate to a hit?

Investor Analysis

Theoretically, every movie has potential. After all you'd think a proven formula like pairing Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in a romantic comedy would work right? Or the film adaptation of one of Broadway's biggest hits ever would sweep award season? Or Tom Cruise could still attract a summer crowd? Yet as Blended, Jersey Boys and Edge of Tomorrow proved… nothing is guaranteed.

Next summer, Warner Brothers has a slate that includes a reboot of actioner Mad Max, disaster pic San Andreas and soft-core sequel Magic Mike XXL. Snuggled into that mix as well is the Entourage movie, which comes at the tail end of an ambitious five-week period where the studio will unspool five films over four weekends. The film is almost right in the middle of Warner's full season roster and will be a sort of palette cleanser meant to help lure those tired of big budgets and big explosions.

HBO has been down this road before with Sex & The City, a show just as critically acclaimed and just as popular. Working with sister company Warner Brothers, the two mapped out a big screen return for Sarah Jessica Parker and friends that opened to nearly $57 million (ironically, as much as it cost to produce) and ended up earning $415 million worldwide.

The problem was that when the sequel came out two years later, it effectively killed the entire franchise. It was a truly remarkable fail and one that had to be a concern for the studio leading into Entourage talks, especially after the cast nearly derailed the film in the first place with salary demands.

Of course, the guys and the studio did "hug it out" and the Entourage movie got made. And based on the trailer, it looks exactly like what we've come to expect from the series. Sex & The City eventually floundered because it strove too far from what made it work and audiences rebelled. With Entourage that shouldn't be a problem.

What Time Warner has here is a great opportunity to take one of its most profitable properties in HBO and use it to help one of its struggling subsidiaries in Warner Brothers. With that said, the film could be exactly what the studio needs in that it is a safe, recognizable brand that has a following across both genders. And after the summer Warner has had, safe is smart.

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