AT&T getting into the movie biz with studio that’s much hotter than Universal was when Comcast bought it

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Although AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson conceded that he’s never run a movie studio before, chances are the acquisition of Warner Bros. Pictures, part of the company’s $85.4 billion bid to buy Time Warner, isn’t an afterthought. Certainly, in 2009, when Comcast first proposed buying NBCUniversal, there wasn’t a whole lot of attention paid to the cable company taking over a badly slumping Universal Pictures unit that had fallen to dead last among the major movie studios.

Indeed, seven years ago, Time Warner’s Warner Bros. Pictures unit controlled 19.7 percent of the North American box office. With its powerful Minions still a year away from hitting the global box office and turning the fortunes of the studio around, Universal controlled just 8.3 percent of the North American theatrical market in 2009. Jump forward to 2015, and Universal controlled the lion’s share of the global box office, bringing in more than $2.4 billion in North American theatrical revenue alone and generating intellectual property that sparked EBITDA for Comcast across not just cable video on demand, but in robust businesses like theme parks and consumer products.


AT&T getting into the movie biz with studio that’s much hotter than Universal was when Comcast bought it