Ryan Reynolds Protests Turner Classic Movies Budget Cuts, But Can’t He Just, Like, Buy It?
Like most Hollywood emergencies of late, the newest cinema crisis originates from a decision made by Warner Bros. Discover CEO David Zaslav, who recently laid off a swath of executives at Turner Classic Movies, a 29-year-old premium cable channel dedicated to the examination and preservation of historic works of American moviemaking. Just months ago, Zaslav touted the cultural importance of the channel at the 14th TCM Classic Film Festival, telling the illustrious audience, “I watch Turner Classic Movies all the time. It’s the history of our country, the motion pictures.” However, Zaslav’s layoffs show a startling change of direction in his handling of the classic film channel, and they indicate that further “restructuring” may be in TCM’s future. Yesterday afternoon, an emergency summit of America’s top directors implored the power broker to preserve the channel’s programming for the good of all film.
In addition to the all-time great directors, Ryan Reynolds jumped at the chance to join the TCM Undead Pool, tweeting at Zaslav, “Please don’t fuck with @tcm.” If the controversial CEO sees the channel as a money sink, couldn’t Reynolds just Welcome to Wrexham the whole thing? Rob McElhenney must like movies, too.
Back in March, Reynolds and the rest of his co-investors sold their stakes in Mint Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator, to T-Mobile, netting the Free Guy star an estimated $350 million. Between his bankable movie career, his investments in Aviation Gin, and of course, his acquisition of Welsh soccer team Wrexham A.F.C., Reynolds boasts one of the most diverse portfolios in entertainment, and his massive Mint Mobile liquidation means that he could feasibly be in the market for anything from a chain of private islands to a 300-foot superyacht to, I don’t know, a TV station for Buster Keaton films?
Seriously, no offense to the classic cinema fans of the world, but how much can a premium channel for hundred-year-old movies actually be worth in 2023? At least half of those subscriptions must come from nursing homes, so those $9.99 per month plans are probably pulling in about 25 cents per pair of cataracts-clouded eyeballs. Clearly, the a–hole in charge of the whole show doesn’t think much of TCM’s profit potential, and with all of the most expensive employee contracts off the books, the operating costs for the entire channel can’t be much more than the salary of whichever NYU film school grad was hired to be the only person in the classic movie business who knows how to maintain a digital archive.
I don’t want to disparage TCM or downplay the importance of preserving priceless pieces of film history — if anything, I want Reynolds to realize that there’s never been a better time to buy low on this “fixture in his life.” Whatever Reynolds’ fee was to guest star in that god-awful action-romance Ghosted should be a big enough offer to at least entice Zaslav into taking a meeting on the matter of selling TCM.
Of course, Warner Bros. Discovery selling off TCM would pose problems for the buyers, who would have to negotiate some deal with the channel’s former owners who still own the rights to the movies themselves. However, Zaslav doesn’t seem to care much for that stuff either, seeing as he’s constantly scrapping old flicks from the Max catalog. From the outside, it looks like Zaslav doesn’t think that anything his company owns is worth a damn — Reynolds might just be able to pull the entire DC Extended Universe in the deal and create the most ambitious crossover film in history.
Imagine Deadpool in a fez shouting insults at Superman in Casablanca. What kind of summit would Spielberg put together for that one?