Warner Bros Discovery (WBD.O) boss David Zaslav is playing too much with Barbie. The $28 billion entertainment conglomerate he runs said the toy-based movie will boost financial performance. It’s a welcome contribution amid a costly writers’ strike that is halting production of new material. The use of old brands, however, has a patchy track record.
Barbie breathed life into a 1960s cultural icon. Against the zeitgeist of female empowerment, the doll best known for her supernatural plastic physique was portrayed by Margot Robbie in a film that has generated $1.4 billion in box office revenue and is on track to outpace the Harry Potter films. Mattel (MAT.O), the $8 billion company behind the brand, has increased its market value 20% since late May, growing three times as fast as the S&P 500 Index (.SPX). Warner Bros Discovery, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that free cash flow is set to exceed $1.7 billion this quarter, helping the company raise estimates for the year as it pays down debt.