The showbusiness industry can be fickle, but for now Time Warner is having a run of success. Profits at the New York-based media giant rose 71% to $1.29bn in the first quarter, compared to $754m a year ago.
The Lego Movie, a surprise hit earlier this year, generated around $450m for the group’s Warner Brothers company. Other box office successes including 300: Rise of an Empire and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug helped revenue rise 14% to $3.1bn during the first quarter. Operating profit at the studio – famous for producing the Harry Potter series – jumped 40% to $369m.
Time Warner’s HBO premium cable channel also showed strong growth, thanks to hits including Game of Thrones and its newly-aired True Detective series. HBO’s profits rose 11%, or $47m, to $464m after a rise in subscriptions and a boost in sales from the release of the third season of Game of Thrones.
It seems viewers can’t get enough of George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy saga, which is the officially the most pirated TV programme internationally, accounting for a quarter of all illegal downloads from 100 torrent sites. The show’s Season 4 premiere on April 6 attracted 6.6 million viewers, HBO's largest audience since The Sopranos finale in 2007, Time Warner said.
Last week, Amazon announced a deal with HBO to show the channel's classic hit programmes including The Wire on its streaming service, Amazon Prime.
Elsewhere in the entertainment business, it’s not all glitz. Animation studio DreamWorks reported a net loss of $42.9m earlier this week following the weak box office performance of Mr. Peabody and Sherman.