Microsoft’s TV production arm might not be gone forever, as the company is apparently looking to sell Xbox Entertainment Studios to Warner Bros.
The corporation decided to close down Xbox Entertainment Studios last month, following a massive, worldwide wave of layoffs, but The Hollywood Reporter cites some inside sources stating that Microsoft is currently in preliminary talks with Warner Bros. concerning the fate of the TV production division.
The publication quotes a Warner Bros. spokesperson saying that the studio is “constantly having preliminary discussions regarding business opportunities with numerous companies at any given time.”
Xbox division head Phil Spencer announced in July that Microsoft would shut down the studio, as part of new Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella’s initiative to refocus the technology colossus on its core businesses.
The experimentation with Xbox exclusive media started around 2012, and when the Xbox One computer entertainment was revealed in 2013, Microsoft’s plans included a ton of TV features, among which brand new and exclusive shows.
Even though the studio shut down, some in-house, TV-related projects are still underway, including the Halo TV series, led by renowned science-fiction movie director Steven Spielberg, as well as the Halo: Nightfall live-action series and the live-action sequences in Quantum Break, Remedy Entertainment’s upcoming Xbox One exclusive action adventure video game.
For the time being, the news has not been corroborated by either Warner Bros. or Xbox Entertainment Studios representatives, but given the studio’s high-profile development teams and the pretty big projects on its slate, it would make sense for it to be looking for a new strategic partner that would allow development efforts to continue.
Additionally, a deal between the two would also bring some pretty exciting new digital projects to Warner Bros.’ pipeline, at a time when more and more traditional Hollywood studios are showing an increased interest in new digital developments.
Just this March, Warner Bros. made an acquisition deal with Machinima, a prominent digital entertainment media firm which would act as a natural companion to Xbox Entertainment Studios, as both companies share their target demographic of young male video game enthusiasts.
Machinima is currently operating the most popular entertainment app on the Xbox One console, and a partnership with XES would allow it the necessary infrastructure to produce big-budget projects that could reach a wider audience, in addition to the original digital content that the company is already creating.
For the time being, it is unclear whether Warner Bros. would get just the studio infrastructure, or whether a deal would also include the rights to the various IPs that the studio currently owns, which would allow the company to distribute its products on other platforms such as the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Wii U.