Lego Batman and CNN star as Time Warner profits rise

Lego Batman figures Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lego Batman has grossed more than $300m worldwide

Profits at Time Warner jumped in the first three months of the year, lifted by box office success for its Lego Batman and Kong: Skull Island movies.

The US media giant reported profits of $1.4bn (£1.1bn) in the first quarter, up 17% from the same period in 2016.

Its movie business, Warner Bros, drove revenue gains, with an 8% year-on-year rise.

The CNN news channel also helped fuel growth, reporting its most watched first quarter in 14 years.

"The heightened political climate continues to benefit CNN," said John Martin, head of Turner, Time Warner's cable division.

"There's a lot of demand," he said on a call with financial analysts on Wednesday.

US President Donald Trump's unpredictability has boosted interest in national news. Separately, the New York Times media group reported a rise in subscriptions on Wednesday.

Daytime ratings at CNN are up 21% in the key 25-54 demographic, Time Warner said. The company also highlighted the audiences attracted by comedy news shows such as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption CNN says it is benefiting from a keener interest in US political news

Overall revenue increased 5.8% year-on-year to $7.7bn.

That was helped by Lego Batman and Kong: Skull Island movies, which together have grossed nearly $900m globally, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo.

Higher subscription fees for its HBO cable channel and the Turner broadcast network, which includes CNN, also buoyed revenues, helping to offset a decline in advertising.

Time Warner last year announced it would be acquired by telecom giant AT&T. That deal is expected to close before the end of 2017.

The company recorded $82m in costs associated with the pending merger.

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