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3. December 2011 Jakub Váchal

Back in England – with a difference this time

When I joined Warner Bros.’ European headquarters for a year-long internship almost five months ago, my biggest wish was that my position would entail more than just making coffee for my superiors and photocopying documents. Happily, I can say that my wish was more than granted – and somebody even makes coffee for me every morning!

When I joined Warner Bros.’ European headquarters for a year-long internship almost five months ago, my biggest wish was that my position would entail more than just making coffee for my superiors and photocopying documents. Happily, I can say that my wish was more than granted – and somebody even makes coffee for me every morning!

After the initial, “handover” week, when my intern predecessor taught me to work with the in-house software and databases, I was thrown in at the deep end so to speak: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 was released globally the very first weekend after I had joined.

I think there’s no need to introduce the young sorcerer’s story, as it is perhaps the biggest cultural phenomenon of recent times, also (or mainly) thanks to its film renditions. Harry Potter is the most successful current film series in movie history, which is also why all units participating in the launch of the last installment were under immense pressure. The task for our department – EMEA Distribution – was analyzing how the film fared in the various countries, adjusting the final result estimates accordingly, comparing the estimates with the preceding installments and competing movies, and then submitting all of the information summed up to the Los Angeles headquarters. With a global revenue exceeding $1.3 billion, the film was the most successful title of the year and the third most successful in history, and so I got to raise a glass of Champagne to Warner Bros.’ most successful movie ever just a few weeks into my internship with the company.

Looking back at the hectic period, I think I couldn’t possibly have chosen a better moment to go to work. I learned faster under the immense pressure, and there was no time to make mistakes that my superior would have to correct later. When all the excitement about HP subsided after a few weeks, I was able to start focusing on those aspects of my job that I was interested in and enjoyed the most. And so I started going to internal film screenings, often months ahead of their scheduled premieres, and discussing them and their chances of success within our department and with the various countries in our scope. Then, with the help of a colleague who is a seasoned film expert with a wealth of experience in evaluating the sales potential of unreleased films, I would transform the discussions into financial forecasts to help my superiors in making decisions regarding how widespread a film should be distributed, how much to spend on advertising, and even if releasing a film for theaters in a country would pay off at all.

Working for the world’s most successful film studio is precisely as exciting and as fun as it sounds, and I hope I have managed to illustrate the feeling for you just a little bit. I can now say with certainty that taking my internship between my second and third years was the best decision that I have made at university.

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