If last week was a great week for Warner Bros when announcing multiple news for their DC Films projects and gaining goodwill. However, as always for the studio, this week they’ve shot themselves in the foot.
As announced on April 1 by The Hollywood Reporter, New Gods, directed by Ava DuVernay, and a spin-off of James Wan’s Aquaman centred on The Trench aren’t moving forward.
It’s a bit of a shame because thanks to Zack Snyder’s Justice League, viewers know more about the fourth world and the New Gods. So this project had more of a leg up, and blaming the Snyder cut is a weird movie.
The same goes for The Trench; it wouldn’t have been a movie I’d be interested in as I’m not a horror fan. However, the project is interesting as we know more about the history (after briefly seeing it in Aquaman) of these monsters. A cool, low-budget body horror flick that could’ve connected to Aquaman 2 could’ve been interesting to see.
DC Films Chief Walter Hamada did the right thing if he felt there was no room to put them on the shelve. However, in the case of New Gods, I won’t be surprised if the project is picked up again once Marvel releases Eternals.
It’s also puzzling because they talk about the multiverse but to remove films that would expand the world and, on the other hand, create a Peacemaker series? A character we haven’t seen yet in The Suicide Squad.
These up and downs continue to muddy the water of what Warner Bros wants to achieve with their DC Comics movies because I genuinely believe under the right mind, like the prototype Kevin Feige, these characters can reach the heights of the MCU. If anything, even bigger!
Which makes perfect sense that WB should let DC go and become a subsidiary forming a studio of its own. So they’d have their own execs, marketing team, financing and control of TV, animation and games projects.
It the same way as New Line Cinema when it merged with Warner Bros, and as then-president Alan Horn said, “There’s no budget required, They’ll be doing about six per year, though the number may go from four to seven.”
This would work for handling DC and I’d call the umbrella company, DC Studios.
How Would DC Studios Work?
Like Marvel Studios, they’re a film studio first, but they would work with and have final greenlighting say on DCTV, DC Animation and DC Games.
So when it comes to films, DC Studios would have a chairman who only reports to Ann Sarnoff and Jason Kilar.
Despite what fans think, Sarnoff is Chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios, so she would have to be involved in the greenlighting process but would have the freedom of skipping past WB Chairman Toby Emmerich.
Meanwhile, each department’s presidents wouldn’t have to worry as much just reporting to their DC chairman daily and would only have to pitch to them.
The two in mind for DC Animation President is Bruce Timm or James Krieg.
Timm is a legend creating the iconic Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League and many films. However, many of you would never have heard of Krieg’s name, but he’s a cracking producer who has been at the studio in the role since 2002, and he’s such a character just watch the special features and enjoy.
As for the Games side, they’d still work with Rocksteady and WB Games Montreal with former Sony Interactive Entertainment (PlayStation) President & CEO and Sony Network Entertainment International Executive Vice President and COO, Shawn Layden.
As for DCTV, the top name should be Sarah Schechter as her producing credits are top draw due to her work with Greg Berlanti, and she deserves to run a TV production house working with networks and HBO Max.
Additionally, DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee would be in an advisory role to help execs, producers and directors with any character related info.
Who Would Run DC Studios
The biggest question, but when you think about it, there’s only one choice, Charles Roven.
His producing credits beginning in 1983 and they include Twelve Monkeys, live-action Scooby-Doo movies, American Hustle, and flops like Warcraft and The Great Wall.
His ties to DC make him the perfect choice as he’s worked with Christopher Nolan on The Dark Knight Trilogy, Zack Snyder’s DC movies, Wonder Woman with Patty Jenkins and the two Suicide Squad films.
At 71 years old, it’s hard to say how long he’d want to do it, but he’s well-liked in Hollywood and wouldn’t have to deal with the day-to-day life but keep busy with creating the future of the multiverse.
In which case, Walter Hamada and someone else works under Chuck as co-presidents. Yes, it would be a demotion for the current DC Films chief, but he’s shown to be great for WB/DC, with his only dips being Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984.
This would introduce a new framework:
A three-tier system when controlling budgets for productions.
Tier 1 – Productions over $100 million, including Justice League films and the core members of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern Corps and Aquaman. It can also be for special events like New Gods.
Tier 2 – $50-$100 million production budget for the likes of Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, Shazam, Black Adam, Supergirl, Batgirl, Nightwing, Green Arrow and Gotham City Sirens.
Tier 3 – $10-$50 million production budget would be for all DC Black Label films, animated features and HBO Max exclusives.
This was a staple of Warner Bros legacy and why so many incredible filmmakers were and still are part of the studio, but it seems less so when it comes to DC.
Zack Snyder had repeated battles with the studio during the production of Justice League. When it comes to Suicide Squad, they took the film away from David Ayer, giving the editing job to a trailer park transforming the movie into a version of Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool.
The studio would argue the box office results prove they were right, but critical and fan reception show the film disappointed.
So it would be best for this studio to tell all their filmmakers that they’ll have creative control to tell whatever story and whatever tone they chose when they join their studio.
However, during negotiations, the studio would state early they want it to connect with another project. Or if they believe there’s spin-off or interconnected storylines whilst in production and talking with other directors. In that case, those changes happen during reshoots after discussions with the fellow director of said film.
Connected If Needed
Stories can be as connected to each other when needed.
I think how Cathy Yan handled that with Birds of Prey because it was in many ways a spiritual sequel to Ayer’s 2016 team-up with the break-up of Joker and Harley and the wanted poster of Captain Boomerang.
Another example is with Superman: Man of Tomorrow, the animated film teases Batman but doesn’t take away from the movie.
So it can be a small thread-like those or go bigger in a Marvel sort of way or Zack Snyder’s Justice League wherein the final moments kicks off Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello) hunting Ben Affleck’s Batman.
What Happens Next
A lot of its PR and stuff getting out to the press. It got better with Hamada in the role but announced projects never seem to get off the ground (Deathstroke, Steven Spielberg’s Blackhawk, Nightwing) or get stuck in development hell (New Gods, The Trench and the longest time, The Flash).
So any projects announced in the future will already be at work for months, be even better the first draft would’ve been handed in, like the news of a new Superman film was in the works.
Then there’s radio silence for months regarding projects because there are enough productions to get the limelight. It is more behind the scenes, like hiring top marketing staff. Then when the times right, that year’s DC Fandom comes round.
This is where we finally hear from everyone and their plans for the future.