Warner Bros. Reassessing Their Output After BATMAN V SUPERMAN?

Written by Andrew Pollard Thursday, 07 April 2016

Movie News

In not so much genre news, more general film news, it looks as if Warner Brothers are set to alter their entire filmmaking process and release output in the aftermath of Batman v Superman.

The Hollywood Reporter has word on the news, with the story claiming that CEO Kevin Tsujihara is planning to reduce the amount of films that the studio puts out each year and also looking to focus on more guaranteed hits. This is on the back of the WB getting hit by some massively underperforming outings like Jupiter Ascending, Pan and In the Heart of the Sea. Adding majorly to these woes is the whopping 69% drop that the Batman v Superman box office has suffered in its second weekend on release.

The hope with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman was that Warner Brothers would create themselves a cash-cow similar to what Marvel Studios and Disney had done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The shiny prize of a $1 billion box office that was taken home by all three of Avengers Assemble, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Iron Man 3 was what the WB had their eyes on, but both of the DC Cinematic Universe efforts to date have fallen short on that front.

It’s believed that, including the marketing budget, Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice cost around the $300 million mark to put together, and the film has now passed $700 million at the global box office.

The report from THR pulls some interesting and damning quotes, with an unnamed head of a rival studio saying, “The biggest problem is that it is not turning DC into Marvel. The audience has communicated, as have the critics.” Additionally, an unnamed agent has talked about how Batman v Superman won’t reach that magic $1 billion mark despite involving “two of the most iconic characters in history,” and noting how Jurassic World managed to take home $1.67 billion. As this agent put it, “You can’t tell me Batman v Superman is so much less valuable” than Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World. As much as we love Jurassic World, that's definitely a great point to make - after all, these are two of the biggest names in pop culture history, let alone comic book history.

Warners are supposedly in shock with the negative reviews from fans and critics that Batman v Superman has received, and you could say that this particular revelation is an indicator of just how out of touch the studio and those overseeing the DCCU (*cough* Zack Snyder *cough*) are with these legendary DC characters and the fanbase that they are trying to appeal to. The reason that the Marvel movies work so well is that time was taken to craft these characters and stories before intertwining them eventually in Avengers Assemble. You were given time to care! It also helps that so much of the MCU has stayed loyal to what we’ve seen over the years in the comic books – well, even though largely bypassing Hank Pym as Ant-Man still doesn’t sit totally right with us – meaning that both old fans and new fans can enjoy proceedings. With the DCCU realm so far, it’s all jumped the gun – dare we say jumped the shark – a little in how it’s frantically rushing along to play catch-up with its Marvel rivals. If Marvel Studios/Disney had handled things in the same way that Warner Brothers have, we’d have been given a second MCU effort that saw Hulk tangling with Iron Man whilst Thor was on the fringes, then cameos from Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye, all as Thanos caused chaos and pulled the strings. Simply put, it just wouldn’t have worked and we wouldn’t have given anywhere near as much of a shit about these Marvel characters as we do now.

Continuing with Warners and their DC output, the same report from THR claims that the studio is still, despite rumours, not looking to replace Zack Snyder on the two-part Justice League offering, but that the WB are instead looking to assess Batman v Superman and look at what went wrong in order to stop the same problems with Justice League. Yeah, good luck with that...

Going further into what’s happening at the studio, many are claiming that the troubles at Warner Brothers go back to when Jeff Bewkes took over as President from Alan Horn back in 2011. The changes that followed Bewkes ascendancy have coincided with Warner Brothers suffering some stinkers at the box office, all whilst Horn has been experiencing mass successes over at Disney.

Moving forward, this THR report claims that Warners are looking to move away from some of their more homegrown efforts, instead looking to focus on projects that mirror what’s being successfully done at Disney, i.e. their Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm movies. To do this, the WB are focussing their attention on their DC Comics, LEGO, and Harry Potter franchises, with Potter already having a new franchise spun off it. Warner Brothers will still look to keep it in the family with some of their movies, for example letting the likes of Christopher Nolan, Clint Eastwood and Ben Affleck direct certain homegrown films, but large parts of their focus is now on “named” properties that have been established outside of the confines of the Warner Brothers lot.

Whilst Warners themselves are denying any change in policy to their filmmaking and output, many executives and insiders are confirming that the past 18 months of bad business for the studio is now meaning that they’re going to become less filmmaker-driven than in previous times, with the process to greenlight fresh ideas and concepts reportedly being made more difficult in an act of quality control.

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