Warner Bros. Making Changes After ‘Justice League’ Disappoints

Image credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment

Around three weeks into its release, Justice League has made $US573.1 million worldwide. Not a poor result when looked at without context, but seeing as the film’s budget was reportedly as high as $US300 million – not mentioning promotion/distribution costs, well… it’s not good. Apparently JL needs to make around $US700 million to break even.

Featuring a number of popular characters, including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Cyborg, JL was expected to be WB’s DC answer to Marvel‘s Avengers. For comparison’s sake, Marvel’s 2012 film The Avengers made $US1.5 billion worldwide and is currently the fifth-highest grossing film of all time (unadjusted figures).

Justice League‘s box office disappointment and widely negative reviews follow the critical slamming of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, both of which still managed to bring in adequate box office numbers. Suffice it to say, save Wonder Woman, Warner Bros.’ DC universe hasn’t been going smoothly, and the studio’s not happy. As a result, some big in-house changes are expected to go ahead in January.

According to Variety, the studio is shaking things up in order to get this cinematic universe in order. First of all, Joe Berg, co-president of the film production division at DC Films, will be moved. Berg is to instead become a production partner with Lego Movie and It producer Roy Lee. The studio is now looking for his replacement, who’ll be running things with Geoff Johns. There will be a wide array of industry professionals who will be able to fill in the gap of these producers, some of which may have started their careers through attending film school in Denver, or a similar school, to get them to where they are today. But of course, they must be able to effectively work alongside Johns, as well as any other professionals they may come across. Johns is staying on as chief creative officer – although his role in the studio’s films could evolve to be “more advisory in nature”.

Warner Bros. Picture Group President Toby Emmerich is said to be looking at incorporating the DC film operation into WB’s overall movie department. As it stands now, the DC films are being developed in a different building on the studio lot. One can imagine the move would give WB a little more control over how these films are coming to life, as opposed to playing catch up with a different department – in a different building. Both Sony and Fox, for example, craft their Marvel films in house.

Image credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment

Justice League appears to be the last straw for WB. The film had one bumpy road to fruition. Variety reports that studio execs were apparently “alarmed” with just how dark a tone director Zack Snyder was giving the picture, especially after both Man of Steel and BvS had been criticised for the same thing. A personal tragedy led Snyder to leave the film behind, before post-production and expensive reshoots went ahead. Avengers director Joss Whedon was brought in to finish the film; he had originally been hired to “punch up the dialogue”.

It appears that even with Whedon’s hiring, Snyder had already shot too much of the picture, providing limitations on just what could be created to improve the film. They tried nevertheless; hence the questionable visual effects delivered with a small amount of time. There was also early concern regarding the film’s villain, Steppenwolf; changes aside, the character remains a poor element of the film for many.

WB isn’t completely negative about JL. The studio is apparently happy with how the film introduced Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the latter of whom is getting a James Wan-directed standalone film in late 2018.

The Variety article also repeats another unconfirmed report that’s been doing the rounds: “it is highly unlikely” that Ben Affleck will playing the Dark Knight in the standalone Batman movie to be directed Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes), who reportedly wants to recast the role. Affleck is still expected to appear in The Flash.

Apart from Aquaman, the studio has a Wonder Woman sequel and a New Line-set Shazam movie on the horizon.

Image credit: Warner Bros.