DCEU: The WB's Bizarre Bookkeeping Strikes Again, As 'Banned' Producer Made $50M on MAN OF STEEL, More!
Something I've touched on many times before is that the accounting offices over at Warner Bros. deserve a closer look. If you follow box office analysis like I do, you'll come across experts in the field making claims like Harry Potter And The Order of The Phoenix actually LOST money for the studio, despite earning $938 million worldwide (I'll include a link to that in the SOURCE). You'll also hear about the idea that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice needed to make something like $900-$920 million in order to be profitable, meaning the $827M it made actually leaves Warner Bros. in the red!
A new report from The Hollywood Reporter reveals exactly what kinds of practices often lead Warner Bros. to doing anything but "laughing all the way to the bank" when their movies fail critically but seemingly do so well financially.
Producer Jon Peters, famous in fanboy circles for all of his deranged ideas trying to reboot the Superman franchise with Superman Lives, has apparently been collecting fat checks for DC movies he's had practically nothing to do with! How much money has he been making? Try this on for size: Man of Steel made $668 million worldwide. $50 million of that went to Peters...who was banned from the set by Christopher Nolan!!
Let that sink in for a moment.
Peters wasn't involved with Man of Steel. Nolan, who was the Godfather of the project, prohibited him from even visiting the set of the film. And yet he ended up profiting more than just about anyone else involved with the project. Even Superman Returns, which he was only minimally involved with, as Bryan Singer was able to pretty much make the film he wanted to make, put $30-$35 Million in the producer's pocket. Combine that with the fact that the millions of dollars wasted on Superman Lives were tacked onto Singer's production budget and it's no wonder the studio wasn't impressed with that film's box office numbers. SR was in a $70 million hole- to cover the salaries of Nicolas Cage, Tim Burton, and Peters- before it ever even entered production!
Peters confirmed to THR that he pocketed around $85 million for the last two standalone Superman movies. "I have 7.5 percent of the gross," said Peters of the sick deal he had with Warner Bros. "Together they did [more than] a billion."
In case you're curious, his deal was renegotiated before Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Warner Bros. convinced him to take a pay cut and have his name scrubbed the production, in exchange for green-lights on several other passion projects like another remake of A Star Is Born. So his DC reign of terror seems to finally be over, concluding a run that began when the former hairdresser signed on as a producer for Tim Burton's Batman back in 1989.
This all points to the fact that, in general, Warner Bros. needs to take a long, hard look at the deals it cuts. For fans of all kinds of DC films that have seemingly "under-performed," like Superman Returns and Dawn of Justice, it's unfair for these beloved properties to face such steep uphill battles before they've even started filming. There's no reason a movie that made $827 million shouldn't be seen as an unequivocal victory. These practices lead to rash decisions by WB/DC to "fix" what was wrong- sometimes misdiagnosing what the problem was, in their haste to make a bigger payday next time.
Examples of misdiagnoses:
- For Superman Returns, WB decided the problem was that the character of Superman needed to be reinvented in ways that were "darker and more complex with more action," so we got a reboot instead of the action-packed sequel Bryan Singer was planning on making, Man of Steel.
- When Man of Steel got reviewed far worse than Superman Returns did, polarized the fan base, and only made $36 million more than SR did domestically when adjusted for inflation...Warner Bros. seemingly decided it was just because today's fans don't seem to like Superman anymore. So they took his sequel and turned it into a vehicle to introduce Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the Justice League, instead of giving us a Man of Steel 2.
- When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice got destroyed by critics, got "Meh" ratings from fans, and ended up making less than Christopher Nolan's last two standalone Batman movies...Warner Bros. decided the problem was "the tone." So now we're treated to quote-after-quote about WB/DC adjusting the tone of their movies, which wasn't really what people didn't like about the movie.
Fascinating stuff, if you love DC and are curious about how the movie business works. Warner Bros. has made some interesting decisions in the past. Here's hoping for a brighter future.
If this kind of thing intrigues you, I'll include a link to my ongoing DCEU series, which is kind of a dry run for an eventual book I'd like to write on this subject: