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The Hollywood Reporter has published a report about what’s going on behind the scenes at Warner Bros. While the studio is publicly maintaining that they are in no way concerned about BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE‘s performance, and that they intend to proceed with business as usual, others within the industry are hearing chatter that implies that the opposite is true. 

THR says that, in essence, since so much was riding on BATMAN V SUPERMAN and now the film is unlikely to break the $1 billion mark, the studio as a whole is looking to change its philosophy a bit and stick only with safe bets. They’re apparently mulling over releasing fewer films annually, and really focusing the bulk of their resources on tentpole films. This means fewer risks, like JUPITER ASCENDING, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, and PAN– which all contributed to a rough 18 months for Warner Bros. 

It’s not dramatic, but it is uncharted territory for them,” says an executive that does a lot of business with the studio. “They were always filmmaker-driven — that might now not be the case as much. They had a bad 18 months. How could there not be some kind of reaction to that? It’s a strange path to a greenlight now. It takes longer.

With BATMAN V SUPERMAN, CEO Kevin Tsujihara was hoping to prove that he and his regime- which took over in 2013- was going to turn a corner and lead the studio into an era of unbridled prosperity. “The biggest problem is that it is not turning [DC] into Marvel,” says an executive from another studio. “The audience has communicated, as have the critics.” They’re referring to the film’s abysmal reviews, mediocre ratings from fans, and the precipitous box office drop the film took after its first full day in theaters. While competitors feel the film may turn a profit, it will “hardly […] be the money gusher studios hope for when they pour massive resources into making a giant tentpole.

An agent tells THR that this sort of situation is inexcusable. They say that the film features “two of the most iconic characters in history,” yet won’t come close to the $1.67 billion that a film like JURASSIC WORLD made last year- a sequel/relaunch that came 14 years after JURASSIC PARK 3 effectively killed the franchise. “You can’t tell me BATMAN V SUPERMAN is so much less valuable [than JURASSIC WORLD]” they said. 

The report says that Warner Bros was caught off guard by the response to BvS, which has led to a flurry of rumors that the studio was thinking of doing a course correction for their DC franchise- which has several films slated to be released between now and 2020. A source with firsthand knowledge of what’s going on at Warner Bros says that it won’t be anything that dramatic, though. They claim that, when it comes to JUSTICE LEAGUE– which is set to start filming on Monday- “we’re not going to take a movie that’s supposed to be one thing and turn it into a copycat of something else.

So, if this is to be believed, there could definitely be changes, but nothing quite as big as firing Zack Snyder or delaying the film. 

Still, the BvS situation- coming off of WB’s rough year and a half- is a sign to many within the industry that the studio is facing a lot of instability. They say things have been somewhat in a state of disarray at Warner Bros even since Alan Horn was fired as president, which led to Jeff Robinov leaving the studio.

What does it all boil down to? Warner Bros, according to The Hollywood Reporter, may just become the studio of DC, LEGO, and Harry Potter. They’ll pool the bulk of their resources into getting DC right, making sure the LEGO brand stays profitable, and reanimating the corpse of its HARRY POTTER series when FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM comes out later this year. And, unless your name is Affleck, Nolan, Eastwood, or Todd Phillips (THE HANGOVER, OLD SCHOOL), you aren’t getting your original film made at Warner Bros, as they target films that come primarily from established properties.

For their part, the studio is maintaining that all is well. “Warner Bros. has historically had the biggest, most diverse slate in the motion picture industry,” says a studio representative. “We did last year, we will this year, and we will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.

We shall see. It’s certainly a fascinating time to be a fan of the comic book genre of films, and to see how a Hollywood titan like Warner Bros. struggles out of the gate with such a sure thing as BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. Sony stumbled with a can’t-miss property like SPIDER-MAN, so maybe the industry is learning that you can’t just plaster a name on a billboard, promise all kinds of genre mayhem and simply expect audiences to embrace it. With so much out there, vying for an audience, you need to be whip smart to make these things fly.

Here’s hoping they get everything figured out, and that there isn’t some sort of dramatic regime change that leads to further turmoil at the studio.

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter