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– by David Kozlowski

In the wake of yet another Warner Bros. management shakeup, something new has emerged: the beginning of a vision for DC Films, or at least the freedom to forge one. 2017 was a helluva year for WB and DC; just when it seemed like they had turned a corner with Wonder Woman, they stumbled with Justice League — a film that’s polarized fans and the media. 2018 is a crucial year of change for the studio, but what kinds of changes — and what they yield — is a story that will be told over the next several years, as Aquaman is currently the only film they’re releasing this year (and it’s not hitting until December).

WB Entertainment CEO, Kevin Tsujihara, is streamlining his organization, according to TheWrap. He’s moved some people out — veteran marketing chief Sue Kroll is stepping down — and delegating and investing more in new WB Pictures Chairman Toby Emmerich, who now reports solely to Tsujihara. Emmerich will assume responsibility for worldwide theatrical production, marketing, and distribution, as reported by Deadline.

Related – Can The New DC Films President Save The DCEU?

“Toby has greenlight, I have red light,” said Tsujihara in a lovely haiku — a rather naked effort to convey his shift toward simplicity and accountability. Tsujihara is positioned to be a check on Emmerich’s new power, and therefore DC Films’ success or failure is laser-focused on what these two can achieve. Accountability!

Tsujihara is refocusing DC Films with a top-down approach. His first step is to scrap WB’s “decision-by-committee” practice (a choice that Marvel Studios recently made too). Aligning the entire organization under Emmerich cedes more power to him, obviously, but it also cuts out a lot of middlemen. No mention was made of new DC Films president, Walter Hamada, who’s almost certainly reporting to Emmerich; both men worked at New Line, so one assumes the line of decision-making includes Hamada. Tsujihara is betting on Emmerich’s (and by extension, Hamada’s) vision for DC Films, empowering them discover their own distinct identity. He explains:

“Warner Bros. needs to continue doing what it’s always done: producing the biggest, most diverse slate in the business. That’s what’s made us successful. We can’t do what Disney’s done. It’s worked really, really well for them, but it’s not who we are. We need to continue to create a balanced slate of all types of movies and all genres.”

Tsujihara’s candor is shocking — you simply don’t hear remarks like this from a studio head. He’s acknowledging that WB can’t replicate the MCU, and more important: they shouldn’t try. This is a remarkable admission of failure, if you read between the lines, and suggests that he’s more interested in making great movies than pursuing shared universes. The bones of this premise can be seen in Wonder Woman, a superhero film that very much stands on its own, even when it’s nodding at the larger canvas.

This is important because, aside from Wonder Woman, every recent DC Film has struggled narratively or critically or financially (sometimes all at the same time); to continue with the status quo would be madness. I really admire what Tsujihara’s doing here, he’s essentially stating that DC Films will forge its own path, do its own thing, and be judged by the merits of its own vision going forward. Kudos to you Mr. Tsujihara! I hope DC fans (and WB investors) give him the rope to see this through, because it’s going to take a while.

There’s a lot to do, beginning with a reset or a recalibration of the massive slate of DC superhero films announced, retracted, and re-announced over the last few years. Aquaman, Shazam, Wonder Woman 2, and The Batman are their immediate priorities, but what comes next and how it’s presented to fans and the media is critical. Remember that Tsujihara and Emmerich are not writing scripts nor directing actors. For this new plan to work they still need to identify great scripts and talented folks to execute them.

By grabbing the reigns as Tsujihara and Emmerich are doing, the entire organization becomes flatter and more responsive. If they can delegate the same level of autonomy to their individual movie projects, DC Films has a real chance of re-defining itself and making the kinds of awesome superhero movies that fans deserve.


Do you think the recent leadership changes at WB and DC Films will result in better superhero movies in the future? Let us know in the comments down below!

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SOURCE: TheWrap , Deadline

  • David E

    Meanwhile at the Hall of Disney the MCU is counting money. At present it is Black Panthers turn at the printing presses.

    • It seems like Marvel is going to have an epic, epic year between Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp (don’t underestimate this last one, a superhero rom-com has big upside).

  • Kronx

    Definitely rock bottom. DC’s 5 movies have only made $3.7 billion globally… Losers.

    • Ryan Johnson

      You’re missing the fact that Iron Man was made for about $140 mil while Man of Steel was made for $225. DC spends way too much on their movies, which is why JL can make $650 mil and still not turn a profit.

      • Kronx

        True, but until you get to the Avengers, DC is outperforming Marvel even with the budget differences.

        For the first four films, DC spent $822 million and made $3.191 billion. Marvel spent $703 million and made $2.249 billion, (adjusted for inflation). While we know the films should have been better, I can’t call it a complete failure either.

      • Precisely!

    • J-man The Great

      Marvel has had 4 movies gross over $1 billion worldwide while the DCEU hasn’t had a single movie over $900 million. And JL has the lowest DCEU gross to date, couldn’t even beat out the crappy MOS; so DC is definitely not going in the right direction!

      • Kronx

        Yes, but you’re comparing the fledgling DCU with the polished MCU. I’m just saying if you look at how the MCU started and compare it with the DCU films, it’s not that far off.

        The difference is JL vs. Avengers. While the Avengers film elevated the established characters and brought everything together, JL is the culmination of the narrative mistakes DC has been making since day one.

        DC absolutely had to change what it had been doing, but, at the same time, there is a foundation to build upon.

        • Ryan Johnson

          Yes, this fifth movie was really the “proof in the pudding” moment for both companies. While Avengers showed that fans liked the characters they had been introduced to and were excited for the team up, JL showed that fans had soured on the DC product and were staying away.

        • J-man The Great

          The DCU is new but DC comic book movies are not. Superman the Movie I, II, III, IV, Tim Burton’s Batman movies along with the abominations that followed, Superman Returns, Nolan’s Batman Trilogy and the granddaddy flopper of all, Green Lantern. They got some right but more often than not their attempts royally bombed, DC CB movies just keep making the same mistakes over and over again while the proverbial blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut. For the most part they haven’t had a clue what they’re doing which was epitomized in JL!

    • Loveblanket

      But you’re not factoring in costs and marketing. The DC films have made far less profit, not to mention they’re shit films aside from Wonder Woman.

      • That’s exactly right. Take your production budget and double it to cover marketing. So Justice League cost $300 million in production costs, so they were $600 million in the hole before the movie ever hit a single theater… and lots of reports say that they lost $100 million from just that film. Now add in big-budget flops like King Arthur, Blade Runner, and Geostorm. Something has to change.

        • Mad Barchetta

          And what a mixed bag, there! Haven’t seen Blade Runner, but by all accounts and measures, it seems to have been a damn good movie, just with terrible box office. King Arthur was something of a director vanity project, I think. Might have succeeded in another year, but not this one. Geostorm….words almost fail…..I think it sits on the same shelf with the AMC Pacer under the heading “Who in the name of all that is holy EVER looked and this project and said, “Looks like a winner to me!”” The only excuse for not recognizing this thing as a colossal turd from the beginning is either heavy HEAVY drug use or severe brain damage. Might have to be both, frankly. Holy crap on a cracker!

    • Yes, DC movies earned $3.7 billion… and yet they lost money. That’s a problem.

      Marvels films are profitable, and they have a plan that’s been working for a decade running.

      • Kronx

        I don’t know that they lost money until JL. But I’m not here to imply they were doing the right things either. They just weren’t really THAT bad off until JL, and were doing fine when compared to the first MCU films.

        I’m not sure throwing everything to horror directors and producers is the right way to go, but at least they should be able to work cheap.

  • Kindofabigdeal

    This is Rocky throwing in the towel as Apollo is falling to his death.

  • Smerdyakov

    Tsujihara’s candor is shocking

    Candor….The dude said nothing.

    • Loveblanket

      He admitted that they can’t compete with the MCU and shouldn’t try. That’s pretty honest and open for PR firm dominated businesses.

      • Smerdyakov

        But probably totally wrong.

  • Loveblanket

    The weakness nobody really ever talks about is that many of the DC characters just aren’t that good. Batman is good, but it’s been done to death and it will be hard to top Nolan’s take on the character. Wonder Woman is good, but not great, and Superman is the most pointless character in the history of comics. He’s basically indestructable and even when he dies, it isn’t for long. How can you ever create any actual tension in a film where the protagonist is basically god in a corny looking suit and cape? Superman is what you’d get if you asked a 5 year old what kind of superpowers they wanted. As for the rest, what is there? Robin? Shazam? Aquaman? Marvel sets up more believable and more importantly, more vulnerable characters that feel like they are actually in danger and if they stay even somewhat true to the Infinity Wars, many of them are. None of the DC characters ever feel like they face any real threat and if they do, Superman will be there to save them.

    • Kronx

      I used to agree on Superman until I watched Smallville. They did a great job of establishing the physical and emotional vulnerabilities of a young man with incredible power.

  • WTFITBS

    DC has an better Multi-Verse than Marvel. Also they have the ability to fluctuate between a PG-13 and R rating for upcoming films. Why not play around with stories like Crisis on Infinite Earths, INJUSTICE, Flashpoint and Gotham by Gaslight? The stories are awesome and should be told in a live-action format.

    • J-man The Great

      Multi-verse? They should start with getting the mono-verse right first!

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.