Civil War is about to cross $1 billion at the box office. Dawn of Justice only made it to $870 million. That’s still a big figure, but by most estimates, a movie starring the two most popular superheroes of all time really ought to have sold a lot more tickets. Warner Brothers seems to feel the same way. Everything we’ve heard in the last few weeks, from Seth Grahame-Smith being booted off the Flash movie to Ben Affleck being made EP on Justice League, seemed to indicate change was coming for these films. That change is now here, and the folks working under the WB water tower in Burbank have made some major shake-ups.
Instead of all top brass having to oversee every project, executives will now be in charge of what The Hollywood Reporter calls “genre streams,” with all things Lego and Harry Potter under Mad Max: Fury Road EP Courtenay Valenti, and an exec each on comedy/family films and action/sci-fi. The big news however, or at least the news we’re most interested in, is the re-routing of DC Entertainment through an entirely new division headed by Warner’s small-screen superhero pioneers, Executive VP Jon Berg and DC Creative Operations Officer Geoff Johns.
It’s called DC Films, and it sounds pretty great.
Johns is amidst his second relaunch of DC’s comic line in the last five years, and while I’m sure we all hope the transition from New 52 to Rebirth is a success (the company even has a new logo), Johns has come a long way on the non-comics side of things since 2011’s Green Lantern. He was a key part of bringing shows like The Flash and Supergirl to fruition, and he’s already been tasked with co-writing Ben Affleck’s The Batman*, but his involvement in overseeing reshoots and post on Suicide Squad was instrumental in his promotion. .
Johns is probably the only person they could’ve turned to, but that doesn’t preclude him from being the right choice. The DCEU’s discernible lack of direction and long-term planning was a bit of a head-scratcher, but it seems to finally be in the hands of someone who not only knows these characters inside-out, but knows the ins & outs of bringing superheroes to the screen. Besides, when it comes to planning you can’t do much better than the guy who spent a decade turning Green Lantern into one of DC’s most interesting mythologies. “DC Films” also sounds like a response to “Marvel Studios,” and while I’m sure that it isn’t, the comicbook fan in me can’t help but want some healthy competition. The Marvel shakeup has already led to some great decisions (everything about Black Panther sounds incredible) and DC Films is already switching things up with its Harley Quinn-led team up movie, so perhaps giving these two entities the same freedom as their publishing counterparts will lead to a mutual upping of games.
The WB changes aren’t done either according to THR. Vice Chairman Edward Romano is set to retire in a few months, and as pure speculation, I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll see much more of Kevin Tsujihara. That’s just me, but all this appears to be the first step in what Warner Brothers hopes will be their comeback. Producers and directors don’t seem to have been happy with the greenlight process, so maybe the studio is going to start being more accommodating. I can only assume this extends to DC Films given that they’ve got a writer in charge, but it remains to be seen.
Any change would’ve been a good change for the DCEU, but for the first time in a while, I’m optimistic. We’ll likely see the initial effects of this new leadership when Suicide Squad arrives in August, and it looks like going forward, there’s going to be a fair bit to look forward to.
*I hope this is the actual title.