Warner Bros Head Reveals New Vision for DC Movies

Warner Bros. Studio chairman Toby Emmerich says the DC Films side of its slate will be filmmaker-driven following hits steered by directors Patty Jenkins and James Wan.

“Great directors are the lifeblood of a studio, but they need great producers,” Emmerich said during the Produced By Conference Saturday (via Deadline) when the panel broached the subject of team-up event films Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, which failed to reach the $1 billion milestone.

Following the blockbuster success of solo superhero hits Wonder Woman and Aquaman — the Wan-directed blockbuster surfaced as the highest-grossing DC Comics-inspired movie and the first DC Extended Universe entry to bypass $1 billion — Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told CNBC he expects Warner Bros. to mostly steer clear of Marvel Studios-like crossovers in favor of standalones.

“I think they’re in a really good spot right now, and perhaps the lesson learned from Aquaman and Wonder Woman will carry forward,” Dergarabedian said.

“Every individual studio has their own identity, and they don’t always have to chase what the others are doing.”

Batman v Superman took in $873 million worldwide, a lesser-than-expected haul for the first live-action feature teaming two of the world’s finest superheroes, the Dark Knight (Ben Affleck) and the Man of Steel (Henry Cavill).

That underperformance forced major changes for the handling of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which emerged in November 2017 as the then lowest-earning DCEU entry with just $657 million worldwide; this despite the popularity earned by Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, whose own blockbuster roped up $821 million at the global box office months earlier.

Shazam! — once the lowest-budgeted DCEU entry before it was learned the studio will spend $75 million on Margot Robbie’s Suicide Squad spinoff Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) — is now the lowest DCEU earner, pulling in $362 million worldwide for Zachary Levi’s kid-turned-adult superhero in his big screen debut.

Even as solo films push the DCEU forward, Warner Bros. isn’t forgoing multi-hero movies entirely: Birds of Prey teams Robbie’s Harley Quinn with DC heroines Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (June Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), and Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn will assemble a new team in The Suicide Squad.

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Recent months have brought a flurry of announced projects centered around typically solo heroes, including Supergirl, Batgirl, Zatanna, Blue Beetle, and Plastic Man.

Beyond Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984, the studio is now developing an Aquaman sequel and has long had a solo Flash movie in the works. Matt Reeves’ The Batman, to star Robert Pattinson as a just-starting-out caped crusader, is not expected to feature famed sidekicks Robin or Nightwing.

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