Just two days after Warner Bros. Discovery made the surprising move of canceling the film from HBO Max Bat girlan unapologetic CEO, David Zaslav, tried to reassure Wall Street that there is a cohesive plan for DC’s future.
“You look at Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, these are brands that are known all over the world,” Zaslav said during an earnings call Thursday. “We have done a reset. We have restructured the business where we are going to focus, where there is going to be a team with a 10-year plan focused only on DC. We believe we can build a much more sustainable business.”
DC has long wanted to emulate the success of Disney-owned Marvel Studios, which Kevin Feige has turned into the highest-grossing film franchise in history. Zaslav recently hired Feige’s former boss, retired Disney film director Alan Horn, as an adviser. During the earnings call, Zaslav suggested that DC would try to emulate Marvel’s playbook.
“It is very similar to the structure of Alan Horn, [former Disney CEO] Bob Iger and Kevin Feige came together very well at Disney. We believe we can build a much stronger sustainable growth business outside of DC,” Zaslav said. “As part of that, we are going to focus on quality. We are not going to release any film before it is ready. … DC is something we can improve on.”
DC has proceeded in stops and starts after the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s definition. dark Knight trilogy concluded a decade ago. The studio initially turned to Zack Snyder to oversee his planned universe, which the filmmaker released in 2013 with Iron Man. However, Snyder lost the trust of studio executives after the divisive 2016. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justiceand some of the films on an ambitious 10-project slate announced in 2014 never came to fruition, including justice league 2. Executive Walter Hamada took the reins at DC Films in 2018 and has been planning a string of movies, including several for HBO Max to fulfill then-WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar’s tenure. Now those plans are changing once again.
Zaslav hyped up a number of DC movies to come, including black adam Y Shazam! fury of the godsand addressed rumors that some of those movies might change dates without confirming or denying any details.
“We are very excited about them. We have seen them. We think they are fantastic and we think we can make them even better,” said Zaslav in terms of marketing and distribution of the upcoming films, which also include The flashstarring controversial actor Ezra Miller.
Miller was accused of suffocating a fan in Iceland in April 2020 and Business Insider released a report Thursday with a lengthy interview with the parents of an 18-year-old who say the actor had groomed their son since they were 12 years old. Warner’s plans for The flashwhich has a release date of June 2023, have been closely watched.
The executive also revealed that, while focusing on theatrical releases, “several films will be released with shorter windows…and with different marketing campaigns. But we will always be nimble and the focus will be on the theater.”
Before the pandemic, theater owners could demand an exclusive theatrical window of 74 days to 90 days. Now, a movie that opens for $50 million or less domestically can be available at home as soon as two or three weeks after its theatrical release (Universal was the first major Hollywood studio to abide by such terms).
Zaslav’s comments come at a difficult time for DC. On Tuesday, Warners announced the news that it was setting aside its $90 million Bat girl film, which was in full post-production ahead of a planned HBO Max release. Multiple sources noted that Warner Media Discovery was choosing to use the film’s losses as a tax break rather than publish it. The move has sparked jitters that other movies could follow, with Blue beetle Filmmaker Ángel Manuel Soto liked the tweets asking Warners to protect his DC movie, which was initially developed for HBO Max before being upgraded to cinema.
Zaslav said that expensive films for broadcast did not make economic sense.
“The goal is to grow the DC brand. To grow DC characters. But also, our job is to protect the DC brand, and that’s what we’re going to do.”