It seems David Zaslav is finally doing something right since he has taken over as President and Chief Executive Officer of Warner Bros. Discovery by appointing filmmaker James Gunn and producer Peter Safran as co-chairs and co-CEOs of DC Studios, a newly formed division at Warner Bros. which will replace DC Films.
The duo will lead DC’s film, TV and animation efforts.
Back in August, Zaslav shared his 10-year plan with investors and that included finding a DCEU version of Kevin Fiege. The search was extensive and according to The Hollywood Reporter, Safran and Gunn were being courted even as the studio was in talks with producer Dan Lin.
Until now, Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy were set to temporarily run DC with Walter Hamada reporting directly to them until new leadership was announced. Now with Hamada leaving the studio as of last week, Zaslav really needed someone to fill his position.
Gunn will continue to direct projects while focusing on the creative side of things, and Safran will continue to produce projects while also focusing on the business and production side. They will report directly to Zaslav and work closely with De Luca and Abdy. The deal reportedly runs four years and Gunn will be exclusive to DC.
Here’s where things get a little muddy, not all DC projects will fall under Gunn and Safran’s leadership! Todd Phillips’ Joker sequel will be overseen by De Luca and Abdy and it is currently unclear what, if anything will come out of Matt Reeves’ The Batman movie moving forward. Aside from those two, everything else moving forward would be under Gunn and Safran’s leadership.
“DC has among the most entertaining, powerful, and iconic characters in the world and I am thrilled to have the singular and complementary talents of James and Peter joining our world-class team and overseeing the creative direction of the storied DC Universe,” said Zaslav in a statement. “Their decades of experience in filmmaking, close ties to the creative community, and proven track record thrilling superhero fans around the globe make them uniquely qualified to develop a long-term strategy across film, TV, and animation, and take this iconic franchise to the next level of creative storytelling.”
Gunn has been making a name for himself since the mid 90’s making over-the-top comedy/horror films with the indie cult classic film-producing company Troma. From there, he broke into the mainstream by writing Scooby-Doo and its sequel. Gunn became an A-list director in 2014 with Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy and its 2017 sequel.
After some old tweets emerged, which he had already previously apologized for, Disney temporarily fired Gunn due to far-right extremist pressure, but they eventually came to their senses and brought him back for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Guardians holiday special, not to mention a whole host of Disney+ projects.
While Gunn was on his Disney hiatus, WB welcomed him with open arms and allowed him the freedom to create The Suicide Squad, which was critically adored and spawned the hit HBO Max spinoff Peacemaker, starring John Cena. Gunn is currently working on a second season.
Safran began his career as a manager with Brillstein-Grey and eventually became president of the company and was responsible for day-to-day activities of the department, which had over 200 clients, including Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler, Nicolas Cage and Courteney Cox. He left Brillstein-Grey in 2006, to launch The Safran Company, and took his entire client list with him including James Gunn, Sean Combs, Adam Shankman, David Hyde Pierce, Jennifer Lopez, and Brooke Shields.
For the last few years, Safran has been able to build upon The Conjuring Universe and produce films such as Aquaman, Shazam! as well as their sequels, The Suicide Squad and many others under his banner and through his first-look deal with Warner Bros. Gunn and Safran are already well acquainted with each other and seem to have an excellent working relationship to build upon.
“We’re honored to be the stewards of these DC characters we’ve loved since we were children,” Gunn and Safran said in a statement. “We look forward to collaborating with the most talented writers, directors, and actors in the world to create an integrated, multilayered universe that still allows for the individual expression of the artists involved. Our commitment to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Harley Quinn, and the rest of the DC stable of characters is only equaled by our commitment to the wonder of human possibility these characters represent. We’re excited to invigorate the theatrical experience around the world as we tell some of the biggest, most beautiful, and grandest stories ever told.”
The hiring is effective November 1st, and comes as De Luca and Abdy have been making creative decisions and overseeing post-production on everything from The Flash to Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom since taking over their posts in early July.
“We could not be more excited to have James Gunn and Peter Safran join the team and assume the leadership of the DC Universe,” De Luca and Abdy said in a statement. “James is a brilliant filmmaker and storyteller and Peter is a tremendously successful and prolific producer and to have them both committing to work together to forge this new era for DC is a literal dream come true. We all share a very similar sensibility and passion for this universe and the stars couldn’t have aligned any better. We can’t wait to get started, dig in, and collaborate with these unmatched creative minds.”
DC released Black Adam over the weekend, which stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and featured Superman actor Henry Cavill’s return to the DC universe and we still have Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom to look forward to in 2023.