Last week during Warner Bros. Discovery‘s Second Quarter 2022 Earnings Call, David Zaslav, the current President and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery explained his 10-year-plan to model the DC Cinematic Universe after Kevin Feige’s MCU at Disney.
Zaslav became CEO of Discovery Communications on November 16, 2006. Under his leadership, Discovery became a Fortune 500 company. When Discovery merged with WarnerMedia, he retained his leadership position, got a bump in his salary, and a nice fat bonus. Since then he’s been shaking things up like cutting the number of original content on the streaming service HBO Max and shelving Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt, reportedly to reap some tax write-offs.
With his sweeping big moves, many DC fans have been anxious to hear his plans for the future and during the call, Lead Equity Research Analyst from Deutsche Bank, Bryan Kraft asked Zaslav specifically what his plans are for the DC Cinematic Universe.
Zaslav seemed completely unfazed by Kraft’s question and it seemed he already had an answer prepared.
First he gave credit where credit is due and praised WB for their already impressive catalog of movies and TV shows, “Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group has fantastic IP and a great history, as you know, when they are turning 100. And between DC., the animation group together with the entire Warner library, our ambition is to bring Warner back and to produce great high-quality films.”
He then zeroed in on DC, “And as we look at the opportunities that we have, broadly, DC is one of the top of the list for us. We – when you look at Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, these are brands that are known everywhere in the world, the ability to drive those all over the world with great story is a big opportunity for us.
Zaslav then went on to explain his plans to copy off of the MCU, “We have done a reset. We’ve restructured the business where we’re going to focus – where there will be a team with a 10-year plan focusing just on DC. It’s very similar to the structure that Alan Horn and Bob Iger put together very effectively with Kevin Feige at Disney. We think that we could build a long-term, much stronger sustainable growth business out of DC. And as part of that, we’re going to focus on quality. We’re not going to release any film before it’s ready. We’re not going to release a film to make a quarter. We’re not going to release a film under – the focus is going to be how do we make each of these films in general as good as possible. But DC is something that we think we can make better, and we’re focused on it now.
With all the recent changes, Zaslav seems pretty psyched about what’s on the horizon for the DC Cinematic Universe,
“We have some great DC films coming up, Black Adam, Shazam and The Flash. And we are working on all of those. We’re very excited about them. We’ve seen them. We think they are terrific, and we think we can make them even better. And that’s what Mike and Pam and the team are doing and focusing on that.”
To clarify “Mike and Pam” are Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy. In the beginning of June, Toby Emmerich announced he was exiting his position as Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman and he was promptly replaced by De Luca, and Abdy, who were named co-chairs of Warner Bros. Picture Group.
The two are expected to temporarily run DC with Walter Hamada reporting directly to them until new leadership is announced. It is unknown at this time how long De Luca and Abdy will act as the temporary heads of the DC division. While at MGM, De Luca and Abdy were involved with projects including Licorice Pizza, Cyrano and House of Gucci.
Of course, we’re expecting Hamada to step down after the release of Black Adam. The Hollywood Reporter shared that he has one foot out the door after WBD decided to permanently shelve Batgirl. Much like Leslie Grace, directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, Brendan Fraser, and the rest of the cast, Hamada was shocked to hear about the canceling of Batgirl’s release from the internet, not from anyone at WBD.
Hamada has been credited with stabilizing the cinematic output at the division and bringing some quality control to a company that had suffered several critical failures such as Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Hamada brought in Marvel favorite James Gunn for The Suicide Squad and kept him around for the wildly popular spn-off Peacemaker, on HBO Max. He can also be credited for embracing the whole multiverse, allowing several iterations of characters like Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker and Robert Pattinson’s The Batman which exist outside of the DCEU.
One of the most interesting tidbits shared during Zaslav’s response is that he mentioned that he’s excited for Ezra Miller’s The Flash. After Miller’s recent legal issues and the permanent shelving of Batgirl, many fans surmised that The Flash would also be junked by WBD. Clearly, it is not. It seems that Warner Bros. Discovery is simply turning a blind eye to Miller’s violent criminal activity and accusations of grooming minors which will make promoting the film an interesting challenge for them.
We will see if that status remains after Miller was arrested on felony charges in Vermont yesterday.
Black Adam hits theaters October 21, 2022, Shazam! Fury of the Gods follows on December 21, 2022, and we expect to see The Flash in theaters on June 23, 2023.
It was also JUST announced that Lady Gaga will appear as Harley Quinn with Joaquin Phoenix reprising his role as Arthur Fleck/Joker in the upcoming musical sequel to 2019’s Academy Award-winning blockbuster hit Joker. The sequel, Joker: Folie à Deux is scheduled to hit theaters on October 4, 2024.