Warner Bros. Reevaluating Film Schedule After Batman v Superman Performance

According to The Hollywood Reporter, in response to the poor reviews and weaker than expected box office returns for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that Warner Bros. is looking at potentially reducing their future release schedule.  It should come as no surprise that WB expected BvS (sporting arguably the two biggest names in comics and a massive marketing campaign) to perform much better.  The hope was that with huge numbers and great word of mouth the movie would be used as a springboard to jumpstart the rest of the DC movie universe so that it would compete with Marvel’s ambitious film slate.  Now they may be pulling back and only releasing “sure things”.  Check out the full report below.

According to THR:

“After an abysmal run of expensive underperformers including Jupiter Ascending,Pan and In the Heart of the Sea, the studio launched its effort at a Marvel-style film universe with the DC Comics movie that had been touted as proof the regime installed in 2013 and headed by chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara was getting on track. But a dizzying 69 percent plunge that followed its March-record $166.1 million domestic opening ($422.5 million worldwide) means Batman is not a clear win.

Some competitors say the film may turn a profit but hardly will be the money gusher studios hope for when they pour massive resources into making a giant tentpole with a big star — with a budget in this case said to be in excess of $300 million, and Ben Affleck. “The biggest problem,” says the head of a rival studio, “is that it is not turning [DC] into Marvel. The audience has communicated, as have the critics.” One agent notes BvS likely won’t get to $1 billion despite launching the universe with “two of the most iconic characters in history.” Pointing out that Jurassic World pulled in $1.67 billion globally, he continues, “you can’t tell me Batman v. Superman is so much less valuable.”

What does this mean for the studio and their future release schedule?  It means that WB will be greenlighting fewer riskier films and “homegrown” movies and will instead focus its attention on tentpoles like DC, LEGO and Harry Potter (with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them out later this year starting a potential franchise) as well as backing directors with proven track records like Ben Affleck, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan and Todd Phillips.

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“It’s not dramatic, but it is uncharted territory for them,” he says. “They were always filmmaker-driven — that might now not be the case as much. They had a bad 18 months. How could there not be some kind of reaction to that?” Says another executive with business at the studio: “It’s a strange path to a greenlight now. It takes longer.

Specifically what does this mean for DC movies moving forward?  There’s no concrete changes as or yet and no release dates have been pulled for their previously announced films, but change is expected to come.  It might not be as dramatic as Zack Snyder (the Godfather overseeing how all the DC movies are to be interconnected) getting canned or even a producer being brought in to provide another voice in the room on his films, but the article states that the studio is evaluating what went wrong.  Speculation from other site is that some of the properties that are not as well-known (Cyborg, Green Lantern, Shazam, etc.) might get put on the back-burner until the ship gets turned in the right direction.

We’re in an interesting time of film-making where the blockbuster/tentpole film reigns supreme.  With so many blockbusters being churned out, movie-goers are less likely to attend something that’s not an “event movie”.  The mid-range big budget movies are being swallowed alive and performing poorly, while only the top-heavy blockbusters and low budget Oscar grabs are turning a profit.  A larger and larger percentage of movies each year are sequels/prequels/spinoffs/reboots/remakes to cash in on name recognition and avoid the riskier proposition of an original feature or lesser known quantity.

What do you think about the possibility of Warner Bros. altering their release schedule moving forward?


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