The Hollywood Reporter is reporting a change in how Warner Bros. Entertainment has begun to approach to their films, especially the management of the newly created DC Films. The studio is exerting more executive control over their content following the middling success of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
While Batman v Superman was a financial success, it was panned by critics and suffered a huge drop in audiences in the following weeks. As a result, the studio has begun a course correction of the DC Extended Universe. Suicide Squad underwent major reshoots, including changes to the third act. Seth Grahame-Smith, who was going to make his directorial debut with The Flash, left the project citing “creative differences”, according to The Hollywood Reporter back in April. The studio reportedly did not feel comfortable with first time director on such a large project.
This is part of renovation of Warner Bros. executive roles. The studio has boasted a “director-driven” mantra since beginning as opposed to the more studio involved Marvel. However, Deadline reports that directors will retain creative control while the new studio heads will be “providing guidance and structure to the task of building out the DCEU.”
Executives will now manage “genre streams” instead of a broader range of films. They then will report to Warner Bros. President Greg Silverman. For example, senior production executive Jesse Erhman will be in charge of comedy/family films. Fellow executive Niija Kuykendall will oversee action/sci-fi films. Courtenay Vilenti will manage both the Harry Potter franchise, which will continue with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in November, and Lego projects. More changes are expected, including a new hire at the senior level.
The new DC films will be co-run by Jon Berg and Geoff Johns. Berg is the current executive vice president of DC Entertainment. Johns is DC’s chief content officer. Berg will report to Silverman while Johns will report to DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. Both Berg and Johns have also been named producers on the upcoming Justice League films that are currently filming.
Berg was already working on several of DC Films’ projects, including Batman v Superman. Berg reportedly also has a close working relationship with Ben Affleck, who was recently named executive producer on Justice League and is working on his own solo Batman film.
Johns has helped launch the DC television shows with executive producer Greg Berlanti, which have found success on The CW. Johns held a press conference the day following the announcement for a new comic he wrote. He did not confirm his new role but reportedly told Vulture that “you can connect the dots.” Johns did, however, talk about the direction he hopes the company will head towards, stating he believed in pushing “hope and optimism.”
“There’s a lot of emotional underpinning of the characters and the stories,” Johns said. “It’s not that people take it for granted. They’re just not as aware of it. But when it’s not there, you really feel that emptiness.”
“I think people make a mistake when they say, ‘Superman’s not relatable because he’s so powerful,” he added. “I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? He’s a farmboy from Kansas who moves to the city and just wants to do the best he can with what he’s got.’ That’s the most relatable character in the world.”
Johns has a connection to Superman as he began his career as an assistant to director Richard Donner, who helmed the original Superman films starring Christopher Reeve. He began writing comics for DC in the late 90s. After a successful career in comics, Johns became chief creative officer in 2010.
The next film in the DC Extended Universe will be Suicide Squad, which will be released this August. This will be followed by Wonder Woman and Justice League Part One. Both are set for release in 2017.