Last week, a judge ruled to allow AT&T to acquire Warner Brothers and things behind the scenes have been moving swiftly. AT&T has already placed its former CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group, John Stankey, in charge of WarnerMedia. He replaces exiting Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.
What might wind up being one of Stankey’s biggest priorities is the DC series of films. With the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise wrapped and under pressure from shareholders, Warner Brothers banked heavily on a line of movies based on their subsidiary DC Comics. Unfortunately, WB spent way too much on these and trusted in the vision of Zack Snyder‘s whose dark style was a poor fit for an optimistic comic-based franchise.
There was a flurry of activity around the proposed DC Universe films when they were first announced, but the resulting movies have all been disappointments, with the exception of ‘Wonder Woman’. Even before the buyout, Warner was shuffling things behind the scenes to correct the course of this brand.
But interestingly, Stankey doesn’t seem worried and trusts that Warner Brothers CEO Kevin Tsujihara is moving the franchise in the right direction.
Here’s what he said:
“First of all, I think the performance [of DC movies] over the past year and a half is trending the right direction in terms of the quality of the product and how the franchise is being managed. So hats off to Kevin [Tsujihara] and the team around getting the momentum headed the right direction. Obviously, there were some public things that have occurred over the last couple of weeks [Diane Nelson and Geoff Johns, who ran DC Entertainment, both stepped down] that would indicate that some additional change is underway. My involvement in that is to make sure I support Kevin in getting the absolute best talent possible and we’ll take that franchise to the next level. That’s his set of decisions to make and his direction to go in.
“It’s my job to facilitate, to make sure he has the full support of the corporation and getting that done. And I believe, as you sit here today and we start to think about what the new value proposition is for a combined Warner Media and AT&T, we obviously want to go to creatives and talk about what we can do with our platforms now that are different than what a stand-alone Time Warner could do prior to the transaction. That’s a unique opportunity, and I want to make sure I can help Kevin sell that and get the right amount of talent in here to elevate the franchise to a new level.”
Stankey also mentioned that “Relatively speaking, the media business is not our dominant business. Our dominant business is connectivity and subscription services.”
So while big changes are taking place at Warner Brothers, especially in regard to the DC movies, it doesn’t appear that new parent company AT&T has any intention of meddling in whatever they have going on. This is great news, actually, because one of the issues plaguing the DC movies is the old “Too many cooks spoil the broth” adage. Both ‘Suicide Squad’ and ‘Justice League’ are essentially Frankenstein movies– multiple directors, editors, etc. many of whom did not communicate with one another, cobbling together disparate elements into a cinematic hodgepodge, that proved disappointing to everyone. More than anything, the DC films need strong guidance and it appears that that falls on Tsujihara.
So at least for the time being, don’t expect any additional alteration to what the DC Universe already has in store.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter