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Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav said Thursday that Discovery is looking to “reset” its DC movie universe and team up with a 10-year plan for the franchise, taking a page from Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The revelation comes two days after the company announced that it would be putting its live DC movie “Batgirl” on the shelf, surprising fans and offering a glimpse into broadcast strategy and a no-nonsense new era in the shadow of recently installed Zaslav.
“We believe we can build a long-term, much stronger, sustainable growth business out of DC,” Zaslav said during an earnings call Thursday when asked about the decision to divest Batgirl. As part of that, we will focus on quality.
While Zaslav stopped short of commenting on the quality of “Batgirl” explicitly, his comments suggest the film does not fit into the company’s new vision for Warner Bros. or a DC franchise. Part of that vision is a recommitment to Warner Bros. theatrical releases only. Movies.
“Fortunately, now with access to all the data, we’ve seen how live-streamed movies are doing,” Zaslav said. “And our conclusion is that streaming movies are very expensive…not comparable to what happens when a movie is released in motion picture, in cinemas.”
Zaslav took the lead at Warner Bros. Discovery in April prioritized cost-cutting measures and sought to refocus the company’s content strategy, taking a very different direction from former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Keeler, who prioritized broadcast and digital media.
“The idea of these expensive films going straight to streaming, we can’t find an economic argument for it,” Zaslav said. “We can’t create economic value for it. And so we’re making a strategic shift.”
While “Batgirl” has a more modest budget than its theatrical counterparts — about $90 million after the costs of Covid protocols soared — Warner Bros. Discovery, a recent merger of Warner Media and Discovery, has been combing its books for places to save money. Showing the movie “Batgirl” gives the company the possibility of a tax write-off as part of a broader effort to reduce the company’s overall debt.
The film finished production in March and was in the early stages of editing by director duo Adel Elaraby and Bilal Falah (“Bad Boys for Life”, “Ms. Marvel”), but it will not be released on the company’s live broadcast. Service, premiere in theaters or sell to another studio if the company chooses the tax cut.
Burying the movie also saves Warner Bros. Find out potential marketing costs and any back payments in original movie contracts that may be predated on the merger.
Big-name actors are often compensated after a movie is released based on box office scores or viewership metrics. And “Batgirl” had some big names attached: Michael Keaton reprise his role as Batman, J.K. Simmons cast as commissioner Jim Gordon and Brendan Fraser tapped to portray the villain Firefly.
Although the stated explanation for the cancellation of the movie “Batgirl” It’s still a great decision given how long the production is going to “burn down your house before paying off the mortgage,” said Robert Thompson, a professor at Syracuse University and a pop culture expert.
Thompson said the decision appears to be making “at least some judgment” on the quality of the film, since Warner Bros. Discovery sees no future for it in a streaming or theatrical release.
However, with Batgirl in such early stages of post-production, more editing could have addressed the film’s issues in time for its debut in late 2022.
While suspending the movie may lead to some financial decisions being made, it does come at a social cost. Fans of DC comics were not only disappointed, but many questioned why the company had to cancel a project led by Afro-Latina star, Leslie Grace.
Warner Bros. Discovery has already come under fire for not publicly addressing the ongoing allegations against The Flash star Ezra Miller.
The decision to shelve “Batgirl” has raised questions about the future of HBO Max’s other film and TV projects, with many subscribers expressing concern on social media that their favorite shows will be next in cut-off.
The DC universe of Warner Bros. is reset. Discovery, and his live streaming strategy – Digital Tech Blog
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