More upheaval over at DC Entertainment as Geoff Johns is stepping down as president and CCO, THR reports. Co-publisher Jim Lee will take the role of CCO while continuing as co-publisher.
Johns, who has been instrumental in developing DC’s hugely successful TV slate and not as successful movie slate, will move to his own production shingle, Mad Ghost, that will produce content for TV, films and comics. And he ALSO gets his own comics pop-up imprint with the rather non-optimistic title Killing Zone. Focuing more on cretive pursuits, he’ll write a Shazam title as well as more Green Lantern stuff and Three Jokers, a mini with artist Jason Fabok. A lot of comics coming from Johns then.
The move come a few days after Diane Nelson stepped down as head of DC in her WB VP role. Thomas Gewecke remains interim head.
And it’s all a day before the decision in the anti-trust suit against the ATT/WB merger is announced.
So, in other words, total upheaval.
In Deadline’s reporting, it’s mentioned that “Johns and Nelson clashed loudly, sources said.” I’m hearing that while Johns and Nelson once worked side by side on reimagining DC Entertainment, a rift grew over the last year or so. It all happened after the Justice League disaster, whether that had anything to do with it or not.
And “Mad Ghost” – nothing symbolic there.
At any rate, film exec Walter Hamada, who oversees what’s left of DC Fims, now has a pretty much clean slate to revamp the plan to challenge Marvel. And as we reported just this morning, it sure needs a revamping, with a chaotic jumble of movies being announced, cancelled and rethought on a monthly basis.
Johns will co-write the upcoming Wonder Woman 2, a sequel to the film that was really the bright shining light in all of this. He’ll also have a production credit on Aquaman which comes out in December.
Some salient quotes from the excellent reporting by Borys Kit:
Johns now goes from the executive ranks back to the creative world, a world which he never truly left. Even as he was promoted to DC Entertainment president in 2016, and retained the title of chief creative officer, which he had held since 2010, he continued to pen some of DC’s biggest books. And, more impactfullly, he was key in launching the TV empire based on DC’s heroes, co-developing The CW’s most successful superhero show, The Flash, and with Peter Roth and WBTV, launching Supergirl and Black Lightning, and many others.
“I took on a role at DCE because I love the characters and this universe more than anything. But, I want to spend my days writing and on set. I’m thrilled to get back to a more hands-on creative role. It’s a dream job on dream projects, reaching even deeper into DC’s vast pantheon of characters,” said Johns in a statement.
“Geoff is a super talented writer and truly embedded in the DC Universe and its characters,” stated Emmerich. “We’re thrilled that he’s returning to his passion and his roots as a writer and producer. And, it’s even better that he’s staying in our Warner Bros. family. We look forward to working with him on ‘Green Lantern’ and other projects going forward.”
“Geoff is one of DC Comics’ most prolific writers, and we can’t wait to see what he does next now that he will be dedicating 100 percent of his time to telling the best DC stories possible across all media,” stated DiDio and Lee.
We can’t wait to see what anyone does now, too! Pass the popcorn!
UPDATE: ANd here’s the official pr from DC:
Geoff Johns is launching Mad Ghost Productions and is entering into an exclusive writer/producer deal with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment to create content across multiple divisions of the Studio, including films, television and comic books, based on current DC properties as well as new and reimagined IP. As part of this deal, he will segue from his executive post as President and Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment to focus on creative matters full-time. DC Entertainment Publisher Jim Lee will expand his role to include the Chief Creative Officer title and responsibilities, and will continue to act as Publisher together with Dan DiDio as they have since 2010. These announcements were made today by Thomas Gewecke, Chief Digital Officer and Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, who is serving as DC’s interim head.
Under this new deal, one of Johns’ first film projects will be Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Green Lantern Corps,” based on his New York Times bestselling series that saw an impressive nine-year run, spawning additional spin-off titles and comic book events. Johns will write and be a producer on the film. Additionally, he co-wrote and executive produced “Aquaman,” which releases worldwide December 21, and is writing and executive producing the second installment of the “Wonder Woman” franchise with director Patty Jenkins, releasing in November 2019. New Line’s “Shazam!,” slated for an April 2019 release, is based on his original graphic novel.
On the television side, Johns co-developed and is executive producer and writer on the first original series for the upcoming DC Universe digital service, “Titans,” with Akiva Goldsman and Greg Berlanti. Johns also wrote the “Titans” episode “Doom Patrol” that is spinning off into its own 13-episode original series for the digital service. He is executive producing alongside Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Jeremy Carver. He has also been crucial in helping build the DC television empire and co-developed The CW’s most successful superhero show, “The Flash.” Alongside Peter Roth and WBTV, he has helped launch over a dozen additional hit television series such as “Arrow,” “Gotham,” “iZombie,” “Supergirl” and “Black Lightning,” among others.
His publishing projects will include a new pop-up slate of comic books under the banner of “The Killing Zone” focusing on new and lesser known DC characters and titles. Johns will also be writing a Shazam! comic book series scheduled to be out in the fall. In addition, he will continue to write the commercial and critical hit “Doomsday Clock,” a comic book series illustrated by Gary Frank that collides the DC universe with the Watchmen universe, as well as the upcoming “Three Jokers,” illustrated by Jason Fabok.
“Geoff is a super talented writer and truly embedded in the DC Universe and its characters,” said Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “We’re thrilled that he’s returning to his passion and his roots as a writer and producer. And, it’s even better that he’s staying in our Warner Bros. family. We look forward to working with him on ‘Green Lantern’ and other projects going forward.”
“Geoff is one of DC Comics’ most prolific writers, and we can’t wait to see what he does next now that he will be dedicating 100 percent of his time to telling the best DC stories possible across all media,” said DiDio and Lee. “The new publishing projects we are working on together will be instant fan-favorites.”
“I took on a role at DCE because I love the characters and this universe more than anything. But, I want to spend my days writing and on set. I’m thrilled to get back to a more hands-on creative role. It’s a dream job on dream projects, reaching even deeper into DC’s vast pantheon of characters,” said Johns. “I’m also excited to continue to work with the amazing team at DCE and my colleagues at Warner Bros.”
As one of the most successful comic book writers of his time, Johns has built his career on re-inventing dormant characters to commercial and critical successes as seen with “Green Lantern,” “Aquaman,” “Teen Titans,” “The Flash” and “Shazam!”, among others. His gravitation toward lower-level characters with unexplored and untapped potential has led to Johns currently holding the No. 3 spot on the 100 most prolific DC comics writers list next to comic book legends Robert Kanigher and Gardner Fox.
Johns’ impressive career history dates back to his beginning as an assistant to filmmaker Richard Donner. He established himself as a successful writer and rode the ranks to become President and CCO of DC Entertainment while simultaneously creating some of today’s most popular film, television and comic series.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.