Last week The Hollywood Reporter ran a succinct piece about Warner Bros. and its current box office woes. Behind a string of flops and under performers like Hot Pursuit, Vacation, Magic Mike XXL (it’s a classic folks), and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., WB is finishing #3 for the summer for the second year in a row—a far cry from when they ruled the roost with the Hobbit and Harry Potter. Adding insult to injury, the current Universal smash Straight Outta Compton was put into turnaround by WB when they deemed it too pricey.
On the hot seat for the doldrums, CEO Kevin Tsujihara (depicted in this amusing illo by Thomas Kuhlenbeck) and production chief Greg Silverman. To be fair they weren’t exactly handed Fabregé eggs when they took over in 2013. (The Man from U.N.C.L.E. really???), but the fall slate doesn’t look much better, anchored by Pan, which looked treacly and predictable in the Hall H preview. However help is on the way next year: A brand new Fantastic Beasts trilogy set in the Harry Potterverse and written by J.K. Rowling herself. And of course the DCU movies, which just can’t arrive fast enough. And Tsujihara knows it, as this quote shows:
He says this summer would have looked better had Warners not pushed Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice from July to March 2016. “It was a tough decision at the time because it was going to create a hole in 2015,” he says. “But it was absolutely the right decision for the franchise, for DC and the movie. Having seen the movie multiple times, and again last night, I’m extremely confident it was the right decision to make the movie better. And it’s so important for the studio to get the foundation right on DC.”
This cannot be overstated. While it’s hard to imagine the new Rowling movies not making Christmas bank (The first one opens November 2016), the DC movies are still subject to a great deal of internal fretting and fanboy/fangirl concern trolling. It will be hard for Batman v Superman to “flop” but then Man of Steel made money but you never hear that. The big big question: will Suicide Squad be the next Guardians of the Galaxy? Or the next Green Lantern. Maybe if he watches BvS a few more times, Tsujihara will know.
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.