The ascension takes place after the December departure of Jon Berg, Warner Bros.’s co-president of production who was the studio’s point man for its DC movies. Berg is now a partner at Vertigo, the production shingle run by producer Roy Lee.
Hamada will focus on Warners’ slate of upcoming films bases on superheroes and villains, as well as titles based on other characters and other stories also licensed from DC. He will work closely with Geoff Johns, the president and chief creative officer of DC Entertainment who worked side-by-side with Berg, while also drawing resources from both Warners and New Line.
Hamada is part of the duo known as “Team Genre” within the New Line corridors. With cohort Dave Neustadter, Hamada has overseen the company’s horror line, including the billion dollar-grossing and audience pleasing cinematic universe centered around the Conjuring movies. He and Neustadter also oversaw the horror phenomenon, It, based on the Stephen King novel.
“Walter is creative, resourceful, and committed to excellence, and will bring those qualities to his oversight of our superhero films,” said Emmerich in a statement. “He’s a terrific production executive and served as an executive producer on two of the summer’s most popular films, New Line’s It and Annabelle: Creation. I’m confident Walter and Geoff, working with our filmmaking partners, will deliver films that will resonate with both broad global audiences as well as DC fanboys and fangirls. Walter’s a great addition to the Warner Bros. Pictures team, and I look forward to working with him in his new post.”
You’ll note that Johns is still in the mix. While he may not be running the studio hopefully he’ll have Hamada’s ear for inside comics stuff and pancakes.
Of all the notes regarding this hire, it’s the Aquamanconnection that sticks with me the most, as it gives you a sense of who Warners is likely relying on to shepherd this franchise(s) forward. Back in May of 2016, the studio picked both Geoff Johns and Jon Berg to oversee their DC product on screen in the wake of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice taking a critical dive. Berg was seen as a close confidant of Batman actor Ben Affleck, and Johns, the Chief Creative Officer at DC Entertainment, was working with Affleck to craft a script for the Batman feature the actor/director was tapped to helm. After the critical drubbing Suicide Squad received, and Justice League‘s anemic box office performance relative to expectations, last year’s Wonder Woman served as the only real unqualified success of the DC slate. It simply wasn’t enough.
And so, with Affleck seemingly on the way out of the Batman role, Warner Bros is now, by all appearances, looking to move toward the good graces of one of their most reliable performers in Wan, while also promoting one of their more successful execs into a big leadership role.
While there are a number of DC-based movies in various stages of pre-production, Aquaman, Shazam!, and Wonder Woman 2 are all set to be released in the 2018-2019 calendar.
–Reporting by Kyle Pinion and Heidi MacDonald