Warner Bros Discovery’s DC universe, streaming strategy get a reset

Leslie Grace attends Warner Bros. Premiere of “The Suicide Squad” at The Landmark Westwood on August 02, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Axelle/bauer-griffin | Filmmagic | Getty Images

Warner Bros. Discovery is eyeing a “reset” of its DC cinematic universe and organising a group with a 10-year plan for the franchise, taking a web page from Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, CEO David Zaslav stated Thursday.

The revelation comes two days after the corporate introduced it might shelve its straight-to-streaming DC movie “Batgirl,” stunning followers and providing a glimpse into the streaming strategy and new no-nonsense period underneath lately put in Zaslav.

“We think that we could build a long-term, much stronger, sustainable growth business out of DC,” Zaslav stated throughout an earnings name Thursday when requested in regards to the resolution to axe “Batgirl.” “And as part of that, we’re going to focus on quality.”

While Zaslav stopped wanting commenting on the standard of “Batgirl” explicitly, his statements recommend the movie did not match the corporate’s new imaginative and prescient for Warner Bros. or the DC franchise. Part of that imaginative and prescient is reestablishing a dedication to theatrical-only releases for Warner Bros. movies.

“We’ve seen, luckily, by having access now to all the data, how direct-to-streaming movies perform,” Zaslav stated. “And our conclusion is that expensive direct-to-streaming movies … is no comparison to what happens when you launch a film in the motion picture, in the theaters.”

Zaslav took the helm on the newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery in April and has prioritized cost-cutting measures and sought to refocus the corporate’s content material strategy, taking a vastly totally different route than former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who prioritized streaming and digital media.

“This idea of expensive films going direct to streaming, we cannot find an economic case for it,” Zaslav stated. “We can’t find an economic value for it. And so we’re making a strategic shift.”

While “Batgirl” had a extra modest price range than its theatrical counterparts — round $90 million after Covid protocols hiked prices — Warner Bros. Discovery, a newly minted merger between Warner Media and Discovery, has been combing its books for locations to save cash. Shelving the “Batgirl” movie permits the corporate to take a tax-write off as a part of a wider effort to pare down general firm debt.

The movie accomplished manufacturing in March and was within the early phases of enhancing by the directing duo of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (“Bad Boys for Life,” “Ms Marvel”), but it surely will not be launched on the corporate’s streaming service, premier in theaters or be bought to a different studio if the corporate opts for the tax write-down.

Burying the movie additionally saves Warner Bros. Discovery potential advertising and marketing prices and any back-end payouts in unique movie contracts that will have pre-dated the merger.

Big identify actors are sometimes compensated after a movie’s launch based mostly on field workplace markers or viewership metrics. And “Batgirl” had some massive names hooked up: Michael Keaton reprised his function as Batman, J.Ok. Simmons was solid as Commissioner Jim Gordon and Brendan Fraser was tapped to painting the villain Firefly.

“Although the stated explanation for the scrapping of ‘Batgirl’ concerns the changing strategies with regards to feature films being released directly to streaming platforms, this still seems to be a remarkable decision given how far along the production was,” stated Robert Thompson, a professor at Syracuse University and a popular culture professional. “Like burning down your house just before you pay off the mortgage.”

The resolution appears to go “at least some judgement” on the standard of the movie, Thompson stated, since Warner Bros. Discovery sees no future for it in both streaming or theatrical launch.

Still, with “Batgirl” in such early phases of post-production, additional enhancing might have addressed points with the movie in time for its scheduled debut in late 2022.

While shelving the film could make some monetary resolution, it comes at a social value. Not solely have been followers of DC comics disenchanted, however many questioned why the corporate had axed a mission helmed by an Afro-Latina star, Leslie Grace.

Warner Bros. Discovery was already underneath fireplace for not brazenly addressing ongoing allegations towards “The Flash” star Ezra Miller.

The resolution to shelve “Batgirl” additionally raised questions on the way forward for different HBO Max movie and tv tasks, with many subscribers taking to social media fearful that their favourite applications might be subsequent on the chopping block.


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