Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made for a fascinating case study even before it hit theaters, unusual in the degree of both rabid excitement and white-hot revulsion that promotional material provoked in its fans and detractors. Perhaps the most polarizing superhero film released to date, its public profile has only gotten stranger since it debuted to a wash of negative notices spanning from “disappointed” to “furious”; the film has simultaneously exceeded and failed to meet expectations, yielding a respectable gross (with the highest opening weekend a film released outside summer has ever seen), but falling well below expectations and declining quickly. As such, the reaction to this hit-flop at presiding studio Warner Bros. has been… curious.
With Batman v Superman as the latest blow in a rough stretch for Warners that’s included such bombs as Jupiter Ascending, Pan, We Are Your Friends, and In the Heart of the Sea, the studio now reportedly plans on releasing fewer movies and directing their attentions toward tentpole projects. The Hollywood Reporter has the full story, including suggestions that the two-part Justice League movie might receive some recalibrating, perhaps with a new producer. But overall, the greatest change is a shift in focus from star- or creator-driven projects to possible franchise-starters such as their hot Harry Potter, Lego, and DC properties. The THR piece states that Warner Bros. released 21 original-concept features in 2015, but that the key to their new strategy will be to “eschew all but a few original live-action films” in 2016 and the years to come. For those armchair executives now wondering, “Wait, isn’t blind commitment to franchise material the same bad move that got them in this whole Batman V Superman quagmire in the first place?”, CEO Kevin Tsujihara reassures you via a press rep’s statement: “Warner Bros. has historically had the biggest, most diverse slate in the motion picture industry. We did last year, we will this year, and we will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.”
But wait, there’s more! Today, Warner Bros. also announced a slew of new release dates that reflect their new “More Franchises Now Please” plan of attack. WB’s Jungle Book has now been pushed from October 2017 to October 19, 2018, perhaps to put a little more space between it and Disney’s live-action Jungle Book, which has gotten some very positive early reviews. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, has been bumped up three weeks from June 23, 2017 to June 2. But the most tantalizing projects of all must surely be Untitled DC Films 1 and 2, slated for release on October 5, 2018, and November 1, 2019. (Operating under the assumption that we will still be permitted audiovisual entertainment under Emperor Trump.) And the original Jungle Book release date of October 6, 2017 now belongs to the buzzy Untitled WB Event Film. Now who’s excited about some undefined concepts!
(Via the Hollywood Reporter)