2022 has been a harrowing year at the box office for DC Studios, and the future doesn’t look too good, according to an industry expert. A division of Warner Bros., DC Studios was founded in 2016 as DC Films, before rebranding this year, and is dedicated to the production of movies and TV shows based on characters from DC Comics. To date, there have been multiple movies produced, and the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) division, the company’s answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has so far released 11 movies, with varying degrees of success.
Despite DC’s best efforts, 2022 has not been a good year for the company, and highly anticipated movies like Black Adam underperformed at the box office, in addition to the wholesale changes causing turmoil within the company. Indeed, industry expert Matt Belloni, former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, spoke candidly about the matter in a recent episode of his podcast, The Town. Summarizing the company’s disastrous year, Belloni called DC’s on and off-screen issues the “debacle of the year,” whilst also suggesting that the company seems to lack focus and direction. Read the full comments below:
“Alright, my debacle of the year… I’m gonna go to one division of Warner Bros. Discovery, and that is DC. And, if you look at the year that DC has had, it is quite something. I mean, putting aside that they restarted the Batman franchise in March, which was I think, given everything involved, that movie doing $770 million worldwide is a success, so put that aside. But the rest of the year is not great at DC. If you look at, first of all, they had League of Super-Pets, which came out this summer, grossed about $200 million, not a hit. They had Black Adam with the Rock, which was delayed out of summer and released in the fall, that movie cost almost $200 million and did about $390 million, which is not enough when you’re talking about DC superhero movies.
Then, they have had one after another controversy and scandal associated with the movies, everything from the Ezra Miller situation on The Flash, where it’s unclear how they are gonna handle that movie going forward, when Ezra Miller has now been charged with a crime and there’s all sorts of other stuff swirling around Ezra Miller. They had the Zaslav debacle where the Batgirl movie was cancelled after it was finished for a tax write-off, and that just enraged all the people who worked on that movie, became a narrative throughout the fall. If you look at, even, Aquaman 2, the star of that, one of the stars, Amber Heard, had her whole Johnny Depp situation that dragged Warner Bros. into it through DC. Ray Fisher, who is on Justice League, continued to make his claims of discrimination and racism against the studio.
Then, you look at the executive stuff. They brought in new leadership, with James Gunn and Peter Safran, this year, and that has been a rocky transition. Walter Hamada, who previously had the job, he knew he was out but he was a lame duck, and it was this awkward situation where they were supposedly trying to get him to stay and he didn’t stay. Then, they had this really awkward situation where Henry Cavill was shoehorned into the end of Black Adam as Superman, suggesting that he is back as Superman. The Instagram takeover he did also suggested that he was back as Superman. But then, days later, the new DC guys come in. They say, ‘You know what, we’re not gonna do that,’ and almost seven or eight weeks later, they call Henry Cavill into their office and say, ‘Yeah, you’re fired. We’re getting a new Superman.’
All of this – they got rid of the Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman 3 treatment – all of this has just been a year of chaos at DC. And some would say that it’s justified, that when you bring in new leadership, you have to clear house and start over, and they have what they say is a clear plan that they will articulate at some point. But to me, it’s the debacle of the year.”
Where Does DC Studios Go From Here?
The future is precarious for DC Studios, and the situation is perhaps worse than a lot of people realize. The studio has long come under criticism for wanting what some perceive to be MCU levels of success, but without putting in the long-term efforts it took the MCU to attain that success. This has become apparent due to the regular reboot attempts made by the studio – both a soft Suicide Squad reboot and a new Batman franchise have been released in the past five years. This has been coupled with highly-publicized contractual issues with stars, and a reshuffle at the executive level with former MCU golden boy James Gunn appointed head of DC Studios.
Many fans believe that DC Studios’ greatest chances of success lie in getting the Superman and Batman recasting righl. However, the sea change currently sweeping the company, as well as the departure of high-profile stars like Dwayne Johnson and Henry Cavill, is causing a few nerves among the DC faithful. This has been coupled with the news that Wonder Woman 3 will not be proceeding with Patty Jenkins, and Gunn has had to debunk rumors of Gal Gadot exiting the DCU. It is a crucial next few years for DC Studios, and there is very little margin for error at the box office now. The hope will be that Gunn and co-studio head Peter Safran can steady the ship, and that upcoming movies The Flash and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom can reignite DCEU at the box office, and bring in the figures that will help them compete with the MCU.
The future direction the company will take remains unclear, but one of the areas in which DC Studios has enjoyed success in the past has been with its darker and more arty projects, such as The Batman, and Oscar-winning hit The Joker. More movies of this ilk will certainly help and will capture the interest of audiences looking for comic book movies that are a little closer in tone to what they read on the page. For now, DC fans will face an anxious wait to see what other changes Gunn and Safran have in mind, but it’s clear that the DC Studios needs to reinvent itself pretty drastically to turn around its fortunes at the box office.
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Source: The Town