The impact of Batman v Superman’s box office performance may extend well beyond the current slate of DC Comics adaptations at Warner Bros. The film was and always has been an insanely important movie for the studio, intended to properly kick off a series of interconnected DC Extended Universe superhero movies while also marking an event unto itself. But when the dust settled after a solid opening weekend, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is far from the mega-hit Warner Bros. was expecting, and a ripple effect could slightly alter the studio’s entire film release strategy.
Sources tell THR that Warner Bros. is now mulling the prospect of releasing fewer “homegrown” films (ie. developed at WB from the ground up) in favor of putting most of its focus on a trio of potential hitmakers: the DC movies, the LEGO movies, and the new Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This isn’t entirely due to Batman v Superman, as Warner Bros. also suffered a disappointing 2015 with pricey busts like Jupiter Ascending, Pan, and In the Heart of the Sea, but the hefty 69% box office drop for Batman v Superman’s second weekend signals that the film probably won’t hit $1 billion worldwide, which is a massive problem considering you have the two most iconic superheroes in history in a movie together for the very first time. The film may even be prematurely unseated from the #1 throne this weekend by the Melissa McCarthy comedy The Boss.
While some murmuring puts Zack Snyder’s involvement in Justice League in doubt, sources tell THR that Snyder is staying put (that movie is set to begin filming on Monday) while the filmmakers evaluate what went wrong with Batman v Superman and take steps to ensure the ensemble picture Justice League doesn’t suffer the same fate. The studio could enjoy a bit of a turnaround when Suicide Squad hits theaters this August, and reports have swirled that that film has already undergone reshoots to up the levity and character moments so that audiences get, well, an entertaining superhero movie.
But the fact remains that WB has suffered some notable box office disappointments over the last year, despite some of these films actually being pretty OK—I still maintain that Pan is a lot of fun, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a criminally underseen delight. While the studio maintains there’s no change in policy, sources tell THR that they might be aiming to release fewer in-house films aside from a stable of frequent filmmakers like Ben Affleck, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan, and Todd Phillips. Instead, they’ll be putting more resources into ensuring that the rest of the DC films are up to snuff and that their LEGO and Fantastic Beasts franchises are absolute successes.
The studio actually has a really promising slate coming up, with potential hits later this year in the form of The Nice Guys, The Conjuring 2, and Keanu, aside from Eastwood’s adult-oriented Sully and the aforementioned Suicide Squad (although the less said about Legend of Tarzan the better). And of course there’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. Beyond that, The LEGO Batman Movie looks terrific, Wonder Woman sounds great, and Dunkirk is a World War II action-thriller from Christopher Nolan, so that kind of sells itself. Moreover, Warner Bros. will also release Affleck’s next directorial effort Live by Night next fall and Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi blockbuster Ready Player One in March 2018, in addition to the Blade Runner sequel.
All in all, while Batman v Superman and last year’s underperformers certainly sting, Warner Bros. remains one of the most robust studios in the business, and I applaud them for backing filmmaker-oriented pics like Midnight Special and Mad Max: Fury Road. While it’s a bummer to hear they may become more franchise-focused in the near future, there’s still some solid potential in the lineup that exists, and while Batman v Superman certainly had some issues, the first step towards recover is admitting you have a problem. Here’s hoping the course correction for the rest of the DC Extended Universe pays off, because the potential in some of these DC characters is massive.
For more on Batman v Superman, peruse our recent links below:
- ‘Batman v Superman’ and the Anatomy of a Superhero Movie
- Exclusive: Producer Deborah Snyder on ‘Batman v Superman’ and the ‘Star Wars’ Easter Egg
- ‘Batman v Superman’: Zack Snyder on Darkseid and That Dream Sequence
- 5 DC Animated Films That Show ‘Batman v Superman’ How to Do ‘Justice League’ Right
- What Does ‘Batman v Superman’ Mean for ‘Captain America: Civil War’?