As of this week, Warner Bros has yet another new owner: Discovery Networks. The two officially tied the knot on Monday and many of Discovery’s top execs are now controlling the WB side of things…which is a fate I’m a bit wary about. If your only experience in the entertainment business is with house-flipping shows, you might not have an immediate idea of how to handle a superhero franchise.
Today, thanks to Variety, we got the first hint of Discovery’s future strategy here. David Zaslav, CEO of the newly assembled Voltron called WB Discovery, said they want to adapt a more streamlined, “vertically integrated” DCU, dedicated to one world and led by a singular Feige-like vision…in other words, do what Marvel does. This, of course, is easier to say than to pull off. That was exactly what the previous guys tried first, and it blew up in their faces.
As Disney’s intricate world led by the Avengers grew to dominance, WB had dreams of turning the bleak, depressing Snyderverse into a rival franchise. But after a series of declining box office numbers culminating in Joss Whedon’s wet hairball of a Justice League movie, WB’s previous managers were forced to use Plan B, which was to just let various directors do whatever, and see which continuity moviegoers would prefer.
This strategy hasn’t brought immediate success, but it’s getting there. WB is finally producing DC content that people will talk about. If we were forced to stick with Suicide Squad, we wouldn’t have THE Suicide Squad, vaguely tied to the original but a much better film. The current state of DC media may be a mess, but at least we’re getting good material out of it.
As hard as it’s going to be to find a specific vision for the DCU at this stage and nail it, the hardest part is going to be finding another Feige. Variety’s sources say they were looking at Emma Watts, former Paramount exec, but she has declined the position. Weirdly they have cited Todd Phillips “Joker” movie as a “shining example of how second-billed characters from the DC library can and should be exploited,” even though that movie is decidedly its own story with no tie-ins to anything else.
In the immediate future, not much may noticeably change as a lot of DC projects for the next two years are completely locked into the schedule, such as Aquaman 2, Shazam 2 and others….not to mention the fact that we JUST NOW got a new Batman.