A major blockbuster movie just lost its director. A couple of weeks ago it was Deadpool 2 losing Tim Miller due to creative differences with star Ryan Reynolds. This week it’s Rick Famuyiwa dropping out of The Flash over, what else, creative differences with the studio, according to THR.
Hey, these things happen. Famuyiwa’s not even the first person to drop out of The Flash. He was actually Seth Grahame-Smith’s replacement. On top of that, Grahame-Smith only got the job after writing/directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller, WB’s preferred choice, were too busy to do anything other than contribute a story treatment.
But Famuyiwa most recent film, Dope, and casting choices (e.g., Kiersey Clemons as Iris West) seemed promising, and he’d been building up anticipation for his Flash through both traditional and social media for months. Plus, getting back to Deadpool for a moment, Tim Miller is almost as responsible for that film’s success as Ryan Reynolds, and all the “inside sources tell us” hub-bub about their being a rift between the two over casting and tone on the sequel, Miller wanting a more bombastic, visually inventive film, Reynolds wanting a funnier, raunchier comedy, begs the question of why Deadpool 2 couldn’t simply be both of those things.
Because the first film made money and with success inevitably comes inflated egos, demands for more money, increasing oversight from the people signing the checks and fundamental differences of opinion over what made the film a success to begin with. With under-the-radar films like this which come out of nowhere to make more money than God the people closest to it usually have no idea how they pulled it off. It just happened to be the right movie at the right time with the right marketing campaign. But then you forever lose the freedom you once had to make the little movie you wanted to while the studio was looking the other way. On the sequel, there are so many voices chatting in your ear you can barely sort them out.
Wait. Isn’t this article supposed to be about The Flash, not Deadpool? And what do you mean the studio was “looking the other way” on Deadpool? They were watching them like a hawk, forcing progressively steeper budget cuts throughout production. You even wrote a big article about that.
Yeah, but Deadpool was never as big of a concern to Fox as X-Men: Apocalypse because of the differing budgets and box office expectations. It’s completely different for Deadpool 2. You’re right, though. This is supposed to be about The Flash, but, frankly, Collider summed it perfectly:
I think it’s fair to say at this point that it’s hard to sell a vision to the studio when the studio doesn’t have a clear idea of what its vision for its movies should be. Justice League is recalibarating to be more lighthearted after audiences rejected the deathly serious Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad was a total mishmash of views including one from the company that cut the trailer for the movie. While Geoff Johns has been brought into the fold to right the ship, it’s possible that what Famuyiwa was selling back in June is no longer what Warner Bros. wants to buy in October.
This is far from unusual. Loving‘s Jeff Nichols was going to direct Aquaman for about a minute, but he walked, replaced by James Wan. Guillermo del Toro’s Justice League Dark is now Doug Liman’s Justice League Dark. This isn’t necessarily just a WB thing, though. Jon Favreau quit the Iron Man movies, at least as director, due to behind the scenes meddling on Iron Man 2. Patty Jenkins was fired from Thor: The Dark World. After Avengers: Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon couldn’t get away from the Marvel machine fast enough.
Sure, but isn’t all of that just Hollywood business as usual, with directors floating from one project to another like nomads and moving right along to something else if a development period takes too long? Is the only thing that’s changed here our general awareness of this age-old Hollywood tradition?
Perhaps, but movies cost more to make and market than ever before, have more competition from other sources of entertainment than ever before and are more reliant on reaching a global audience than ever before. There is simply too much at stake to invite unwanted risk, and often times that means walking away from more auteur-like directors and embracing the young, cheap ones who will simply bring the project in on time and under budget. It’s only at the places where the people in charge actually have a creative vision of their own that interesting choices for director are made, such as just about every other Marvel Studios hire and all of the LucasFilms hires thus far. Maybe Famuyiwa’s problem was that he had an actual unique vision for the film and not just a board room-pleasing budget breakdown, or maybe Collider is right and his vision simply no longer gels with what WB thinks it wants from these DC movies.
Fine. Whatever. Like you’d actually know, Mr. “I’ve-Never-Actually-Made-a-Movie-Before.” You didn’t even really love Dope as much as everyone else.
Plus, why do we even care about The Flash? There’s already a TV show. It may be as hokey as fuck, but it’s also persistently endearing. Barry Allen’s costume is at least less Power Rangers-esque than whatever the heck Ezra Miller is rocking in that Justice League trailer.