In 2013, Warner Bros. released not just a franchise-starter, but a brand new cinematic universe. Take that, Marvel Studios. Your MCU is so hot? Well, here’s our own thing. We’re making direct sequels, spin-offs, sequels to those spin-offs, spin-offs from other sequels. Critics are loving it. Audiences are eating it up. We’ve mastered the tonal consistency issue and ensured people don’t need to have seen every movie in our little cinematic universe to be able to enjoy the latest entry. Each new movie is standalone and any connective tissue is subtle and just there for the hardcore fans who will appreciate it.

Also in 2013, Warner Bros. released Man of Steel.

[Awkward cough]

You probably realized I wasn’t actually talking about the DCEU in that first paragraph. If not, the “Critics are loving it”/“Audiences are eating it up” part is a dead giveaway. I was actually referring to The Conjuring universe.

In one of those supremely odd coincidences of fate, The Conjuring and Man of Steel happened to come out in the same year. The former, produced by WB subsidiary New Line, launched a cinematic universe almost by accident; the other eventually tried to jam one down our throats and is now choking on its own hubris and lack of direction. However, as luck would have it one of the people most chiefly responsible for The Conjuring universe, which just launched the marketing campaign for its latest entry, The Nun, is now in charge of the DCEU.

Meet Walter Hamada.

He joined New Line 11 years, starting in the company as Senior Vice President of Production. Prior to that, he’d spent time as a manager-producer at the production company H2F Entertainment, an assistant at TrisStar, and VP of Production at Columbia.

At New Line, he managed to do the Blumhouse horror thing just with somewhat bigger budgets and much, much bigger returns. According to Deadline, “Through four movies, The Conjuring franchise (including Annabelle) has reaped $1.2 billion worldwide off combined production costs that are under $82M. It was also a huge success for New Line and WB, raking in close to $700M off a $35M production cost following a launch during the post-Labor Day dead period at the box office.”

At the start of the year, Hamada was hired as President of DC Films at Warner Bros. He, according to an insider quoted by THR, inherited a “real shitshow, and he’s trying to clean it up.”

This, of course, is simply the latest move WB has undertaken to salvage its fledgling DC universe. After Batman v Superman, longtime DC movie producer Charles Roven was Hollywood-fired meaning he gets to continue earning ceremonial credits but is effectively done. Ben Affleck was leaned on to provide more input, not as an actor but as a director. Geoff Johns and John Berg were officially put in charge, looking to become the Kevin Feige (creative head) and David Maisel (money guy) of the DC Universe.

Two years and two movies later, one a transcendent hit (Wonder Woman), the other an embarrassment (Justice League), Affleck wants out and both Johns and Berg have been demoted. Berg was actually pushed out 7 months ago. Johns, as was reported just 2 days ago, is segueing into a producing pact with the studio, meaning he still gets to work with WB on DC movies and TV shows and maybe some non-DC properties as well, but he’s not in a leadership role anymore. That job now firmly and completely belongs to Hamada. So, what he’s planning to do?

Take it easy. Develop some of the lesser-known properties. Stop over-promising by announcing 10 different release dates years into the future. Respond to what the audience actually seems to like as well as what they don’t like. And plan for life with someone other than Affleck playing Batman.

As such, the only projects with set release dates are as follows:

  • Aquaman (12/21)
  • Shazam (4/5/19 )
  • Wonder Woman 2 (11/1/19)

Wonder Woman 2 begins shooting today. In fact, there are already plot spoilers from the set.

Others film set to go into production soon include:

  • The Todd Phillips Joker movie starring Joaquin Phoenix is due to start shooting in the fall. Hamada has handed them a modest $55m budget and plans to carry the film under a still-to-be-decided new banner, either “DC Dark” or “DC Black.”
  • John Francis Daly and Jonathan Goldstein’s Flash movie is due to finally go before cameras early next year. The earlier talk of it being a dark, continuity-resetting Flashpoint tale has now given way to talk of making something more Back to the Future-inspired in tone.

Also still in development:

  • Margot Robbie’s Birds of Prey, which has a director and screenplay
  • Batgirl, which lost Joss Whedon but gained Bumblebee’s Christina Hodson as the writer
  • Matt Reeves Batman script is now said to be a third of the way finished and focuses on a “young caped crusader. THR elaborated: “While the studio would not comment, it’s unlikely that Ben Affleck, who has played Batman in three features, will again don the cowl”
  • A Jared Leto Joker movie…for some reason.

Curiously absent in the THR report is any reference to Suicide Squad 2, Green Lantern Corps, The Rock’s Black Adam, Justice League Dark, Lobo, Man of Steel 2, Deadshot, Deathstroke, or any of the various other DC properties thought to be in development.

There will be no writer’s room, though. Walter has a specific design for the universe,” says one insider familiar with his thinking. “He has a plan.” That plan doesn’t include using the same writer’s room model that’s become so popular as Hollywood looks to turn more of its films into glorified TV show episodes.

Good for him, but does the continued existence of a proposed Jared Leto Joker movie invalidate everything Hamada has done so far? Let me know in the comments.

Source: THR

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Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

11 Comments

  1. What a mess. Gonna watch that Nicholas Cage documentary about the superman film that never got made. Feel like someone flashpointed at that point causing this to happen. Now we have Trump and Suits has gone to sh*t. All stems fro mthat point. DC universe too. Oh its Smallville’s fault too for jumping the shark at the end series. Actually this is bryan singers fault. If he made Superman returns more Man of Steel rather than Daniel Steele we would have started a better universe. In fact did we even need a DC universe? Batman had held its own at that point and Man of Steele was successful. Suicide squade should never had been mae. Ok Margo Robbie was brilliant but she usually is. They could have done something with Green lantern. Yeah I know even Ryan Renaulds wants to reboot that. I saw Deadpool 2. But hey they darkened the chost rider sequel and Hellboy sequel so they could have done something better and Mark strong was pretty good as Sinestro and was all set to be the nex villain.

    Reply

    1. Yeah…that’s a pretty long list of misfires, there. Thus the idea that the new guy in charge inherited a real shit show.

      It really wasn’t that long ago that WB owned the comic book movie genre. The Dark Knight trilogy was the pinnacle of what could be done in the genre, some of us thought. Things, um, sure changed fast.

      Reply

  2. Just call me when the reboot happens.

    Reply

  3. Contrary to what a lot of people felt, I really liked Man of Steel. I liked that for once, in modern Superman (I admit I haven’t seen the Reeves ones) it gave him someone to punch. I like Cavill a lot and I really did enjoy the movie, despite flaws.

    Justice League was disappointing but only because it could have been so much more. There were some really fun parts that should have been the majority of the movie, instead of just fun memorable scenes amidst a movie that clearly was in flux throughout development.

    Wonder Woman was magnificent in everything. I don’t care about her villain, she was amazing. You can work with that.

    I think DC is in a state of ‘let’s just try all the things’ and I don’t think that’s bad. They tried racing to be Marvel and that failed because that’s not their identity. They need to be patient and take the organic approach they have on TV (which is why, love it or not, DC dominates live action TV shows on air and Marvel can’t seem to figure that out).

    I’m intrigued about the DC Dark/Black, but wary about why they’re suddenly going about-face on ‘let’s not confuse the audience with two of [CHARACTER]’. I mean, that’s why Batman / Superman were off limits for the Arrowverse for so long, right? (Excepting Superman on Supergirl, who was surprisingly terrific). Clearly they upcoming Batwoman show/character is a changing of philosophies but it took too long to get there.

    Suicide Squad bummed me out. It killed off a terrific Arrow story line and forced them to lose some terrific characters in service a really sub-par movie with terrific possibilities (not to mention a really good cast). I really hope they can find a way to make their Guardian’s of the Galaxy, because they need it.

    Lastly, I think we’ll really see how the audience likes DC with Shazam and Aquaman. Wonder Woman 1984 will do amazing, let’s be honest. But the other two will really signal if they need to use the Flash movie to reboot everything, or if they can just course correct a bit. I really hope they do. Marvel is better when there is competition, and DC has such a strong stable of characters / stories / history … they just need to get their movie act together.

    Reply

    1. I like parts of Man of Steel. The Krypton opening goes on for too long and the rock’em, sock’em Kryptonians finale is too much for my tastes, but there’s a fair bit in the middle I enjoy. The film’s one real joke – Superman bending that semi around a light pole – is genuinely funny.

      “Justice League was disappointing but only because it could have been so much more. There were some really fun parts that should have been the majority of the movie, instead of just fun memorable scenes amidst a movie that clearly was in flux throughout development.”

      Hardly a dreadful film, but hardly a good one either. It’s just so schizophrenic in tone, exactly as anything made with the warring sensibilities of Joss Whedon and Zack Snyder would be.

      “Wonder Woman was magnificent in everything. I don’t care about her villain, she was amazing. You can work with that.”

      Their crowning achievement. There’s a good reason the Teen Titans Go! to the Movies put out a teaser trailer in which everyone other than Robin wanted to dress up as Wonder Woman.

      “Suicide Squad bummed me out. It killed off a terrific Arrow story line and forced them to lose some terrific characters in service a really sub-par movie with terrific possibilities (not to mention a really good cast). I really hope they can find a way to make their Guardian’s of the Galaxy, because they need it.”

      We don’t seem to be hearing a whole lot about Suicide Squad 2 anymore. Love it or hate it, that movie damn near outgrossed the first Guardians. So, there’s certainly a financial incentive to do something more there, and for a while there was a lot of talk about it. Now, it’s more about doing a Birds of Prey/Gotham City Sirens spin-off with Harley. Personally, I’m okay with that as I’d much rather see a Harley Quinn movie than Suicide Squad 2, but it does raise the question of where SS2 is on the studio’s priority list right now.

      “Lastly, I think we’ll really see how the audience likes DC with Shazam and Aquaman. Wonder Woman 1984 will do amazing, let’s be honest. But the other two will really signal if they need to use the Flash movie to reboot everything, or if they can just course correct a bit.”

      Agreed. WW84 is a given. They don’t have to worry about it. Aquaman and Shazam will tell them far more. Aquaman is sort of the last vestige of the old guard whereas Shazam is the first thing we can truly attribute to the new boss, since it’s a New Line film and that’s where he came from.

      Also, I have to say that the Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie is getting harder and harder to ignore. Robert freakin’ De Niro is going to be in it! Granted, he kind of does everything, but along with him they’ve also added Zazie Beetz, Marc Maron, and Frances Conroy (the mom from Six Feet Under). Clearly entering newly respectable territory here with a cast like that.

      Reply

      1. I definitely agree with almost everything you said. (Not everything simply because I haven’t actually seen Teen Titans, in any form … I know, it’s on the long list).

        I’m wary of raising expectations on the Joker movie simply because cast hast not equaled excellence for DC yet. But, I’m hoping it’s good. I never want any of these movies to be bad. I’m entirely supportive of a non Jared Leto Joker movie though. (I just couldn’t quite get his take … just wasn’t there. I don’t just mean in comparison to Ledger, I just felt like it was too much and too little at the same time.).

        The real issue will be if people respond to the Phoenix Joker better than the Leto Joker (especially if he gets his own movie too). What do they do? Just go with it and swap Jokers for the Reeves Batman and beyond? (No I haven’t seen Batman Beyond … it’s on the list).

      2. Yeah, even as I wrote about the Joker cast I did think, “Then again, DC did have Amy Adams as Lois Lane and kind of lost her in the mix after a while.”

        “But, I’m hoping it’s good. I never want any of these movies to be bad. I’m entirely supportive of a non Jared Leto Joker movie though. (I just couldn’t quite get his take … just wasn’t there. I don’t just mean in comparison to Ledger, I just felt like it was too much and too little at the same time.).

        The real issue will be if people respond to the Phoenix Joker better than the Leto Joker (especially if he gets his own movie too). What do they do? Just go with it and swap Jokers for the Reeves Batman and beyond? (No I haven’t seen Batman Beyond … it’s on the list).”

        They announced a new name for the DC Universe at Comic-Con. I believe it’s now called Worlds of DC. http://www.ign.com/articles/2018/07/21/dc-finally-names-its-movie-brand-comic-con-2018 I mention that because this whole entire confusion over the Joker gets at the problem of just having a wide world of DC properties which may or may not be connected but don’t have to be. That’s contrary to the MCU model but could work if it’s handled properly and communicated clearly, such as having a separate label for standalone, darker stories and one for the main continuity films. It’s the same exact thing the actual comic book have to worry about.

        But where I draw the line is when you start having two different versions of the same character going at the same time. The Jared Leto Joker should not be getting a movie if there is a Phoenix Joker movie. One or the other. Not both. You can have multiples between film and TV. Those are two different mediums and more easily differentiated between, but when you’ve got multiples in the film universe it gets messy. Side characters, like Caliban the mutant being in both X-Men: Apocalypse and Logan within 9 months of each other and played by a different actor, are more forgivable. Iconic characters like the Joker, though, that’s just confusing.

        Luckily, indications seem to be the Phoenix movie is moving along nicely whereas the Leto one might have simply been something WB floated to him to smooth over hurt feelings without ever intending on following through with it.

        Also, yeah, NOT a fan of Leto’s Joker anyway.

      3. Can we get joe pesci and ray liota in this joker movie. Can imagine a success from that. Maybe James woods too as egghead.

      4. “Can we get joe pesci and ray liota in this joker movie.”

        Well, Scorsese is producing it, and now the thought of Joe Pesci and Liotta in a Joker movie has me thinking of this:

      5. How do ya mean i am funny? Like a clown funny? Howda ya mean i am funny? Do i amuse you? Come on.. Hes a big boy, let him answer the question. You can tell i am in usa at the moment given the real time responses to blogs at the moment.

      6. The best thing they could do with a Leto movie is play to fan theory that the joker is robin. That night make the leto movie more interesting and maybe goce some relevance to the batman vs superman movie.

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