Deadline has confirmed a major reorganization at Warner Bros regarding the approach to the still-building film series based on its DC Comics properties. Warner Bros declined comment, but sources with knowledge of the reorganization have confirmed that DC chief content officer Geoff Johns, who helped establish the brand’s presence on television, and WB EVP Jon Berg will now co-run DC Films. While DC Films has long been a production banner within Warner Bros, it will now exist as a formal division as the studio seeks a course correction after the mixed response to Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice earlier this year.
Batman V. Superman was not a flop by any measure, but the film received mixed reactions from fans and was panned by most critics. The superhero tentpole also performed slightly below expectations, grossing about $870 million since debuting March 25. Meanwhile, rival Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, which mines similar territory but is tonally very different, was a critical smash that has already made $957 million in just under three weeks. It also looks on track to break $1 billion before its first month of release is over.
However, while the WB move is a major step for the studio, it is, we’re hearing, not a reactionary one. DC Films is not being created as a clone of Marvel Studios, nor does Warners intend to copy the Marvel method of making films — which is to say, Johns and Berg won’t be occupying a role similar to Kevin Feige at Marvel. We’ve been told that the so-called “director-driven” approach Warner Bros has touted since first announcing the DC Extended Universe is very much still in effect. Johns and Berg, who will still report to their respective superiors within Warner Bros as they attend to their other duties, will be providing guidance and structure to the task of building out the DCEU. Individual directors will therefore retain control over key decisions including casting, aesthetics, and certain story elements.
That’s in keeping with recent news coming out of Warner Bros. As Deadline exclusively reported this month, Ben Affleck, who starred as Batman in BvS and was already on track to direct, co-write, and star in a stand-alone Batman film, has been made an executive producer on the now in-production Justice League film. Berg is an integral part of that growing relationship with Affleck — he worked with the actor-director on the Oscar-winning Argo, as well as Affleck’s upcoming Warner Bros crime thriller Live By Night.
There’s also this week’s news that Margo Robbie, who plays Harley Quinn in the upcoming Suicide Squad, was instrumental in the successful pitch to make a film based on DC comics’ roster of female villains and heroes.
Berg has already been heavily involved in the DC Extended Universe (WB’s answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe). He’s worked on Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League. Johns, meanwhile, brings his expertise on DC lore and history to the DCEU. A longtime comics writer, he’s behind the upcoming reboot of the DC comics universe, “Rebirth,” alongside his involvement in DC television, and he’s co-writing the stand-alone Batman film with Affleck. Both will serve as executive producers on Justice League.
The main thing, so we’re hearing, is that Warner Bros and DC have apparently been paying close attention to the reaction of fans and critics to Batman V Superman and the studio is keenly interested in being responsive as it maps out the future of the DC universe. The next films include Suicide Squad, which hits theaters in August, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017, and Justice League Part One, currently filming, scheduled for November 17 of that year. They’ll be followed by The Flash, still set for March 16, 2018 despite the exit of director Seth Grahame-Smith, and the James Wan-directed Aquaman on July 27 of that year.
Other films to come are Shazam and Justice League Part Two in 2019, and Cyborg and Green Lantern Corps in 2020.
THR first reported on these changes, which were first rumored on Heroic Hollywood.