Op Ed: Leadership at Warner Bros. Must Change

batman-v-superman-behind-the-scenes-photo

 

By

Drew Kiess

The DC Film fan community feels like it is in mourning. Several loyalists are bemoaning the loss of a movie that could have been. Others, while liking the movie, are bemoaning a movie in a franchise they liked get hated on yet again. I am here to add another think-piece as to what I think is going on, and how to right the ship.

What follows is, in many ways, my interpretation of events. I personally believe this is how things have gone down and why a change needs to be made in Warner Bros. leadership if DC Films are to succeed.

Kevin Tsujihara took over as CEO of Warner Bros. early in the life of DC Films (formerly, and popularly, known as the DCEU), only months before the release of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, still the second-most critical success for DC Films. Man of Steel had a respectable run at the box office despite what was then perceived as a mixed reception (funny what time and perspective will give you).

Just weeks later at San Diego Comic-Con, Snyder announced that Batman would feature in the Man of Steel sequel. While my recollection of the timeline is a bit foggy, somewhere in this period of time Tsujihara began talking about the DC universe. He saw the dollar signs printed all over those $2.99 comic mags and wanted a piece of the pie the distinguished competition was scarfing down. The previous year, Marvel studios made bank with The Avengers and just a month before Man of Steel they made bank again with Iron Man 3. With Nolan’s cash-cow Batman trilogy over, it was time for DC to make a splash, in Tsujihara’s eyes.

As the movie that would eventually be known as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice developed from Man of Steel 2 into, well, Dawn of Justice, the movie was delayed to begin planning for DC’s own slate of interconnected superhero movies. For Snyder, what started as a quest to make a Superman movie, turned into something much bigger. And for those who did not share Snyder’s vision for the Man of Tomorrow, the delay was a sign of bad things to come.

Rumors and bad press dogged DC Films from that day on. Every reshoot was a sign of a trouble, every sneeze on the set was seen as an infection of the soul and potentially the downfall of Western Civilization as we know it. And then when the movie clocked in at three hours long, it was embarrassingly chopped down to size in what I can only assume was a decision made by someone who does not tell stories for a living, putting those who do in an uncomfortable position of having to trim muscle after the fat was all gone.

And then the movie was released and was critically panned, with a better version of the movie sitting quietly on a hard drive, already announced for a Blu Ray release. This failure was followed up by responding only to complaints about tone, forgetting that successful storytelling should take priority, by chopping up Suicide Squad into a manic music video, which was also critically panned.

Geoff Johns and Jon Berg’s newly acquired leadership helps lead the way to what would become DC Film’s biggest success in Wonder Woman. While rumors persisted, studio interference did not play a major role in the production of Wonder Woman, and, lo and behold, Patty Jenkins delivered a fantastic product that was loved by both fans and critics.

But the wrong lessons were learned. Over and over, the wrong lessons were learned by Tsujihara and his team. Batman v Superman was critically panned, but instead of learning to trust their directors to produce the most cohesive product, they repeat their mistake ten-fold with Suicide Squad. And then, news comes out that Tsujihara mandated that Justice League needed to clock in at two hours. Once again, he learned the wrong lessons from his failures, and apparently learned nothing from his success.

Before I continue, I want to reiterate that I actually really enjoyed Justice League. But I do have a sense of loss knowing how badly its released was botched. I do not blame any of the creative forces for whatever failings there are in Justice League. The reality is that Joss Whedon and Geoff Johns had a job, and that was to make the movie Kevin Tsujihara wanted. Tsujihara signed their checks and had something very specific that he wanted.

Leaks, negative press, and studio interference has been a common theme for Warners since Tsujihara took over. Even movies not related to DC Comics have had their share of problems. Remember The Hobbit, Edge of Tomorrow, Jupiter Ascending, Mad Max Fury Road, Pan, The Nice Guys, The Legend of Tarzan, Live by Night, King Arthur, and Blade Runner 2049, just to name a few? All of these movies suffered from production drama, budgetary limitations, studio interference, botched marketing, or under-performing box office results. All of these were under the leadership of Kevin Tsujihara. His mistakes are pervasive and repetitive.

Failure is not the act of making mistakes, but the act of not learning from them. I do not believe that every single Warner Bros. failure rests on Tsujihara’s shoulders, but he is the leader and must take the blame. DC Film’s is in a unique position for a rebirth over the next two years, with only three films on their schedule, two new franchises in Aquaman and Shazam! and Patty Jenkins’ sequel to Wonder Woman. With these franchises being new introductions, history has shown that the directors will be given a longer leash, but after the financial failing that Justice League appears to be headed for, Warners brass may be overzealous to make sure these movies are done “right”, which is never a good sign.

So, the only logical conclusion for the health of both the DC Films brand and for the brand of Warner Bros. as a whole would be for Kevin Tsujihara to be removed from his position as CEO.

The studio needs to return to its identity of filmmaker friendly and leave behind the competition greediness of the last four years of blockbuster productions. Jeff Robinov, who was replaced at Warners in the 2013 that saw Sue Kroll, Greg Silverman, and Toby Emmerich become the leadership group behind Tsujihara, should have, in my opinion, been elevated to CEO at that time. His leadership as President saw one of the most successful periods in studio history, and is rumored to be looking for an exit from his current role with Sony. If I had a vote, it would belong to him.

But, until then, I’m going to see Justice League again. What can I say? I liked it.

Advertisements

Justice League Review

original

 

 

By Chris Evans

 

The time has finally come for fans of DC comics and just comic films in general, Justice League is here! WB has been trying to get this thing off the ground for a while going back to JL:Mortal. So, how is it? Is it better than BvS? Is it as good as Wonder Woman? Does Superman finally smile? Let’s get into it without spoilers.

I liked it. A lot. It plays like an episode of Justice League Unlimited with Snyder visuals, impressive action pieces, and some Whedon jokes thrown in. It’s an interesting blend.

The characters are represented very well and each of them get their moments to shine, they are really what make the film work so I’m going to spend a little time talking about them. I think a lot of people are really going to dig Ezra Miller as the Flash and Jason Momoa as Aquaman particularly. They are both very welcomed additions and frankly the latter was a surprise. I’ve never ever been an Aquaman fan and always felt the character was borderline useless. My mind has changed. Ray Fisher is also pretty good as Cyborg, he brings emotional weight to his role despite being almost completely CGI. You’ve also got some other newcomers like J.K. Simmons as Gordon and Billy Crudup as Henry Allen, both do well enough in their short scenes. Then there’s the returning cast members who once again deliver. People worried about Affleck’s Batman being too much like Frank Miller’s shouldn’t worry, he’s more akin to the BTAS Bruce/Batman here. Gal continues to be WONDERful. I don’t want to say much about Cavill because of spoilers but it’s great to see him back and see Superman fully formed.

The story itself is paper thin which can be seen as a positive or a negative depending how you like your superhero flicks. In this case, I really didn’t mind. It’s very straight forward and to the point, not a bad thing in my opinion this time around. I believe the film’s tight running time also had something to do with it being so straight forward, they had no time to waste. The villain though? Eh. He’s okay I guess and starts off vicious enough but by the final battle it’s really clear that he’s hardly a real threat. That’s one of the films’ flaws, you don’t really get the sense that this is ever more than the team can actually handle especially with favorite boy scout around. It didn’t hurt the film too much for me but I definitely would’ve preferred a stronger villain.

Another flaw is the CGI and that’s really unfortunate for a movie of this scale. I’m not going to pick on the parademons because they’re essentially demonic bugs, I didn’t expect them to look amazing although I did like their look. This is a side note but I think they may have looked better in BvS than they do here. Back to the point though, Cyborg looks downright terrible in a lot of his scenes. There’s one particular bit toward the end where it’s so bad he looks like something out of a late 90s video game, it’s a shame when you compare him to other movies with fully CGI characters. Stepppenwolf doesn’t fare much better, I felt like his face was barely even emoting most of the time. There’s also plenty of other times where he just stands out and not in a good way. I really expected more polish but it is what it is I suppose.

The pacing and editing is an issue as well, it moves at such a pace that you can’t digest some moments because it’s quickly on the way to the next bit. There’s no breathing room. I’ve been describing JL as a ride and I believe that’s accurate for that reason. However, I feel like we are going to end up with another extended version once this film hits home and we won’t even notice these little speed bumps.

The bottom line is that Justice League isn’t going to win any awards but it’s a great time at the movies with some fantastic characters and some really awesome moments. Plus, the two end credit scenes are cinematic gold. Do. Not. Miss. Them.

Oh and….Superman smiles.

“Wonder Woman 2” Release Date Changes

 

gal-Gadot-Wonder-Woman-movie-June-2017

By Justin Shanlian

 

Warner Bros. Pictures has moved “Wonder Woman 2” up six weeks!

The Patty Jenkins directed sequel will make is theatrical premiere on November 1, 2019. This announcement comes as no big surprise as the studio positions the summers biggest blockbuster away from the sequel to “The Last Jedi.” 

December 13, 2019 was WW2 original release date, but when Colin Trevorrow was let go from Episode IX, and JJ Abrams was brought back in, Disney decided to push the release date for that film back to give the filmmakers more time.

 

 

 

Follow us on twitter @ShanlianOnBat

Follow me @BATMANShanlian

Update on “Justice League 2” and “The Batman”

 

JK-Simmons-as-Commissioner-Gordon-in-Justice-League

Justice League’s own Commissioner Gordon gave a brief update to the upcoming slate of DCEU films, particularly “Justice League 2” and the upcoming Matt Reeves directed “The Batman” in a recent interview with Total Film.

“Well, Commissioner Gordon wears a trench coat in every scene, so I don’t know that the ‘pumped up’ part is going to be all that evident, especially when you’re standing next to Batman! But this is the first Justice League movie – we hope – of a few. They’re working on scripts for The Batman and for the next Justice League movie. It introduces my incarnation of Commissioner Gordon. I don’t have a lot to do. I feel like I just dipped my toe in the water of who Commissioner Gordon will be.”

Great news for fans of the DC Extended Universe as the plans for a sequel to Justice League are signs of good things to come for this shared universe.

 

 

Source: Total Film

 

Shanlian on Batman Episode 100 wsg Mayor Robert Garcia

 

Shanlian on Batman has reached a real milestone here! This is, as the title reads, episode 100! Justin, Kyle, and Tom talk about how they feel about reaching 100 episodes and what they plan on doing in the future with the show, After that Shanlian on Batman talks with the Mayor of Long Beach California, Robert Garcia. Mayor Garcia is a huge comic book fan as well as a Zack Snyder fan. The guys talk about growing up with comics and how Batman and other DC characters helped along the way. They talk about how great it would be to get Mayor Garcia cast as the Mayor of Gotham City. Also what kind of books Mayor Garcia still keeps current with, and you will be surprised. Thank you so much for sticking with Shanlian on Batman for 100 episodes and the guys look forward to bringing you 100 more!

Episode 98 Shanlian On Batman

 

 

Episode 98 is live and on this episode we countdown our favorite Batman Animated Films.

Where does Batman: Mask of the Phantasm rank with us? What about the recent Lego Batman Movie? Was our number one animated film your number one animated film? Let us know where you ranked some of your favorite animated films. Make sure you let us know your favorite animated films and tweet them to us our send us a post on Facebook!

Sidenote* Justin Wants to personally apologize for his microphone that echoes throughout this episode. He will have all the kinks worked out for the next episodes to come! Hope you enjoy!!

 

 

@ShanlianOnBat
@BatmanShanlian
@BatmanBassSlap
@LootingKyle

www.shanlianonbatman.com