Warner Bros Discovery’s DC universe, streaming strategy reset

Leslie Grace attends the premiere of Warner Bros.’s “The Suicide Squad”. at The Landmark Westwood on August 2, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Axelle / bauer-griffin | Filmmagic | beautiful pictures

Discovery of Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav said he’s eyeing a “reset” of his DC cinematic universe and forming a team with a 10-year plan for the franchise, taking a page from Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe , said CEO David Zaslav.

The revelation comes two days after the company announced it would be postponing DC’s direct-to-air series “Batgirl,” surprising fans and providing a glimpse into its streaming strategy and the era of television. New meaning under Zaslav installed recently.

“We think we can build a much more sustainable and long-term growth business outside of DC,” Zaslav said during Thursday’s earnings press conference when asked about the decision to remove “Batgirl.” “And as part of that, we will focus on quality.”

While Zaslav stopped explicitly commenting on the quality of “Batgirl,” his statements suggest the film doesn’t align with the company’s new vision for Warner Bros. or DC franchise. Part of that vision is to re-establish the theatrical-only commitment to Warner Bros. movies.

“Fortunately, we’ve seen that we now have access to all the data, how streaming movies work,” says Zaslav. “And our conclusion is that streaming movies are expensive … not comparable to what happens when you launch a movie as a motion picture, in the theater.”

Zaslav take the helm of the newly merged Discovery of Warner Bros. in April and has prioritized cost-cutting measures and sought to refocus the company’s content strategy, going in a vastly different direction from former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who prioritized streaming and digital communication.

“The idea of ​​expensive movies going live, we couldn’t find an economic case for it,” said Zaslav. “We can’t find economic value for it. And so we’re making a strategic shift.”

While “Batgirl” had a more modest budget than theatrical releases — about $90 million after Covid protocols raised costs — Warner Bros. Discovery, a newly forged merger between Warner Media and Discovery, has been equipping books with room to save money. Storing the movie “Batgirl” allows the company to write off taxes as part of a broader effort to reduce the company’s overall debt.

The film completed production in March and is in the early stages of editing by director duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (“Bad Boys for Life”, “Ms Marvel”), but it will not be released. online by the service company, in theaters, or sold to another studio if the company chooses to remove the tax.

Burying the film also saves on potential marketing costs for Warner Bros. Discovery and any subsequent payments in the original filmmaking contracts that may have occurred prior to the merger.

Big-name actors are often remunerated after the film’s release based on box office scores or viewership metrics. And “Batgirl” has been associated with some big names: Michael Keaton reprises the role of Batman, JK Simmons is cast as Commissioner Jim Gordon, and Brendan Fraser is cast as the villain Firefly.

“Despite the stated explanation for the removal of ‘Batgirl’ Robert Thompson, a professor at Syracuse University and an expert on popular culture, said that regarding the shifting strategies associated with feature films being released directly on streaming platforms, This still seems to be a remarkable decision. Burn your home down right before you pay off your mortgage. “

Thompson said that the decision seemed to pass “at least some judgment” on the quality of the film, as Warner Bros. Discovery sees no future for it in an online or theatrical release.

However, with “Batgirl” in such early post-production, further editing could resolve issues with the film in time for its expected late 2022 release.

While dropping the film can make some financial decisions, it comes with a social cost. Not only were DC comics fans disappointed, but many questioned why the company had dropped the project, directed by an Afro-Latina star, Leslie Grace.

Discovery by Warner Bros. was burned because does not publicly address the ongoing allegations against “The Flash” star Ezra Miller.

The decision to cancel “Batgirl” also raises questions about the future of HBO Max’s other TV and film projects, with many social media subscribers worried that their favorite shows might have a negative impact. the next can be cut.

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