Just as Disney/Marvel is moving ahead with its men-in-tights plans, so is Warner/DC...
DC Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer, Geoff Johns recently spoke to Newsarama about the future of Warner's comic book properties and while he couldn't/wouldn't say that these projects were greenlit, he did stress the ones that he'd like to see. Since he caries a lot of weight in what happens there you can bet much of this has a good chance of actually coming true. Here are some of what he'd like to see:
Wonder Woman - Princess Diana of Amazon Island, has been the subject of a comic, the "Super Friends" animated series, William Dozier's attempted 60's series that was/would have been disastrous, a 70's television series and numerous other merchandising efforts, but a theatrical release has long evaded her. Even Joss Whedon's resume and script were not enough to get her off the ground and into theaters apparently. Johns thinks that's about to change and Diane Nelson and the others at DCE seemed determined to bring her into the modern reality. For anyone that has never heard of this character (really?), she's princess from a tall race of Amazon women sent from her hidden island paradise to the world of man to basically, save man from himself. Go, girl power! I am curious to find out what talent gets attached to this because it'll not only show us they're serious, but exactly what kind of direction they're headed.
Blue Beetle - Not, the Ted Kord version, which is my favorite (and the inspiration for Daniel Dreiberg/Nite Owl), but the Jaime Reyes version that is the most different and recent. For the many that haven't heard of this title, Reyes is a young teen in Texas that finds a blue beetle scarab that happens to be an ancient technological instrument of war. He takes it home and while asleep, the devise connects or fuses itself to his back. The scarab is actually an alien tool of battle that works with and against Reyes to give him access to incredible powers.
Sleeper - The comic book series written by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips about an undercover agent placed in a secret organization. That agent happens to have had contact with an alien artifact that allows him to feel no pain and actually store up that pain to pass on to others. He rises within the organization, trapped by its power and continually working to destroy it. Along the way he falls for member of the organization and it only complicates matters. Think of this as a "The Departed" meets "The X-Files" that would make an amazing movie if done right. It's been in Development Hell for Tom Cruise for quite some time.
Suicide Squad - Think of this as a superhero version of the "A-Team." A group of former/current(?) villains were sent by government operatives to take care of a mission that was perceived to be suicidal... hence the name Suicide Squad. The story involves government intrigue, espionage, back stabbing and infighting as well as saving the nation they fought against from destruction. Given the right writer and director, this could be a fun action film, sans the cheesy costumes of course (A prime example being the characters in The X-Men films).
100 Bullets - Johns mentioned trying to get a version of this limited series comic to the screen. For those that don't remember, this is one of the titles I mentioned the Mouse should try and make in my "Without Tights" post pre-MA*. The comic series, written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Eduardo Risso was published under the Vertigo imprint and is a tale of revenge and possible redemption. Each story has an agent show up to some aggrieved person to present them with a gun and 100 bullets that are totally untraceable, with this weapon they will be able to get away without anyone knowing that they killed the person responsible for their predicament. The events play out on a larger canvas as the story unfolds and becomes more complex. This would make an excellent television series if done correctly.
He also mentioned a couple of projects that are now considered a given (Batman #7/3, Man of Steel, Green Lantern and a likely Flash). These are projects I'm sure you'll be hearing more about in the future, say around Comic-Con 2010?
Interesting things are ahead in the very, near present I'd say...
There will be an organizational announcement next week, then in about a month Warner Bros. will unveil a spread sheet detailing how the various superheroes will be reintroduced to consumers, and on more than just feature film platforms.
BuckyO'harre wrote:DC to play bigger role at Warner Bros.There will be an organizational announcement next week, then in about a month Warner Bros. will unveil a spread sheet detailing how the various superheroes will be reintroduced to consumers, and on more than just feature film platforms.
CBR News has heard from many people close to DC that the idea of an LA move, while speculated for months, has seen increased chatter in the past week. Aside from the considerations surrounding a dedicated staff of New Yorkers who have worked to make DC's comics for years, the publisher has a number of important relationships and responsibilities tied to the East Coast, not the least of which is their crucial book store distribution agreement with New York publishing giant Random House and the office space currently used at 1700 Broadway. All of these considerations would come under scrutiny in regards to a move whether the entire publishing unit or only parts of the company from editorial to sales to production might be headed out West.
"People make an assumption that we're going to mirror Marvel's strategy, for example with Avengers," Nelson told us. "We do have a very different attitude about how you build a content slate. And it isn't necessarily about connecting those properties together to build into a single thing. We think we've got great stories and characters that will lend themselves to great standalone experiences, and that's the way we're focusing on it."
BuckyO'harre wrote:DC to play bigger role at Warner Bros.There will be an organizational announcement next week, then in about a month Warner Bros. will unveil a spread sheet detailing how the various superheroes will be reintroduced to consumers, and on more than just feature film platforms.
Georg Szalai wrote:
NEW YORK -- Warner Bros. is likely to release one or two DC Entertainment superhero movies a year to help pick up the slack after the Harry Potter franchise comes to an end, DC chief creative officer Geoff Johns said Friday.
Asked at a crowded session at New York Comic-Con about how many post-Potter DC tentpoles fans should expect, the fanboy-favorite writer said: "You will see at least one, I'd expect two a year."
He didn't mention a specific start time for this release strategy.
Warner executives have previously signalled that the recent DC reorganization will help it better mine the company's catalog of superheroes in the post-Potter age.
Johns on Friday also told the fanboys and -girls that "Green Lantern" is in post-production, and a trailer for the movie will be part of the upcoming "Harry Potter" release.
Johns, who was warmly and fondly received by the crowd, answered questions without discussing or confirming specific superhero film plans beyond the upcoming June release of "Green Lantern" and announced new Batman and Superman films.
For example, asked if he could confirm that "Green Lantern" is planned as a film trilogy, he replied, "Can't comment."
And asked if he could confirm an expected "Flash" movie that hasn't been formally announced, Johns said he couldn't discuss that. He summarized that "there is a ton of stuff we've talked about," and added he expects announcements "very, very soon."
Borys Kit wrote:If Summit’s new action movie, starring seasoned performers Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich, scores with audiences this weekend, Warners likely will be seeing “RED.”
That’s because the studio repeatedly passed on the project, which was developed from a DC Comics title.
Tracking suggests that “RED” will post a solid opening — in the low- to mid-$20 million range. The movie had its first test screening prior to Comic-Con, which it passed with flying colors.
And after the success of “The Expendables,” which has grossed $248 million worldwide, an action movie with a cast of older performers doesn’t look like quite as much as a long shot.
But even before its Friday opening, “RED” carries with it a singular distinction: It is the first movie based on a DC Comics title that was not made by DC sister company Warners. And now that Warners has made moves to envelop DC and exploit the film potential of DC’s library more aggressively by creating DC Entertainment, it’s likely to be the last one as well.
What makes it even more interesting is that at almost every stage of development, Summit and the producers invited Warners to get involved.
“RED” began life as a comic from writer Warren Ellis and artist Cully Hamner that was published in late 2003 by DC’s Wildstorm imprint, which folded last week. The comic, which was creator-owned, piqued the interest of Gregory Noveck, who had just been appointed by then-DC president Paul Levitz to act as DC’s man in Hollywood. (Noveck left the company two months ago.)
While working on trying to shepherd other titles — mainly from the publisher’s superhero line — to the screen, Noveck began talking to Warners’ on-the-lot producers and writers, trying to generate interest in “RED.” Some execs liked the three-issue comic, which told of a retired CIA agent who gets marked for termination, but they didn’t exactly see a big movie in it.
So Warners passed.
It was then that Ellis and Hamner exercised their right to extricate the property. That, of course, was easier said than done. Part of the process involved having all of Warner’s divisions, including TV, review the property’s potential before it could be given its get-out-of-jail card. It took years, but in 2008, thanks to Noveck’s persistence, “RED” was given the key to drive the project off the lot.
Mark Vahradian at Di Bonaventura Prods. had been aware of the comic and, along with the company’s David Ready, brought the project into the shingle. They reached out to writers Erich and Jon Hoeber, with whom Noveck had worked on a TV pilot that went nowhere at Silver Pictures, and began expanding the tale into one that encompassed the ideas of pitting older characters, considered past their prime, against younger ones. They introduced a colorful supporting cast, giving the project a more action-oriented “Ocean’s Eleven” feel.
The writers and producers spit-shined the heck out of a pitch and took it out around town — DreamWorks, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warners were all pitched — in May and June 2008.
Warners passed again.
The one company that made an offer was Summit, at that time an up-and-coming production company that was still five months away from releasing “Twilight.” Summit was particularly interested in having DC’s participation in order to use its logo and brand to help promote the movie.
At Summit, “RED” developed more momentum: The script came in, and the studio liked it. In spring 2009, Willis became attached, and director Robert Schwentke came aboard soon after.
At almost every step along the way, Summit showed the project to Warners, hoping that the bigger studio might come in as a partner because Summit was looking to mitigate financial risk. “RED” ultimately cost $58 million to produce (a number that figures in tax incentives), and it was shaping up as Summit’s most expensive movie to date.
But even when the movie had assembled more of its cast, including Freeman, Warners still passed. Execs at the Burbank studio simply felt that “RED” was “too small” to serve as a Warner Bros. movie. One insider said Warners was more interested in the bigger DC properties, especially when “The Dark Knight” rang up a billion dollars worldwide; anything that didn’t measure up to that potential was considered low priority.
According to insiders, the failed “Jonah Hex” movie, which came on the heels of tepid comic adaptation “The Losers,” will be the last one made with one of the lesser-known, nonsuperpowered characters in the DC library for a long time.
Warners’ focus now is making sure “Green Lantern” launches a franchise and that “Flash” is queued up, eventually paving the way for an all-star “Justice League” movie in the same way Marvel has teed up its “Avengers” movie.
But if Summit enjoys success with “RED,” Warners still could have second thoughts.
“They will say they don’t care” about the movie, said one exec, “but the reality is if this movie works, you will never see a DC title go out the door again.”
Sharon Waxman wrote:Though a formal change of power is still six months away, Warner Bros. studio is already in full transition mode, with the outlines of a new strategy emerging from the fading days of the Alan Horn era.
Jeff Robinov, poised to become co-president of the media conglomerate, along with Kevin Tsujihara and Bruce Rosenblum, has been busy meeting with the broad swath of executives who will soon be reporting to him as the full-on head of the movie studio.
Meanwhile, Horn remains in limbo, cut from a team where he was long the leader. Few believe he will stay actively in his position at the studio beyond Febuary or so.
In preparation for his new role, Robinov (pictured with "Due Date" director Todd Phillips) has been sketching the outlines of a new strategy that involves producing fewer movies overall and more tentpoles annually, according to people familiar with his thinking.
That is what most of the major studios have been doing over the past few years, but Robinov wants Warner's to pursue that path even more decisively.
His preference would be to churn out eight blockbuster franchise pictures a year, a notable increase from the current output of four to six. One or two of those would be expected to come out of DC Comics, the comic-book division that has been gearing up for this purpose.
“This makes more economic sense,” explained one knowledgeable executive who declined to speak on the record. “You can make better talent deals on bigger movies, which leaves more upside on the back end.”
Presuming Warner's Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer plans to support his executive of choice, Warner’s will become the central locomotive of the industry’s blockbuster factory, moving further away from mid-level budgeted movies in the $30-$70 million range. Fewer “Hereafters” or even “Hangovers.”
And, one supposes, no more “Million Dollar Babys.”
In preparation for the shift, Warner’s has been putting its shoulder behind DC Comics, led by Diane Nelson. The division has moved most of its executives from New York to Burbank, where they are tasked with developing not just franchises like “Superman” and “Green Lantern” but new monetization strategies for these titles, particularly online.
WB is already well-stocked with franchises. Its deal with DC Comics will lead to Christopher Nolan's highly anticipated "The Dark Knight Rises," Zack Snyder's untitled "Superman" movie and Martin Campbell's upcoming "Green Lantern," which stars Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively.
But to succeed at this presumes a whole lot of intellectual property, and the audience to consume it. This is also a particularly daunting challenge with the reliable "Harry Potter" on its way out.
Still, from a business standpoint it's hard to argue with this strategy.
Warners has become the expert in producing, marketing and fully monetizing big properties.
And the studio has learned that economically it is advantageous to pay more money up front for talent like Leonardo DiCaprio, and take more profit from the back end.
Meyer has not yet signed off on this direction shift, which will mean dedicating more Time Warner capital to movie production, but presumably he will do so to support his new leader of choice.
Jeff Sneider wrote:Warner Bros. already has a dozen franchises to drive blockbuster business at the box office. But where could the studio turn to for even more sequels? Let's take a peek, shall we?
The biggest hope lies in the studio's lucrative relationship with DC Comics, which is responsible for superhero-based tentpoles focused on Batman, Superman and the Green Lantern. The writers of the latter film are currently developing a feature around the Flash, which also could have legs.
Then there's Wonder Woman, which the studio is also looking to crack development on. The project should probably be a higher priority for WB, but perhaps it's simply waiting for the right actress to come along. Or maybe it's still gun-shy from 2004's much-lamented "Catwoman" starring Halle Berry.
The one recent Warner Bros. success that execs are still kicking around the idea of a prequel/sequel for is "I Am Legend," though the timing may be an issue considering Will Smith's busy schedule.
As for the studio's upcoming movies that could merit sequels, there are three distinctly different possibilities.
First, there's the Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner remake of "Arthur," the 1981 Dudley Moore comedy, which itself spawned the 1988 sequel "Arthur 2: On the Rocks." Scheduled for next year, if it hits with audiences, it's possible that Brand could reprise his wild-child antics in a sequel.
On the animated side, there's "Yogi Bear" opening in December. With Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake lending their voices. it's well-positioned to be this year's "Alvin and the Chipmunks," which means sequels are surely on the horizon.
Finally, Bryan Singer is in the midst of casting a leading man for "Jack the Giant Killer," which fashions an action film from the venerable fable. Don't be surprised if the script leaves the door open for a sequel.
Aside from the aforementioned DC properties, Warners has high hopes for Doug Liman's futuristic action film "All You Need Is Kill," which could lead to sequels down the road if the original is done right. And the studio recently purchased the rights to Ernie Cline's upcoming book "Ready Player One," which has major franchise potential if the studio decides to get serious about bringing it to the big screen.
Off the lot, Warner Bros.' partner Legendary Pictures is developing a new take on "Godzilla," although it's unclear how far along that project is, while WB-based producer Dan Lin continues to develop a "Thundercats" movie.
Other projects in development that could get the franchise treatment include a movie set in the the mythical land of Oz, a big screen take on "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," a remake of "Logan's Run," the Robert Downey Jr. vehicle "Yucatan" and the Lionel Wigram-produced "Three Musketeers," although none of those projects currently have that much heat at the studio, which is also still considering remaking the acclaimed "Red Riding Trilogy" that was released in U.S. theaters earlier this year.
Of course, there are plenty of franchise sequels that you won't be seeing anytime soon.
For years, the blogosphere has buzzed with rumors about a sequel to Best Picture winner "The Departed," but don't hold your breath. Mark Wahlberg was practically the only cast member allowed to survive the final reel, and while the original Hong Kong drama "Infernal Affairs," spawned a prequel and a sequel, "The Departed" story has been successfully told, with little left to add.
Likewise, don't hold out hope for another "Sex and the City." It looks as though the fabulous foursome has sipped one too many expensive cocktails, and Warners has no plans to revisit the female-driven franchise, which saw diminishing box office returns earlier this year. Similarly, "Nancy Drew" failed to create much heat, even with rising star Emma Roberts as the teen sleuth.
As for "Tomb Raider," Warners no longer has the rights, so if Lara Croft does find another feature film adventure, it probably won't be released by the Burbank studio.
Speaking of problems with rights, the lucrative "Terminator" series is tangled in complex legal issues, so don't expect Sarah Connor or her son to return to theaters for the foreseeable future.
Finally, the long-gestating comic book adaptation "Shazam!" is said to be pretty much dead at the moment, while "Gilligan's Island" is not expected to get made anytime soon.
With the teen sorcerer's saga ending, the studio taps its DC comic book stable
Michael White wrote:Replacing Harry and his pals at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry won't be easy. "I don't think there's one obvious successor," says David Bank, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. "If I were looking for it somewhere, it's the DC catalog."
DC Comics Projects
Time Warner, which has owned DC Comics since 1969, made the unit part of its film division last year in a move that highlighted the importance of the characters for future films. "We're doing our best to get the DC properties lined up like airplanes taking off from the runway," Horn says. Several projects based on DC Comics superheroes are under way. In June 2011, Warner will release its Green Lantern movie, which stars Ryan Reynolds as a test pilot with superpowers. The studio is also developing a Superman film, more Batman installments, and movies based on vintage action heroes Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Arrow, and Aquaman, Horn says. Not every DC entry has been a hit. Jonah Hex, starring Josh Brolin as a bounty hunter in the Old West, took in just $10.9 million worldwide last summer. It cost $47 million to make, says Box Office Mojo.
Paul Young wrote:I spoke with a source at Warner Bros. and they are indeed planning an Aquaman film… but it’s certainly not going to be released in 2013. In fact, they are looking at a release date closer to 2015 or 2016 if everything goes according to plan. Warner Bros. will team up with Leo DiCaprio’s production studio Appian Way (Red Riding Hood, Shutter Island) to make the underwater film a reality.
Dave McNary wrote:Warner Bros. has promoted veteran exec Amit Desai to the newly created post of senior VP of franchise management for DC Entertainment.
Move, announced Friday, is the latest in Warner's efforts to turn the DC comicbook brand -- and its massive library of iconic superheroes -- into a major player for the studio.
Desai, who's been working at Warner Home Video, will develop and implement the individual franchise plans for Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and The Flash along with Mad Magazine, Vertigo titles and other DC properties. "This will include driving wider cross-promotional support across all Time Warner divisions," the announcement noted.
Warner took over control of DC Comics and renamed it DC Entertainment in September 2009 as a way to better exploit its stable of properties across various platforms from movies and TV shows to videogames and mobile offerings. It announced three months ago that it was moving much of the company from Gotham to studio headquarters in Burbank.
Desai will be based in Burbank and report to John Rood, exec VP of sales, marketing and business development.
"Amit is coming to DC Entertainment with a proven track record in building brands both inside and outside Warner Bros.," said Rood. "That he's already well-versed in our characters and brands from his experience working on the DC Universe animation business is an added bonus."
Desai joined Warners in 2004 and is credited with growing non-theatrical family and animation homevideo revenue by 45%. He oversaw the launch of new franchises such as DC Universe, a series of animated original movies inspired by DC Comics graphic novels.
Prior to joining Warner Bros., Desai worked for Disney in brand management and marketing/synergy activities for feature films.
Warner Bros. is prepping "Green Lantern," with Ryan Reynolds starring as the ringed hero, for release next summer, and it's already dated the next Batman pic, to be directed by Nolan, for release on July 20, 2012. Two films based on DC properties -- "Jonah Hex" and "The Losers" -- underperformed earlier this year.
NIKKI FINKE wrote:Silicon Valley venture capitalist and uber-investor Jim Breyer of Accel Partners was busy inking a $40 million investment in Thomas Tull's Legendary Pictures on the day that Forbes magazine recently interviewed him. The news had not previously been disclosed until the issue came out today. But I've learned that this is not a straight investment: instead, Breyer purchased the shares from a previous Legendary investor whose identity is being kept secret. Through this, Breyer, a longtime friend of Tull's, also joins the Legendary board. I've also learned so does Dick Cook, the former chairman of Walt Disney Studios. They join Joe Roth, the former Walt Disney and Fox movie boss turned producer, and others. The very popular Cook has been laying low since he was ousted from Disney though his movies Alice In Wonderland and Toy Story 3 were mega-earners for the Mouse House in 2010 and his Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise releases its fourquel this summer. (Johnny Depp almost didn't want to do #4 without Cook ...) I'm really glad to see Dick getting back into the game.
Given that Legendary has a seven-year, 40-picture deal with Warner Bros, "the next time you pay to stream a Warner Bros movie with Facebook credits, Accel will take a cut from both sides," Forbes said. Palo Alto-based Breyer oversaw Accel's $12.7 million investment in Facebook in 2005, when the social media company was valued at $100 million. It's now estimated to be worth $50 billion. Prior to this, Breyer was a board member of Marvel Entertainment, which complimented Tull's own entertainment tastes. Tull has previously raised private equity and hedge fund financing from ABRY Partners, AIG Direct Investments, Bank of America Capital Investors, Columbia Capital, Falcon Investment Advisors and M/C Venture Partners. Pretty soon I'm going to need a score card to keep all the intersecting entertainment worlds and platforms straight.
Marc Graser & Rachel Abrams wrote:With the financial community showing renewed interest in bankrolling Hollywood, Thomas Tull's Legendary Pictures has begun talks with investors to raise a new line of credit worth as much as $900 million.
Legendary is looking to raise between $600 million and $900 million through banks and institutional lenders as part of a new five-year line of credit that would last through 2016. Company's current credit line expires in 2013, the same year that its current distribution and financing arrangement with Warner Bros. is currently set to end.
Funds would be used to continue co-financing a slate of pics at WB, which includes the upcoming "Hangover" sequel, Superman reboot "Man of Steel," and most likely "The Dark Knight Rises," as well as a growing slate of in-house films, such as "Godzilla," the Guillermo del Toro-helmed "Pacific Rim" and a bigscreen adaptation of game "World of Warcraft." Other recent credits include "Inception," "The Town," "Due Date," "Sucker Punch" and "Clash of the Titans," whose sequel, "Wrath of the Titans" is currently lensing.
Company has also been ramping up efforts to expand onto other platforms like TV, digital and publishing.
Reps for Legendary declined to comment, saying the company has a policy not to comment on private discussions and presentations, which are said to have already begun and should continue over the next several weeks.
However, financial sources close to these early talks say Legendary's move makes sense given that investors are loosening their purse strings again and willing to free up more capital, creating the right time to lock down credit.
It would have been difficult to raise $500 million a year ago because of the recession and a weak stock market, one source said, but a stronger economy has helped make moneymen feel more comfortable.
Lead banks are said to include JPMorgan, with $200 million likely to come from institutional investors.
Investors are particularly interested in Legendary given the company's track record in producing high-profile tentpoles with pop-culture appeal, as well as its collateral and its ongoing distribution arrangement with WB, one banker said.
Legendary's properties recently attracted venture capitalist Jim Breyer (behind Facebook, Groupon and "Angry Birds" maker Rovio) to purchase $40 million worth of shares from an existing shareholder.
In October, Tull paired up with Fidelity Investments and Fortress Investment Group to buy out shares held by an original group of investors in the company, a move that enabled the chairman to become Legendary's largest shareholder.
The companies, which included Abry Partners, AIG Direct Investments, Bank of America, Columbia Capital, Falcon Investment Advisors and M/C Venture Partners, had ponied up $400 million to help launch Legendary in 2004.
Legendary is said to be valued at more than $1 billion.
NIKKI FINKE wrote:UPDATE: What's being described as the most powerful privately held family fortune in China has recently made an investment in Thomas Tull's Legendary Pictures. It signals the start of new China business for the entertainment movie finance and production company best known for its 7-year, 40-picture deal with Warner Bros. The family company is called New World Development and among their many holdings it's the largest landholder in China outside the government. This investment in Legendary Pictures is similar to those of Jim Breyer and Gordy Crawford previously reported. Film financing circles familiar with the investment speculate to me that Tull is eying a major move in China and expect this financial and strategic relationship to be a great asset to have towards that end. They say it's possible that a joint production deal, company expansion, or offshoot company is planned. New World Development is the third well-connected investor for Tull's company this month alone: both Gordy Crawford, the Downtown LA-based shareholder in a long string of entertainment companies through his firm Capital Research Global Investors, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Jim Breyer of Accel Partners quietly bought minority stakes in Legendary -- Crawford for his personal portfolio, and Breyer $40M for Accel after purchasing the shares from a previous legendary investor as part of a larger stock sale that Legendary arranged in March.
APRIL 16: Thomas Tull's Legendary Pictures is seeking to secure a $700 million line of credit from 2013 out to 2016 or even 2017. Its current credit facility doesn't expire until 2013 -- the same year that Legendary's current distribution and financing arrangement with Warner Bros ends -- "but the feeling is that now there are really favorable terms." Right now banks and institutional lenders are being approached to participate and investment presentations are being put together for the next few weeks. JP Morgan, which has a long relationship with Legendary, is expected to lead this round of financing. Tull has previously raised private equity and hedge fund financing from ABRY Partners, AIG Direct Investments, Bank of America Capital Investors, Columbia Capital, Falcon Investment Advisors and M/C Venture Partners.
MIKE FLEMING wrote:I'm told that Paramount Pictures has acquired The Mighty, a graphic novel published by DC Comics. Mary Parent's Paramount-based Disruption Entertainment will produce. Parent and Cale Boyter will produce with Benderspink's JC Spink. While DC product usually goes through Warner Bros, this one had rights that were controlled by the creators, Peter Tomasi and Keith Champagne. The artist is Peter Snejberg. In The Mighty, they've come up with a nifty take on the superhero genre. The protagonist is mortal, a tough cop. He hunts a villain who is the superhero and must overcome the obvious disadvantages of going up against someone with superpowers. It's too early to get confirmation from the studio, but I'll add more when I have it.
Updated logline: The Mighty tells the story of Alpha-One, the world's most powerful super-being, who has always been a force for good, but Gabriel Cole, a cop who's life was saved by Alpha One as a child, has uncovered his hero's dark plan that will put them on a collision course of an ordinary man versus a super-man. Tomasi currently writes the DC Comics for Batman And Robin, Green Lantern Corps, and co-writes Brightest Day with Geoff Johns. Tomasi has also written the creator-owned comic The Light Brigade, and Champagne is the author of the creator-owned comic Armor-X.
Marc Graser wrote:Executives at Warner Bros. have slipped on their power rings and hope to conjure up more than just a new film franchise when "Green Lantern" takes flight at megaplexes today.
With the live-action launch of the superhero, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds as jet fighter-turned-space cop Hal Jordan, the studio is giving its various divisions the first of several DC properties to collectively rally around.
In the past, WB's TV and animation divisions, consumer products arm, direct-to-homevideo shingle Warner Premiere independently produced their own merchandise based on DC characters, without tie-ins to a particular film at the B.O. or the close involvement of DC itself.
The 71-year old Green Lantern character, introduced by writer Bill Finger and artist Martin Nodell in 1940, was getting that same treatment. But since the studio took control of DC Comics and rebooted it as DC Entertainment last year, WB has been taking a more Disney-like approach, aiming to carefully orchestrate how its characters are employed across the company to help each arm get the most from a film's bow.
"Green Lantern" is being used as a test case as WB strives to get more of its comicbook characters -- which also include Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash -- into theaters.
Effort is being spearheaded by Warner Bros. vet Diane Nelson, a former global brand management exec who had overseen the "Harry Potter" franchise for the studio and managed Warner Premiere but now heads up DC Entertainment, reporting to Jeff Robinov, prexy of Warner Bros. Picture Group. Robinov had been keen to take more creative control of DC's adaptations but wanted to turn to an exec who could fully exploit the comicbook brands while making sure diehard fans would be happy with the resulting films.
It's a tough balancing act, but with a $200 million production budget, brands like Subway and cellphone maker LG backing the marketing of the pic, and a slew of comicbooks, toys, games, DVDs, an animated series and other merchandise from inhouse and licensing partners, "Green Lantern" has become a hard property to ignore.
That's not to say it's been an easy sell. The character isn't as well known as Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman. There are multiple Green Lanterns in the universe, and the character's power ring, which chooses the wearer, can create basically whatever its possessor wants.
To introduce Green Lantern to moviegoers, the studio turned to Martin Campbell, who has experience nurturing franchises as the helmer of "GoldenEye," which launched Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, and "Casino Royale," which did the same for Daniel Craig. He had also put Antonio Banderas behind the "Zorro" mask for Sony.
But less than three months before its launch, Warner was still trying to establish the film's identity clearly among potential ticket buyers.
A teaser trailer attached to "Harry Potter" last November was criticized by fanboys, forcing WB worldwide marketing chief Sue Kroll to relaunch the campaign. The hitch: She had to wait for the pic's complicated 3D f/x sequences to be completed before she could show off more of the goods.
"It's a very ambitious film and very reliant on visual f/x," from the planet Oa to digital characters like Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan); even Reynolds' suit and that of Sinestro (Mark Strong) are CG, Kroll told Variety. "All of the best elements of the film were going to be available later. We went out a little bit early and weren't prepared with the setpieces and didn't have a lot to work with. The response wasn't as good as we had hoped for."
A nine-minute sequence that was later cut into trailers and TV spots was shown at Las Vegas' CinemaCon at the end of March before moving on to San Francisco's WonderCon in April. The new images won over naysayers with more money shots and sold the Green Lantern character as a wise-cracking superhero who appeals to kids and adults the way Spider-Man does and is not like the darker, edgier Batman.
"That's when the campaign started in earnest, and we were able to establish the mythology, introduce Oa, all of the characters," Kroll said. Character posters were then released and an aggressive TV campaign latched onto sports events and series finales of hit shows.
"You only need a couple months to be out there aggressively," Kroll said. "It is important to remind people that a movie's coming, but there's so much product coming out every weekend, the marketplace is so competitive and cluttered all year that if you're marketing a movie a year out it's wasteful and presumptuous that people are going to remember you."
Still, WB needed to use the ads to educate moviegoers who weren't familiar with the property, especially women, regarding who the Green Lantern is and what his world consists of -- not unlike what Marvel had to do with Iron Man and Thor. Property essentially serves as DC's version of "Star Wars" or "Star Trek," spotlighting a slew of alien creatures from various races that make up the Green Lantern Corps., an intergalactic police force.
"The most simple thing we had to answer was, 'What is a Green Lantern?' It feels obvious now but it wasn't to most people," Kroll said. You can't take anything for granted when it comes to the mainstream public. You really have to educate people what (a film's) about. You just have to do it in a fun and interesting way."
The challenges included explaining that Hal Jordan was the only human Green Lantern among a legion of creatures that protect the universe and defining what the ring and suit do and how they work, as well as who the other Green Lanterns are. The effort built on a number of fronts:
nWarner Bros. Consumer Products, which earns more than $6 billion annually, is putting more resources around the launch of "Green Lantern" than around any major property since "Harry Potter." Division recruited more than 100 licensees, including Mattel, to create a wide range of products, from T-shirts to toys. Each action figure and playset comes complete with a Green Lantern ring in order for kids to feel as if they, too, have been "chosen" to be a Green Lantern.
nWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment produced the vidgame "Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters," inspired by the film.
nWarner Bros. Animation created "Green Lantern: The Animated Series," which will bow on Cartoon Network later this year.
nDC has published a new line of comicbooks, and an ad at the end of the pic's credits aims to drive auds their local comicbook shop to purchase new books featuring the character.
nOn June 7 Warner Premiere, working with DC and Warner Bros. Animation, bowed "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights," a full-length original toon on Blu-ray, DVD, on demand and via download. It had also produced "Green Lantern: First Flight" in 2009.
While all of those products are tied to the new film, those divisions can still build new efforts around the durable core character, who has proved popular for decades, even if "Green Lantern" doesn't do well at the box office. The property has a legacy that precedes it and a mythology that's been well established.
And thanks to the film, more people will know about the character than may have before.
"Fanboys are a very vocal minority but represent a very small percentage of the moviegoing population," Kroll said of the early negative buzz surrounding the film. "It's very hard when you're creating a film that's intended for mass audiences. It's very hard to keep fans happy. Fans will always have issues with what's being done to the source material. But there's a much bigger purpose for this property. It's a good primer for the future and lays the groundwork for the future of the franchise."
Claude Brodesser-Akner wrote:Warner Bros. has made an estimated $2 billion so far from the Harry Potter franchise, and stands to add a lot more with the last film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. The new film hasn’t even opened on its record-breaking 11,000 screens, and already it’s sold a record-breaking $32 million in advance ticket sales. Heady numbers, surely, but afterwards, after ten overwhelmingly profitable years, the Hogwarts faucet of galleons will be turned off. As one producer on the Warner lot laughingly put it, “Now they’re back in the real world.” So what is the studio planning to try to make up for the loss of their sure thing? Vulture contacted its best spies to find out.
Warner Bros. has three franchises either in production or close to it. However, all have their caveats: There's The Dark Knight Rises … but this is the last Batman film (at least by Chris Nolan), as explicitly stated at the end of the trailer recently leaked online. And there's Zack Snyder's Superman take, Man of Steel, but after Sucker Punch, Watchmen, and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, Snyder does not come without worry. And then there's Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. Though its development and shoot have seemed accursed, it's a safe bet, but after these two films, the Tolkien well will have run dry.
So what high hopes are in development?
David Yates, who directed the last four Harry Potter films, has the pick of the litter — or should we say, pick of the literature? — at the studio. The studio's top priority is a multi-picture adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand. Our spies tell us that Yates is flying into town tomorrow, and has been rereading King’s epic-length supernatural classic. We’re told Yates will decide if he wants to do the film sometime in the next two weeks. It is a big commitment, as the studio wants to split the giant book into three parts. (Though one could imagine the studio backing away from that aspiration, just as we heard that Universal was getting nervous about its plan to turn King's Dark Tower series into three movies and a two-season TV series.)
Another reason for the lack of clarity about The Stand is that Yates has been developing another project at WB: an Al Capone origin story called Cicero. Vulture now hears exclusively that Tom Hardy has attached himself to the project, which was originally written in the seventies as a TV pilot by Walon Green (the screenwriter of Sam Peckinpah’s masterpiece, The Wild Bunch) but is now being readapted as a film. And possibly more than one: There is talk that, like The Stand, it could be stretched out, with a first film only tracking the gangster up to his rise to the top of the Chicago criminal food chain; his reign and downfall would be in a subsequent film(s). In other words, Yates could be tied up with both franchises for the next ten years: This is a man who clearly likes job security.
But to make Cicero happen with Hardy, Warner Bros. has more things to rearrange. He's attached to star in the studio's Mad Max reboot Fury Road, which shoots next spring. Insiders tell Vulture that Yates will be discussing the possibility of shooting Cicero before Hardy has to report for duty on Fury Road.
And just in case Yates loses interest in both of these projects, we’re told the studio is also eager to put him on Fables, based on a Vertigo Comics graphic novel that seems an awful lot like NBC’s forthcoming series Grimm. Set in the Fabletown section of Manhattan's Upper West Side, it follows its sheriff, the now-reformed Big Bad Wolf, as he investigates the murder of Snow White’s party-girl sister. (The prime suspect: Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk climber. No, really.) And finally, Yates is also said to be a candidate to direct an adaptation of Jonathan Tropper’s family-funeral farce, This Is Where I Leave You.
But Warner Bros. also has plans that don't involve Yates! We hear that the studio hasn't given up on its remake of Akira, after removing director Albert Hughes for failing to cast the picture with movie stars large enough to justify its massive $200 million budget. Vulture hears that the studio now wants the director of Liam Neeson's Unknown, Jaume Collet-Serra, to direct — albeit at a dramatically reduced budget. The studio had been trying to get Collet-Serra to direct Xerxes, a planned sequel to Snyder’s 300 that had been previously offered to Guy Ritchie in February after it became clear that Snyder would be too busy with the studio’s Superman reboot, Man of Steel, to direct that project anytime soon. Instead, we now hear that Noam Murro, the director of 2008’s Smart People and soon, a fifth Die Hard at Fox, has accepted oversight of Xerxes.
Ritchie passed on Xerxes, but as you can certainly tell by now, Warner Bros. is not the type to just let a cherished director walk away. Insiders tell us that Ritchie is now in the midst of making a deal to oversee an adaptation of DC Comics' WWII hero series Sgt. Rock. Warner-based producer Joel Silver had originally optioned the project for Ritchie years ago, when he was making Rock N Rolla. Ritchie ultimately bailed to make Sherlock Holmes, and director Francis Lawrence took his place, albeit with a futuristic version penned by Chad St. John. Now Vulture hears that Sgt. Rock is going back to its Greatest Generation roots. Ritchie has been overseeing the development of Arabian Nights — a reimagining of the classic fairy tale that includes all sorts of characters like Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba — but feels the Nights script by Cole Haddon (Dark Horse Comics' graphic novel, The Strange Case of Hyde) needs a lot of work. As such, the studio feels like if they quickly make the fixes Ritchie wants on Sgt. Rock, it could well be his next film.
Finally, Warner Bros. is dusting off another Joel Silver–produced project, a long-moldering buddy-cop script that has been in development for years at the studio called Fully Automatic, which the studio hopes to use to revive the magic of its once-mighty Lethal Weapon franchise; we hear that Justin Timberlake just attached himself to star in the project.
Jack Giroux wrote:Francis Lawrence keeps himself busy, and it shows when you look at his untrusty IMDB page. The director’s name has been tied to a lot of projects in the past few years – Survivor, Sgt. Rock, Houdini, and more — but many of those films aren’t ones Lawrence will be making. In my interview with the director, we spent some time discussing what may be next for him, either Houdini or Unbroken, and why certain projects didn’t come together.
First off, Lawrence won’t be adapting Survivor, which he backed away from over two years ago. Not because the project died while he was working on it, but over a tonal issue:
“Well, Survivor – I love, love, love the book. It was a friend of mine who wrote the first draft, and he did a really good job. I was trying to find the real human story in that story. Chuck Palahniuk has a very specific tone — which I love — but sometimes it’s hard to find a real human story in there, and that’s what I was trying to find. I couldn’t balance injecting the human into it, without losing too much of that tone; the reason to do it is, really, the tone. I couldn’t find right balance, so I eventually gave up. I wanted to give the guys who had the rights, who were desperate to go make it, the chance to go make it. I got off of it maybe two or three years ago, and they still haven’t done anything with it. I’m not sure where it sits now.”
The long in development comic book adaptation Sgt. Rock also won’t bare the director’s name. Producer Akiva Goldsman and Lawrence wanted to make a near-future war film, while Warner Bros. was interested in sticking to World War II:
“Sgt. Rock was something both Akiva [Goldsman] and I were involved in at Warner Bros. We weren’t trying to do the World War II version of it, but something in the near-future. It was really cool, and I really liked it, but Warner Bros. wanted to go back to the World War II version of it.
The recently-discussed Houdini project may be next, as long as Sony gives the greenlight.
As of right now, Lawrence is “unofficially” prepping the film. “We’re not in the official prep yet, and we’re kind of in the research phase. Most of the movie takes place just before the turn of the century, so it’s sort of figuring out how to do the turn of the century New York, and what that’s like, what the people were like, what the landscape of Manhattan looked like at the time, and cataloging all the cool kind of places we could set scenes at; all of this is while the script is being written.” Houdini also won’t be a bio film — as Lawrence pointed out, “It’s not a bio pic, it’s actually historical-fiction. We’re doing a thing where we’re taking real characters from the era and putting them together in the film and creating our own story.”
If Houdini doesn’t come together, then an adaptation of Unbroken may be his next project. But if Houdini does in fact come together, Unbroken still might be his follow-up:
“I’m focusing on the project I’m on right now, but it’s between Houdini and Unbroken. I got involved in this book, this Laura Hillenbrand book, about Louie Zamperini and World War II. I’m also really involved in that as well. If Houdini falls apart, or something like that, that’s a definite possibility. If Houdini happens, then I think Unbroken would be next.”
As for the possible Constantine sequel: I somehow forgot to plead with Lawrence to make it happen, but I’m sure that it’s still in the same place it’s been for the past few years. Hopefully that, along with Houdini, will come together for the very good filmmaker.
John Villoch wrote:Character actor Michael Cerveris, best known for playing The Observer on the FOX television show ‘Fringe’, can be added to the list of names being considered for the role of Superman’s arch-nemeses Lex Luthor, however, the self-proclaimed “Greatest criminal mind of our time” wont likely appear until the Man of Steel follow-up.
Director Zack Snyder is obviously a big fan of J.J. Abrams sci-fi series, Snyder used ‘Fringe’s Casting Director Michelle Allen to cast Man of Steel and Sucker Punch in Vancouver, Canada. Currently in production under the title “Autumn Frost,” ‘Man of Steel’ will film in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island from late September through to the end of January 2012.
Jamie Williams wrote:When a studio commissions a writer for a sequel to an as-yet-released franchise-hopeful, it's an act of showing confidence in their product. They're telling us, "We have a winner here, you fellas are gonna love it and we're getting the ball rolling for more now because of that!"
It's just hard to cipher through that bullshit to guage when it's legitimate confidence or a case of the studio saving face. Paramount did that on Star Trek, hammering out new deals for Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, and Roberto Orci to pen a sequel a month prior to its release and judging by its reception the move was justified. Not so much in other cases, like Green Lantern 2, Tron 3 and that Terminator: Salvation sequel McG was telling everyone about.
We're hearing through the grapevine executives in Burbank are very happy with what they've seen from The Man of Steel so far. Both regarding the latest round of rewrites as supplied by the Mulroneys (the husband-wife writing duo behind the unmade Justice League: Mortal and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) among others and the footage assembled.
Production doesn't wrap 'till the start of 2012 and even then Zack Snyder's Superman epic will have another year and half before the general public votes with their wallets come June 2013. Nevertheless, Warner Brothers already has their sights set for a Man of Steel follow-up and gone as far to commission a shortlist of writers with Steve Kloves at the very top in addition to Travis Beacham and Lawrence Kasdan.
Keep in mind, no meetings, deals, etc. have gone down with any of these guys and/or their representation. Beacham (hot off his Pacific Rim script at WB/Legendary) is quite the active Twitterer. So it wouldn't surprise if he denies this, and that's perfectly fine. This is WB's way of covering their ass and keeping stuff lined up in the event The Man of Steel goes over as well as they're hoping and, so far, feeling based on everything they're seeing.
Josh Wigler wrote:Who watches the "Watchmen," you ask? Right now the answer appears to be everyone.
DC Entertainment announced Wednesday (February 1) that a new "Watchmen" prequel series is officially in development. Titled "Before Watchmen," the project spans seven different miniseries starring popular characters from Rorschach to Doctor Manhattan. The continuation of "Watchmen" had been rumored for quite some time, but today's announcement turns rumors into facts — and the reaction to those facts is divided, to say the least.
Some fans believe that more "Watchmen" is a great idea, especially considering the involvement of top-tier comic book talents including Darwyn Cooke and Brian Azzarello. For others, even excellent creative teams won't wash away the panic some are feeling at the prospect of revisiting the most successful, self-contained graphic novel of all time. Indeed, "Watchmen" writer Alan Moore has already spoken out against the existence of "Before Watchmen," telling the New York Times that it's "completely shameless." Artist Dave Gibbons' stance, meanwhile, is considerably warmer: "I appreciate DC's reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work. May these new additions have the success they desire."
From fans to creators and all the onlookers in between, arguments about whether or not "Before Watchmen" should even exist are sure to rage on in the coming days, weeks and months. But the MTV Movies Team is focused on a different question: Will "Before Watchmen" lead to more "Watchmen" movies?
Up front, it should be noted that the film adaptation of Moore and Gibbons' graphic novel wasn't a smash success at the box office, only yielding $185 million worldwide against a $130 million budget. But the film's high-profile release drew renewed attention to the "Watchmen" brand, propelling its ranking as the top-selling graphic novel for 11 straight months. "Watchmen" also pulled in strong initial DVD sales and rental figures. An unconventional success, perhaps, but success all the same.
Even with all those factors considered, would the "Watchmen" movie's creative team be on-board for sequels? Actors Patrick Wilson and Malin Akerman, who played Nite Owl and Silk Spectre respectively, spoke with MTV News about the topic in 2009, and both expressed skepticism. "I just don't know where you would go," Wilson said. "You would need one good idea."
"I don't really know how [a sequel] would ever be possible," Akerman added. "Because 'Watchmen' is 'Watchmen,' and we covered pretty much the whole novel."
Clearly, there is now more ground to cover than Akerman once realized, so future "Watchmen" movies based on original comics material are certainly possible. But if "Watchmen" does have a future on the big screen, director Zack Snyder will not be involved — if comments he made three years ago still hold weight, that is.
"I know that I wouldn't have anything to do with it," Snyder said in February 2009. "It would be like me going to ['No Country for Old Men' author] Cormac McCarthy and going, 'I have an idea for a [sequel]: You write a book, and I'll write a movie, and you can release it. You'll win a Pulitzer; I'll win an Oscar. It'll be awesome.'
"The attitude toward comic books, they show their hand a little bit," he added. "They would never say that about a real novelist, but they would about a comic book."
So will we see more "Watchmen" on film? At this point, it's simply too early to say. But where one would have thought the prospect impossible just three years ago, the possibilities are virtually endless today.
Barry Sonnenfeld wrote:You know, I’m talking to Warner Bros. about doing a franchise based on a comic that hasn’t been around since the 60s. But it’s too early to talk about it. But possibly, yes.
Marc Graser & Dave McNary wrote:With the Batman trilogy winding down and Superman returning to theaters next summer, plans to put more of DC Comics' superheroes on the bigscreen are coming together nearly three years after Warner Bros. took back control of characters.
This week, the studio revealed it tapped "Gangster Squad" scribe Will Beall to revive "Justice League," which WB unplugged in 2008, and hired Michael Goldenberg (one of the many writers of "Green Lantern") to pen "Wonder Woman."
Those projects now join in development films based on the Flash, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Lobo, the Suicide Squad and Shazam. DC and WB are also facing a decision on how to reboot Batman once "The Dark Knight Rises" completes Christopher Nolan's take on the caped crusader, featuring Christian Bale in the cowl.
Studio is figuring out whether to bring back Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern in a sequel to last year's actioner or relaunch the character in a completely new way. Goldenberg ("Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix") was brought on board in 2010 to write the screenplay for the sequel, a year before the first film bowed.
Of course, those are nice problems to have.
As Marvel Studios has proved, successful superhero pics can boost the bottomline of every division at a studio through homevideo releases, videogames, consumer products and licensed merchandise, TV and online shows and theme park attractions.
To better exploit DC's characters, Warner Bros. relaunched the comicbook company as DC Entertainment in 2009, and put "Harry Potter" franchise steward Diane Nelson at the helm. She reports directly to studio chief Jeff Robinov.
At the time, Robinov and Nelson halted development of all films tied to DC characters, taking them back from producers like Charles Roven, Joel Silver and Dan Lin and aimed to start from scratch.
DC's more focused approach to manage its heroes already has been felt across Warner Bros.
• On TV, the company launched programming block DC Nation on Cartoon Network with new "Green Lantern" and "Young Justice" animated series. CW is bringing a live-action take on Green Arrow to primetime in the fall with "Arrow," which is notably darker than the net's previous DC staple, "Smallville."
• Direct-to-homevid titles have sold well, with "Superman vs. The Elite" and "Flashpoint" forthcoming.
• Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has scored with its dark and gritty "Batman: Arkham Asylum" and "Batman: Arkham City" games, as well as its lighter, funnier "Lego: Batman" titles. WBIE used this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo videogame confab to unveil fighting game "Injustice: Gods Among Us," featuring DC's heroes and villains, and a "Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition" for the new Nintendo Wii U console, out this fall.
• Meanwhile, Warner Bros. Consumer Products shelled out considerable coin to expand its rights to the classic 1960s "Batman" TV series to launch new lines of merchandise featuring the show's characters, while brokering deals to unleash a slew of products around next summer's Superman actioner, "Man of Steel," which the studio hopes will launch a new franchise.
• And its comicbook division relaunched all of its 52 books last year, with new storylines and art, to boost sales and attract a new readership, especially through digital platforms.
With "Harry Potter" having ended its run, WB is clearly turning to DC to help launch new franchises.
But the studio is being especially careful with the characters now after the disappointing perf of "Green Lantern," which earned nearly $220 million at the worldwide box office last year.
According to sources close to the development process, the studio learned that when making a superhero pic, it needs to tap creatives that genuinely understand the characters the way Joss Whedon was comfortable with "The Avengers."
DC execs are excitedly discussing all of the projects in motion with the major exception of its films.
The main reason: Christopher Nolan. With the filmmaker having relaunched Batman (last installment, "The Dark Knight," hauled in $1 billion globally, now surpassed by "The Avengers") and producing Superman pic "Man of Steel," directed by Zack Snyder, WB has increasingly put more control of its DC films in Nolan's hands.
That's similar to how WB entrusted producer David Heyman with all eight "Harry Potter" films.
Nolan has long preferred not to talk about his projects until their release, preserving some of that "movie magic" for the bigscreen.
It's why only one image of Henry Cavill as Superman has been released so far, with the first official footage of "Man of Steel" likely to play at Comic-Con in San Diego next month.
Warner Bros. isn't expected to make any concrete moves on the DC film front until after the third Batpic opens on July 20. Putting so much power in Nolan's hands is an interesting move -- especially as the filmmaker does not have a first-look deal at the studio. Still, WB is showing signs of veering into adventurous creative territory.
In a departure from normal comicbook-based fare, "Suicide Squad," for example, concentrates on a group of incarcerated supervillains -- well known and unknown -- rather than the usual focus on superheroes.
Kellvin Chavez wrote:2. Rice- “Starchy and Tasty”- Speaking of Guillermo del Toro let’s just say he is working on a movie that has the potential to be the greatest movie ever committed to film. Or bytes. I hear that his next epic, PACIFIC RIM ( a Japanese Porno) is testing so well that Warner Brothers wants to offer him everything they have. Fortunately he passed on the feature version of V and the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but he does want to do his own version of the Avengers, just supernaturally. Called HEAVEN SENT he is combining all the magical beings from DC Comics in one epic adventure. Deadman, The Spectre, Swamp Thing, Constantine Hellblazer, Phantom Stranger, Zatanna, Zatara, and Sargon as well as Etrigan the Demon will team up to no doubt save us from the Stay Puft Marshmallow man. Now this one is a ways away, but Warner’s lawyers have been working every night trying to clear the rights to all these characters. I am excited. Imagine a giant inflatable Spectre floating over San Diego ComiCon like we had with the SKY CAPTAIN Robot? Or endless screenings of the film like with SCOTT PILGRIM? Or maybe a building converted into a giant ad like with COWBOYS AND ALIENS? HEAVEN SENT is certain to RULE ComicCon in 2020! Que Bueno!
Josh Wigler wrote:Superman is faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive, but is he fast and furious enough to win big at the box office? Not necessarily, judging by the poor returns on "Superman Returns."
It's not surprising, then, that director Zack Snyder isn't counting his kryptonians before they fly. The "Man of Steel" filmmaker was recently asked by E! Online if he was already looking ahead towards the DC Entertainment movie's inevitable sequel. But according to Snyder, he's not looking towards any potential follow-ups just yet.
"We like to take it one step at a time and not curse anything," said the director. "It's that kind of thing so we'll see what happens."
For now, lips are tightly sealed even on the first "Man of Steel" movie. Snyder admitted that "it's super hard to keep it a secret," even while it's "awesome" seeing Henry Cavill don the suit. That's a sentiment shared by Cavill's co-stars Michael Shannon and Amy Adams, based on what they previously told MTV News.
"I always felt like I was in a scene with Superman," Shannon told MTV recently. "I never looked at him and thought that's just somebody trying to be Superman — he felt like the real deal."
"You feel like you're in scenes with Superman," Adams agreed. "He is completely invested and yoked and he just really took the role very seriously and yeah, he's fantastic, he's just so yum. He's the nicest guy — aside from the face."
"Man of Steel" flies on June 14, 2013.
Marc Malkin wrote:We've got some time before the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, hits theaters but it's never too early to start talking sequels, right?
Director Zack Snyder chose his words very carefully when we caught up with him recently and asked if he's already planning a follow-up.
"We like to take it one step at a time and not curse anything," he said at the Arthritis Foundation gala in Beverly Hills. "It's that kind of thing so we'll see what happens."
What happens in the movie is a big mystery. Snyder and his cast and crew have remained tight-lipped about what goes down in the flick.
"It's super hard to keep it a secret," Snyder said.
OK, so what was it like seeing Henry Cavill for the first time in the Superman suit? "It was awesome," Snyder said. "You look at him and you're like, 'That was a good idea!'"
Sadly, Cavill was at the gala, but not doing any press.
Christopher Meloni, who plays Colonel Hardy, was also careful not to spill.
"I just keep telling everyone it's a reimagining and something that you've never seen before in your life—how a superhero is portrayed, the journey he gave him and how it's filmed. You've never see anything like it."
A three-way race for the top job at Warner Bros. was intended to inspire greatness in the candidates. Instead, it has led to distrust and disorder.
Ben Fritz and Meg James wrote:Two years ago Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes created an Office of the President to inspire three ambitious executives into collegial competition for the top job at Warner Bros., Hollywood's largest film and television studio.
"These three will work as a unit," Bewkes declared.
But the effort has inspired distrust and disharmony inside Warner Bros., the studio known for Batman, Bugs Bunny and "The Big Bang Theory" as well as for its decades of management stability.
The three competing candidates — Television Group President Bruce Rosenblum, Motion Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov and Home Entertainment Group President Kevin Tsujihara — do not work as a unit. They rarely meet as a trio or get involved in one another's businesses, according to several people associated with the studio who were not authorized to speak publicly.
And although Bewkes said anyone jockeying or politicking for the job of Warner Bros.' chairman would "eliminate themselves" as contenders, the three men have been maneuvering for position while their subordinates quietly advertise their bosses' qualities and rivals' shortcomings.
Morale is low and anxiety is high on Warner's Burbank lot. Some insiders describe an atmosphere in which executives are hesitant to extend contracts, staffers are afraid to cross department lines for fear of "taking sides" and potential partners are wary of signing long-term deals without knowing who will be in charge.
Some have also expressed frustration that the succession process has dragged on so long and that Bewkes has remained publicly silent on the matter.
"People are very preoccupied with the issue of succession, and it creates an undercurrent of tension and awkwardness," said a Warner Bros. executive, one of more than a dozen interviewed by The Times who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "It's like being a kid wondering if your parents are about to break up."
The runoff officially launched in September 2010 when Warner's professorial chairman, Barry Meyer, agreed to postpone his planned retirement until the end of 2013 — after 42 years at the company and 14 in the top job.
Bewkes, who like the three candidates declined through a spokesperson to be interviewed, envisioned the Office of the President as a way to groom Robinov, Rosenblum and Tsujihara by helping them "see and think beyond their own businesses," according to a person familiar with his thinking.
Bewkes is expected to announce early next year whether he has selected one of the three men to be the new chairman or if, after the long and public bake-off, he is electing to bring in an outsider.
The historic Burbank entertainment company, founded in 1923 by brothers Jack, Harry, Sam and Albert Warner, has traditionally been Hollywood's most stable studio. Jack Warner sold it in 1967, and two years later new owner Steve Ross installed talent agent Ted Ashley, who remained in charge until 1980. Former CBS President Bob Daly and film executive Terry
Semel then sat atop Warner Bros. from 1981 to 1999, when Meyer was named chairman.
"This is a company that is 90 years old and basically has had just four management teams," Daly said. "It's the culture of the studio — its history and continuity — that makes Warner Bros. so special. There's such a family feeling there."
But the family feeling has become strained. Robinov and Rosenblum are said to be the most personally competitive, while turf wars over topics such as whose division controls Web shows have popped up between Rosenblum and Tsujihara. Robinov and Tsujihara have maintained the tightest relationship.
Rosenblum is viewed by many at the studio as the front-runner for the top job. Meyer was a longtime TV business affairs executive before ascending to the corporate suite, and television has become increasingly important to Warner's bottom line.
The affable and ambitious Rosenblum — who has worked at the studio for nearly 24 years, including seven as the top TV executive — has been accused of promoting his candidacy. Last year he was elected chairman of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which bestows the annual Emmy Awards, a move seen by detractors as a way to boost his leadership credentials.
At a 2011 farewell party for Meyer's longtime deputy, Alan Horn, a string of speakers shared fond memories of the outgoing executive. Rosenblum's remarks surprised some attendees, however, when he jokingly reminded them that most Warner leaders had come up from the TV ranks.
The reserved and rough-edged Robinov — who joined the studio 15 years ago and replaced Horn as Warner's top movie executive last year — has a lower public profile. Perhaps to combat this, he has enlisted an outside publicist to help burnish his and his group's image.
Tsujihara appears to be the least competitive and the likeliest to partner up should Bewkes solve the leadership issue by appointing two executives to run the studio. However, the buttoned-down Stanford MBA, who is known as a digital guru and acquisitions expert, lacks operational experience in the studio's marquee film and TV production businesses.
By any financial metric, Warner Bros. has been running smoothly. It is regularly No. 1 or No. 2 in the box-office rankings, has the top market share in home video and sells more shows to TV networks than any other studio. Revenue last year climbed 9% to $12.6 billion, operating income increased 12% to $1.26 billion, and the studio is on track to have another record year.
But management experts say corporate runoffs, while not unusual, can be disruptive.
The process "creates competition and makes it hard for the candidates to cooperate with each other on a daily basis," said Edward Lawler, director of the Center for Effective Organizations at USC. "They are always trying to look better than the other person. It can put a bit of a strain on the organization."
Contract renewals, deal making and companywide initiatives at the studio have been complicated by the uncertainty.
During recent contract renewal talks, movie marketing President Sue Kroll is said to have sought additional responsibilities in part because of concern that her boss and longtime ally Robinov might not remain in his post.
Several other key Warner executives have not negotiated new employment contracts — and appear unlikely to do so until the leadership situation is resolved. They include TV studio President Peter Roth, DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson and Toby Emmerich, president of film label New Line Cinema.
The turf skirmishes have slowed development of movies based on Warner-owned DC's superheroes such as the Flash at a time when rival Marvel Entertainment is cranking out blockbusters like "The Avengers." Uncertainty about who will run Warner Bros. has stymied the studio from renewing its important deal with finance and producing partner Legendary Pictures. The deal expires at the end of next year.
"There is not paralysis," said one longtime Warner insider, "but a murkiness and lack of clarity at a place that is not used to having those conditions."
Warner Bros. is one of only two Hollywood studios that house movie and TV production together. Film is its largest business, producing about two-thirds of revenue. But television is more profitable, generating half of operating income. The TV business has been growing while the movie industry is contracting.
"Time Warner is basically a TV company," Bewkes told analysts this year. "Between our TV networks [HBO, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network and CNN] and our Warner TV production business, we derive over 80% of our profits from television."
Rosenblum, who started his career as a tour guide at Universal Studios, has helped build the division into a juggernaut with more than 50 shows, including "Two and a Half Men," "Mike and Molly" and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." During his tenure, Warner has expanded internationally and outbid rivals to secure deals with top talent such as "Revolution" producer J.J. Abrams and "Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre.
But some people in the film division fret that Rosenblum has no movie experience. The UCLA law school graduate's skills are on the business side, they say, adding that TV studio president Roth is the one who develops the shows.
That is in contrast to Robinov, who decides what movies Warner Bros. makes and is deeply involved in their production. A former talent agent, Robinov has built his reputation on an ability to cultivate relationships with successful filmmakers such as Chris Nolan ("The Dark Knight"), Ben Affleck ("Argo") and Todd Phillips ("The Hangover"). Fiercely loyal, he stuck with "300" director Zack Snyder through three subsequent flops and then handed him the keys to next year's Superman reboot "Man of Steel."
Although Robinov oversees more than $2 billion per year of production and marketing spending, he is less schooled in evolving digital business models.
Tsujihara enjoys a more down-to-earth reputation. He is an avid sports fan who last month flew to San Francisco and back in a single night to watch his beloved Giants play in the World Series.
Some of his business moves have been polarizing. Charged with reversing a multiyear decline in DVD revenue, Tsujihara has been Hollywood's most aggressive proponent of Ultraviolet, a digital movie initiative that Warner launched in late 2011 when some other studios believed that it had too many glitches.
He also successfully pushed Redbox and Netflix in 2010 to wait until four weeks after a DVD goes on sale to offer cheap rentals, although he failed this year to extend that window to eight weeks.
Tsujihara led delicate negotiations over "The Hobbit" with partial rights holder Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in late 2010, which got production started on the long-delayed movie series.
Bewkes' first major step in the succession process, pushing out the well-liked Horn, upset many on Warner's Burbank lot, particularly after Horn landed this year in the top job at Walt Disney Studios.
Many worry that when Bewkes announces his choice for chairman it will create further instability, particularly if one or two of the losing candidates flee after losing the public runoff.
If Bewkes were to choose an outsider, it's possible all three could leave.
"I would try to keep them all in some form or fashion," said Daly, the former chairman. "All three guys are very successful executives."
Meg James wrote:Early next year, Bewkes must decide who should replace Barry Meyer, who has overseen Warner Bros. since 1999. That succession planning process has become a distraction at the legendary Burbank studio as the more than two-year bake-off among the studio's three business leaders -- Television Group President Bruce Rosenblum, Motion Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov and Home Entertainment Group President Kevin Tsujihara -- continues.
Lin: [Suicide Squad] has a script from Justin Marks, but that is on a hold right now. I think Warner Brothers wants to finish their A-list stories first and then we’ll talk about stories like Suicide Squad.
Dave McNary wrote:After two years of speculation regarding the studio's succession plans, Jeff Robinov will remain as president of the Warner Bros. motion picture group -- one of the most powerful slots in Hollywood because of its slate of high-profile franchises and depth of filmmaking relationships.
Kevin Tsujihara was named CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment on Monday, emerging from a three-way derby that saw Tsujihara, Robinov and Warner Bros. TV Group president Bruce Rosenblum in contention to succeed Barry Meyer.
Robinov, who's been president of the motion picture group since 2007, issued a gracious response regarding the selection of Tsujihara: "I am truly happy and proud of Kevin," Robinov said. "We are both good friends and colleagues and I think he's an excellent choice for the job. The company will be in great shape under his leadership."
The naming of Tsujihara comes on the heels of a triumphant weekend for Warner Bros., which saw Ben Affleck's "Argo" take the top awards from the Producers Guild of America and the Screen Actor Guild for ensemble cast. But for Robinov, being passed over for the CEO post will undoubtedly fuel fresh speculation about whether he will continue his duties overseeing the film division.
Robinov is seen as a possible candidate to step in for Ron Meyer as president of Universal if Meyer moves into a more corporate role at Comcast, and rumors of such a scenario emerged last fall. But insiders are quick to note that Robinov coming over to Universal is by no means a certainty.
While the exec's strongest asset has been his relationships with top filmmakers -- most notably with Christoper Nolan, shepherd of the Batman franchise and, as a producer of the upcoming Superman reboot -- some insiders at both Universal and Warners say issues with Robinov's internal management skills are what cost him the top job at Warner Bros. That would likely factor in if Universal does consider him for Meyer's job.
Robinov has held sole greenlight authority over feature films since April 2011, when Alan Horn -- now Disney's film chief -- departed from Warner Bros. as studio prexy-chief operating officer.
During Robinov's his tenure, Warner Bros. remained at or near the top of the box office, thanks largely to betting big on tentpoles such as the Harry Potter pics, "The Dark Knight," "The Dark Knight Rises," the "Sherlock Holmes," "Hobbit" and "Hangover" franchises and "Inception." Its marketing team, headed by Sue Kroll, has received high marks for its ability to generate strong box office on a worldwide basis.
In 2013, Warners has remained prolific at a time when most of its rivals have reduced their output. The studio's key project this year is the Zack Snyder-helmed "Man of Steel," which aims to reboot the Superman franchise. Other notable titles are Guillermo del Toro's sci-fi tentpole "Pacific Rim," Bryan Singer's "Jack the Giant Slayer," "Hangover 3" and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug."
Further out, the studio's planning a "Justice League" tentpole -- encompassing DC Comics mainstays Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and the Green Lantern -- on the order of Marvel's "The Avengers." Will Beall is scripting but no director has been attached yet.
Stakes are high for "Man of Steel." Other than Nolan's Batpics, Warners has not been able to effectively exploit the DC library. Its 2011 "Green Lantern" underperformed, and a "Justice League" film wouldn't likely be in theaters before 2015, as Warner's top brass has indicated that they are awaiting the results of "Man of Steel," which opens June 14, before moving further ahead.
Robinov, a former talent agent, has maintained an impressive filmmaker roster at Warner Bros., including first-look deals with Snyder, Affleck, Todd Phillips ("The Hangover"), Robert and Susan Downey, Bradley Cooper, Tom Hardy, Clint Eastwood and "Harry Potter" producer David Heyman. The studio has three dozen first-look, financing and distribution deals, more than any other studio.
"Talent relationships have always been Jeff's strongest suit," one agent noted. "He's been able to get Ben Affleck to make movies for Warners, which is something every studio would like to have. There aren't many better jobs."
Robinov is responsible for more than $2 billion per year in spending on production and marketing and has a solid relationship with the affable Tsujihara. It's widely known that Robinov and Rosenblum have a chilly relationship and it was believed that Robinov might have ankled his post had Rosenblum become CEO.
Warner Bros. reorganized its motion picture group and handed the reins to Robinov in 2007, promoting him from prexy of production. That realignment was designed to allow Horn and Meyer to concentrate on big-picture issues while Robinov oversaw pics from start to finish -- and to put him on par with Rosenblum and Tsujihara.
Robinov was tapped as Warners head of production in 2002, shepherding the "Harry Potter," "Batman" and "Superman" franchises while the studio won best-picture Oscars for "Million Dollar Baby" and "The Departed." He also oversaw production of "300," "Ocean's Thirteen," "Syriana" and the "Matrix" trilogy.
Robinov joined the studio as senior VP of production in 1997. He came to the studio from ICM, where he repped the Hughes brothers, the Wachowskis and Christopher McQuarrie. He started his career as a tenpercenter at Writers & Artists.
Andrew Wallenstein & Stuart Levine wrote:Kevin Tsujihara was named CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment on Monday, stunning Hollywood given that he was viewed as the dark-horse candidate for the top job at the studio.
As chief of the studio's homevideo division, Tsujihara had been seen as something of a long shot in a three-way battle with Warner Bros. Picture Group president Jeff Robinov and Warner Bros. TV Group president Bruce Rosenblum to succeed Barry Meyer, who will remain chairman through 2013.
While a statement from the studio made clear that Robinov and Rosenblum are continuing in their current roles, getting passed over for the CEO post immediately called into question their futures at Warner Bros.
Tsujihara told Variety that he's very much hoping that Robinov and Rosenbloom remain in their posts in order to maintain stability at Warner Bros. -- a theme that was emphasized in recent conversations with Meyer and Time Warner chairman-CEO Jeff Bewkes.
"In each conversation, we agreed that we don't want to change the culture at Warner Bros. -- not just for the management team but also creative community and our partners such as Village Roadshow, Legendary and Alcon," Tsujihara said.
"Given the talent, depth and strength of the Warner Bros.' leadership, selecting our next CEO was not a decision that could be made hastily or lightly," read a joint statement from Meyer and Jeff Bewkes, chairman-CEO of Time Warner. "But we both agreed that Kevin is the right person to lead Warner Bros. and to build on its proud heritage as the world's most storied content producer."
The ascension of Tsujihara, who starts March 1, will likely be seen as underscoring the importance of digital media for the future of the studio even though it isn't currently a big revenue generator. A 20-year WB veteran, Tsujihara had been seen as the most progressive of the execs given the immersion of his division in new business models.
Tsujihara said there's no timetable yet for any changes, adding, "One thing we want to do is get this right. I'm not coming into a situation where something is broken."
Tsujihara, 48, has been president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment since 2005. While principally charged with managing the studio's DVD business, he has a broad portfolio of responsibilities that encompass pretty much everything that isn't part of the TV or movie fiefdoms.
That's included the still-nascent business of digital distribution as well as videogames, technical operations and piracy.
"It is an honor to have the opportunity to lead this storied business," Tsujihara said. "We're at a pivotal moment in the histories of Hollywood and entertainment: Technology is changing the canvas we use to create theatrical releases; home entertainment is rapidly evolving; and the definition of television now includes viewing across a wide range of devices and services."
The race for the WB CEO job has been perhaps Hollywood's most keenly followed, with speculation constantly swirling about shifting fortunes for the various candidates as they did best their not to look as if they were openly lobbying for the position.
Rosenblum offered a candid reaction of disappointment in not getting the promotion. "Obviously, I'm disappointed; who wouldn't be?" he said in a statement. "Warner Bros. is a unique and special place, and I know it will be in good hands with Kevin at the helm. I continue to be proud of our accomplishments, and I have the most respect and admiration for our amazing team at the studio -- a team that is thriving in an ever-transforming business."
Under Tsujihara's leadership, WB has been an aggressive player in digital distribution on a number of fronts. The studio played a leading role last year in the launch of Ultraviolet, a format backed across a consortium of industries that enables cloud-based distribution of content to a wide array of devices. While Ultraviolet is far from a success story after one year on the market, amassing over 7 million accounts, the technology is seen as Hollywood's best hope for encouraging purchasing of films and TV series, as opposed to lower-margin but more popular rental options.
Tsujihara's ascension will open up the top post at his homevid unit.
While it remains to be seen whether he restructures the portfolio he's leaving behind, Ron Sanders, president of Warner Home Video, to step up. Or, in keeping with the growing importance of digital at Warners, Tsujihara could end up handing the reins to Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.
As for Robinov, he choose to keep his chin up in a corporate statement.
"I am truly happy and proud of Kevin," he said. We are both good friends and colleagues, and I think he's an excellent choice for the job. The company will be in great shape under his leadership."
Robinov will remain on and continue overseeing the film division, but speculation will clearly begin to mount that he may step in for Ron Meyer as president of Universal if Meyer moves into a more corporate role at Comcast.
Rumors began mounting last fall that Robinov may be the man to replace Meyer, and this move to promote Tsujihara will only flame those suggestions.
Insiders add that a Robinov jump to Universal is by no means a certainty because many feel his internal management skills are what lost him the top job at Warner Bros. and would also be a factor if Universal considered him for Meyer's job.
Robinov has headed the motion picture group since April 2011, when he replaced Alan Horn and was given sole greenlight authority over feature films.
During his tenure, Warner Bros. remained at or near the top of the box office thanks largely to betting big on tentpoles such as the final Harry Potter pics; "The Dark Knight Rises"; the "Sherlock Holmes," "Hobbit" and "Hangover" franchises; and "Inception."
For 2013, the studio's key projects include Zach Snyder's "Man of Steel," the studio's reboot of its Superman franchise, along with Guillermo del Toro's sci-fi tentpole "Pacific Rim," Bryan Singer's "Jack the Giant Slayer," "Hangover 3" and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug."
Further out, the studio's planning on a "Justice League" tentpole -- presenting DC Comics characters Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and the Green Lantern -- on the order of Marvel's "The Avengers." Will Beall is scripting, but no director has been attached.
Robinov, a former talent agent, has maintained a strong filmmaker roster with first-look deals with Snyder, Ben Affleck ("Argo"), Todd Phillips ("The Hangover"), Robert and Susan Downey, Bradley Cooper, Tom Hardy, Clint Eastwood and "Harry Potter" producer David Heyman. The studio has three dozen first-look deals, more than any other.
Robinov is responsible for more than $2 billion in annual spending on production and marketing and has a solid relationship with the affable Tsujihara. It's widely known that Robinov and Rosenblum have a chilly relationship, and it was believed that Robinov might have departed had Rosenblum become CEO.
Tsujihara was in charge of the negotiations over "The Hobbit" with MGM in 2010, leading to the start of production of Peter Jackson's trilogy, which carries a pricetag in the range of $600 million. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" has performed well, with worldwide grosses of over $940 million.
Sharon Waxman wrote:Temperatures are running high at Warner Bros. over a New York Times story scheduled for next week that suggests Legendary CEO Thomas Tull is mulling ending his relationship with the studio when his deal is up at the end of this year, TheWrap has learned.
New York Times reporters Brooks Barnes and Michael Cieply have spent weeks preparing a hard-hitting piece on Tull, examining his relationship with the studio for whom he is a critical financing partner, having produced blockbuster movies from "300" to "The Dark Knight" to "The Hangover," among others.
TheWrap spoke with two individuals interviewed by the Times who confirmed that Tull is unhappy with his relationship with Warner's studio chief Jeff Robinov. Tull believes, they said, that Robinov has undercut him and that Robinov has told others that the financier takes too much credit on movies.
A spokeswoman for Legendary declined to comment. A spokesman for Warner Bros. also declined to comment.
One individual close to Tull cited an incident at last year's Comic-Con convention in San Diego in which senior Warner's executives "had steam coming out of their ears" over Tull's being on stage to present convention fans with a clip from the upcoming Guillermo del Toro blockbuster, "Pacific Rim."
In addition, the individual said Tull believed that Robinov had created tension between him and "Dark Knight" director Christopher Nolan. Other individuals said that Nolan and Tull's relationship was strong, despite rumors on the Warner lot to the contrary.
But an individual close to Robinov denied that the relationship was under any strain and indeed said Tull has recently assured Robinov that they are "great."
Nonetheless, the individuals with knowledge of Tull's plans told TheWrap that the financier has already taken meetings with rival studios to weigh his options for producing his movies elsewhere.
Tull's deal with Warner's ends in December 2013.
He is likely to be a sought-after partner for several of the major studios. The financier has a strong relationship with Alan Horn, who now heads the Walt Disney Studios and worked with Tull at Warner's, where Horn was the studio chief until two years ago. Other studios may make more likely partners, though: Paramount needs movies for its distribution slots, as do Sony and Universal, which have regularly sought outside financing partners.
The advantage of Legendary Pictures is that the company brings its own Wall Street-based financing, and Tull is now an experienced, hands-on producer, a highly attractive combination for studios short on cash and eager for blockbuster franchises.
Ironically, the Times piece was prompted by a preemptive lawsuit he filed in January against Roy Lee and Dan Lin, two leading producers of his next blockbuster, "Godzilla," whom he also fired off the picture.
According to individuals familiar with the article, the reporters began by taking a look at Tull's business methods and his aggressive use of preemptive lawsuits. Doing so revealed a little-known lawsuit he filed against a former employee he accused of extorting him two years after she left the company for, according to the suit, falsely alleging an office affair. The suit was quietly settled.
Queried by TheWrap about the story, Barnes declined to comment.
With the tension suggested by TheWrap's and apparently the Times' reporting, it may fall to Warner's new CEO Kevin Tsujihara -- who was named to the post on Monday -- to iron out any issues with his company's partner.
Said one person close to the partnership, "This is a shaky relationship that Kevin has to fix." At last word, the Times piece is scheduled to run on Monday.
Paul Romano wrote:It was recently reported that reaction to early Man Of Steel screenings have been very positive, with some even calling the Zack Snyder-directed Superman reboot the best movie of the year. Assuming that the film is a big hit for Warner Bros., it would make perfect sense that the studio would release a follow-up shortly afterwards. A Justice League film has been in development, but with screenwriter Will Beall's script reportedly scrapped, the DC Comics ensemble's future is currently unknown. However, according to Think Mcfly Think, WB is accelerating development on a direct sequel to Man Of Steel. David S. Goyer, who wrote the script for the first film, is said to be on board for the follow-up. As for Justice League, some rumblings claim that it's still a priority, while others say that it's now on hold. Keep in mind that none of this has been officially confirmed, and could very well be false. Stay tuned to CBM for more news as we have it.
Anthony Breznican wrote:When Man of Steel hits theaters on June 14, it won’t just mark the arrival of a new Superman — it will also lay the groundwork for the future slate of films based on DC Comics.
Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, spoke to EW for this week’s cover story on the Zack Snyder-directed, Christopher Nolan-produced movie, and allowed a peek over the wall of secrecy surrounding their DC Comics plans: “It’s setting the tone for what the movies are going to be like going forward. In that, it’s definitely a first step.”
Will Man of Steel include references to other DC heroes headed to the big screen, as Marvel did with its pre-Avengers series of flicks?
“I think you’ll see that, going forward, anything can live in this world,” he said. “[Nolan’s] Batman was deliberately and smartly positioned as a stand-alone. The world they lived in was very isolated without any knowledge of any other superheroes. What Zack and Chris have done with this film is allow you to really introduce other characters into the same world.”
We may not have to wait very long for more news. “We’ll announce something in the next several weeks that will hopefully position the DC characters and the movies we’re going to be making,” Robinov said.
So count on Man of Steel to at least hint at other potential heroes. But it may not overtly introduce other characters. In Batman Begins, we didn’t see the Joker, but we saw one of his calling cards. Expect something like that in the Superman movie.
David S. Goyer, who co-wrote The Dark Knight films and the screenplay for Man of Steel says this crew doesn’t like “sequel bait.” “One of the things we dealt with on the Batman films is, Chris dislikes it when you plan something, when you say, ‘I’m going to follow this up in the next film,” Goyer tells EW. “He’s always said put everything you have into this film and then worry about the next film later. That gives the film its own integrity as opposed to being part of an overall plan. So of course the comic book fans, it’s hard not to think about [crossovers] but I, having done three Batman films and worked in that way, it’s definitely the approach we took with Man of Steel.”
When asked if The Dark Knight trilogy of films stands entirely alone, Robinov said: “They do. Or they did,” with a change of tense that should rouse the attention of fanboys everywhere. “Where we go in the future is a whole other conversation.”
However, Robinov was unequivocal when asked if the rumor is true that Nolan will produce a Justice League movie, and bring Christian Bale back with him: “No, no it’s not.” (Nolan’s reps, who have previously declined to comment on that rumor, also confirmed Robinov’s statement and told EW that he definitely wasn’t involved with Justice League. Nolan is currently busy prepping his sci-fi film Interstellar.)
Robinov’s remarks do give fans some compelling clues to parse. So here’s where we veer from facts into speculation:
When Robinov said “They do. Or they did,” I at first took that to mean he was leaving the possibility open to retroactively link-up those three most recent Batman films with upcoming DC-based films. But as I listen to the conversation again, I suspect what he actually meant was that upcoming Batman films wouldn’t necessarily exist in their own closed-off world the way the previous ones did.
But — again — that’s analysis and a little guesswork. Anything is possible. But some things are less likely.
I doubt Nolan’s Dark Knight series will be joined up with the new Superman or Justice League films because Nolan created a story that had a fully realized arc and a definite ending. Reintroducing Bale’s Bruce Wayne in a superhero team-up movie would necessitate answering questions the filmmaker deliberately left open-ended at the conclusion of The Dark Knight Rises.
Might we get, you know … another person in the bat suit? (Sorry to be vague, but we’re avoiding spoilers for the sake of ultra-latecomers). That’s certainly possible — and much more likely if the studio does decide to backtrack and create crossover between the films. But with the ill-conceived Superman Returns in 2006, the Warner Bros. got a taste of what happens when you try to continue the tone of an earlier, beloved series with a different star and filmmaker. Better just to start fresh.
My prediction is that the studio will simply reboot Batman, creating another lucrative series that happens to be connected to Man of Steel and the other movies, while The Dark Knight trilogy will continue to stand alone in its own self-contained universe, forever preserving Nolan’s interpretation while clearing the way for a new one to come along.
We’ll find out sooner or later, but the thing that seems definite is this: Man of Steel will kick down the door for other DC heroes.
So who would you like to see come through that door next?
Personally, I’d like to see them get Wonder Woman right. She’s long overdue.
Bill "Jett" Ramey wrote: Via EW.COM, here's what Jeff Robinov of Warner Bros. had to say about MAN OF STEEL and the future of DC on film...Is MAN OF STEEL the beginning of a cinematic DCU on film?
"I think you’ll see that, going forward, anything can live in this world. [Nolan’s] Batman was deliberately and smartly positioned as a stand-alone. The world they lived in was very isolated without any knowledge of any other superheroes. What Zack and Chris have done with this film is allow you to really introduce other characters into the same world."
Are any DC on film announcements coming from WB?
"We’ll announce something in the next several weeks that will hopefully position the DC characters and the movies we’re going to be making."
Do Chris Nolan's DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY of films stand entirely alone?
"They do. Or they did. Where we go in the future is a whole other conversation."
Is the rumor about Chris Nolan producing and Christian Bale starring in a Justice League film true?
"No, no it’s not."
Then there's the great David Goyer's take..."One of the things we dealt with on the Batman films is, Chris dislikes it when you plan something, when you say, ‘I’m going to follow this up in the next film. He’s always said put everything you have into this film and then worry about the next film later. That gives the film its own integrity as opposed to being part of an overall plan. So of course the comic book fans, it’s hard not to think about [crossovers] but I, having done three Batman films and worked in that way, it’s definitely the approach we took with MAN OF STEEL."
OK, my turn...
Mr. Goyer and Mr. Nolan are damn right.
When you start to make a film and you’re already thinking about and planning for what’s next, you’re setting yourself up for creative failure. The fact that Mr. Nolan really did take his Batman films one at a time, and was adamantly (in his own classy “Nolan” way) against the cross-pollination of DC on film, was a bold stance – especially in light of Marvel’s success with everything that involved THE AVENGERS.
I believe that time will prove that Mr. Nolan’s “blueprint” for comic book movies will be the one that’s followed in the future. Why? Because it’s the least creatively restricting path for any filmmaker worth his salt to take.
If you’re a filmmaker who has a comic book movie story to tell, would you really want to be handcuffed by another director’s vision and aesthetic?
Regardless, I have no doubt that if...IF...there there is a Justice League movie in the future, Henry Cavill will play Superman in it. However, I'm betting that we'll see a MOS sequel or two before any JL film.
Don't read anything into Robinov's "They do. Or they did." statement when it comes to Nolan's "Dark Knight Trilogy." It's over folks, period. And if if the studio could use (i.e. "hijack") "Nolan's Batman" in a potential JL film, they won't. Mr. Nolan doesn't want it to happen, thus, it ain't going to happen. Do you really think the studio would piss off Mr. Nolan over a Justice League movie? Please! Batman will be rebooted shortly with a Batman that can fit within a cinematic DC universe. Here's what the author of the EW story had to say..."When Robinov said 'They do. Or they did,' I at first took that to mean he was leaving the possibility open to retroactively link-up those three most recent Batman films with upcoming DC-based films. But as I listen to the conversation again, I suspect what he actually meant was that upcoming Batman films wouldn’t necessarily exist in their own closed-off world the way the previous ones did.
I doubt Nolan’s 'Dark Knight' series will be joined up with the new Superman or Justice League films because Nolan created a story that had a fully realized arc and a definite ending. Reintroducing Bale’s Bruce Wayne in a superhero team-up movie would necessitate answering questions the filmmaker deliberately left open-ended at the conclusion of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES."
"My prediction is that the studio will simply reboot Batman, creating another lucrative series that happens to be connected to Man of Steel and the other movies, while 'The Dark Knight trilogy' will continue to stand alone in its own self-contained universe, forever preserving Nolan’s interpretation while clearing the way for a new one to come along."
Absolutely spot-on. Anyway...
Folks, this is Warner Bros. doing some damage control here. Make no mistake, the desire by the studio to have Nolan in charge of DC on film and for Bale to return to the role of Batman was real. The thing simply fell apart for whatever reason (*cough* Nolan doesn't want his "Trilogy" messed with! *cough*) after the possibility was leaked to the press. Now, they're having to tighten things up. Basically, Warner Bros. is circling the wagons by publicly saying that Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy” is safe, Batman on film is going to be rebooted, and there are more DC-based films coming after MAN OF STEEL.
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest