Looking to rival Disney for inspiration, the year-long tenure of David Sazlav as Warner Bros. Discovery CEO has been mired by controversies and business challenges. Here’s his first big step towards chasing down a slice of Marvel’s pie
This week saw a great deal of uproar and debate as Warner Bros. Discovery decided to shelf Batgirl after it spent over 90 million dollars and months of effort from the team, following subpar early reactions.
While the move — spearheaded by new CEO David Zaslav — seemed to hint toward new changes to come at the studios, the man himself has responded with a big statement, confirming that big things are in store across the next decade for the DC universe.
Speaking during the Warner Bros. Investors Call, Zaslav revealed a plan to revamp and ‘reset’ the DC Extended Universe across the coming years:
“We have done a reset,” established Zaslav.
“We’ve structured the business. There will be a team with a 10-year plan focusing just on DC. It’s very similar to the structure that Alan Horne and Bob Iger put together very effectively with Kevin Feige at Disney.
We think we could build a long-term, much more sustainable growth business out of DC, and as part of that, we’re going to focus on quality. We’re not going to release any film before it’s ready… The focus is going to be, how do we make each of these films, in general, as good as possible? DC is something we can make better, and we’re focused on it now.
We have some great DC films coming up. ‘Black Adam,’ ‘Shazam!,’ and ‘Flash.’ We’re working on all of those. We’ve seen them, and we think they’re terrific, and that we can make them even better. That’s what Mike [De Luca] and Pam [Abdy, Warner Bros.’ new motion picture heads] are doing.”
The CEO also went on to praise the Warner IPs, which include several DC superheroes and Harry Potter — albeit a little backhandedly. “Between DC, the animation group, together with the entire Warner library, our ambition is to bring Warner back.”
In a nutshell, Zaslav isn’t wrong for criticising the state of Warner Bros., which has tanked severely compared it its rivals. Some underperforming films, such as 2021’s The Suicide Squad was written off as a Covid casualty, while others such as The Matrix Resurrections seems to have been written off by critics as well for being ‘unoriginal’ and ‘disjointed’.
Ultimately, however, much of the issues plaguing Warner Bros. are also off-screen — and not necessarily related to its finances. The Justice League debacle was, of course, tragically set forth after Snyder’s daughter’s death in 2017, and resulted in fans waiting multiple years for a version of the film that delivered more, while still seeming vaguely incomplete. Then there’s the Fantastic Beasts series, which was marred by Johnny Depp’s swift exit following court rulings that labelled the actor a ‘wife-beater’. Somewhat paradoxically, Zaslav has gone on to praise Ezra Miller’s The Flash in the message above, despite the actor’s many controversies regarding allegations of assault, disorderly conduct, and harassment.
Ultimately, Zaslav’s ‘tough love’ approach to rebuilding the DCEU will take time and effort to fix — there’s a multifaceted crisis at play here that involves plenty of moving parts, including the yet unaddressed The Batman flick.
What we do know is that the CEO is boldly aiming to 180-degree turn the entire ship around, and is willing to sever ties to the Snyderverse if that’s what it takes.
Lead Image: Warner Bros.