Well, this was only a matter of time.
With Justice League performing well below expectations with just $571 million worldwide so far, there’s a DC shakeup in the works, as Jon Berg will be leaving Warner Bros. to partner with producer Roy Lee, who has a deal on the lot. Berg had creative direction over the DC properties along with chief creative officer Geoff Johns, whose role on the comic book films may evolve and become more advisory in nature going forward, according to a bombshell report from Variety.
While one might assume that Justice League practically forced Toby Emmerich to take action, the president of Warner Bros. Picture Group actually said that Berg approached him six months ago with the desire to be a producer at the studio, rather than an executive. Is that a polite cover? I don’t know. But the timing is certainly suspicious. To this day, Justice League’s domestic haul is still behind the opening weekend of Marvel’s The Avengers.
“We’re thrilled that Jon is partnering with Roy, and anticipate their company being a valuable source of movies for Warner Bros. and New Line,” Emmerich said in a statement that made me wonder if Kevin Tsujihara had better things to do than address this problem… like addressing Johnny Depp’s role in the studio’s Fantastic Beasts franchise.
Variety reports that Emmerich will immediately look to hire a new executive to oversee the DCEU, and that he’s considering integrating DC’s film operations into the main studio. Right now, DC has its own building on the lot, though I’m not sure how sharing a roof with the rest of Warners staff is going to fix this humdrum movie universe, which has bigger problems than real estate. Expect all of this to be worked out by January once Hollywood rings in the new year.
Meanwhile, as for the DC films themselves, it’s safe to say we’ll see Ben Affleck playing Batman at least once more in the planned Flashpoint movie, but Variety confirms the Internet scuttlebutt that Matt Reeves is looking to recast the role for his upcoming standalone film.
As for Zack Snyder, there are no plans for him to direct another DC movie (even Time Warner execs are said to be unhappy with him), but he’s still a producer or executive producer on several superhero titles such as Wonder Woman 2 and Aquaman, and since he still has a production deal with Warners, he could still direct other films for the studio, including The Last Photograph.
Think of today’s news like ripping off a Band-Aid. You knew it was going to hurt, but it simply had to be done. Berg and Johns may be hardcore fanboys who know these DC properties inside and out, but sometimes that can pose a problem, since these films are trying to appeal to all audiences, not just fans of the comics. On a purely storytelling level, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League, and especially Suicide Squad were just ghastly and embarrassing. Someone at Warner Bros. has to realize that most of us don’t want to see CGI villains like Steppenwolf, who means nothing to a majority of the audience.
In conclusion, I think Roy Lee’s company will be a nice landing spot for Berg that should give him a chance to spread his wings, while Johns has plenty of other DC projects to tend to, such as TV shows, comics and consumer products. Something had to give within the movie universe, and now, it has. Here’s hoping brighter days are ahead for the DCEU, because they certainly can’t get much darker. Your move, Aquaman.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief