Discovery and AT&T’s WarnerMedia sent shock waves through the entertainment world with their May 17th announcement of a merger. Led by Discovery CEO David Zaslav, the new entity will be called Warner Bros. Discovery. The emphasis on Warner Bros is due to the company’s slogan, “the stuff that dreams are made of” which hails from The Maltese Falcon, a classic Warner Bros. film. Now that the contractual part of the megadeal is over, fans have started to wonder what sort of effect this would have on the popular DC films franchise.
During Tuesday’s company town hall in Burbank, California AT&T CEO John Stankey and Zaslav shared their vision for the future. Zaslav said that his “number one priority” would be building “relationships with the creative community”. He also plans to spend time in Los Angeles, New York, and “anywhere in the world” talent is based to seek out the best creative culture. This will obviously include a new plan for the DC films.
The deal essentially unites Warner Bros. and Discovery’s collection of streaming and cable channels. But with David Zaslav at the helm, the company’s approach to movie making and DC films could shift as he is known for turning over management teams and shifting strategic gears quickly when results are not to his liking.”
It’s no secret that WarnerMedia has been struggling financially and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic just made matters worse. This led to Warner Media’s revolutionary decision to release each of its 2021 films in theaters and on HBO Max concurrently. This includes The Suicide Squad, the latest entry in the DC films series.
This allowed the studio to maximize their movies as revenue events on its streaming service, while still helping theaters that have opted to remain open. But the move did not bode well with filmmakers which Zaslav is probably acutely aware of. Additionally, the success of Zack Snyder’s Justice League also confirmed that WarnerMedia may have been a little out of touch with what viewers want in regards to DC films.
The studio’s haphazardly assembled DC films didn’t achieve the same box office success as their counterparts at Marvel. This is something the new boss may want to change. If rumors are to be believed Zaslav is already working on a plan to restructure the DC Extended Universe to mirror Marvel Studios.
However, this will not affect the style, storytelling, or creative process. Instead, the focus is on finding a central figure to be in charge of their film and TV properties – like Kevin Feige’s role at Marvel Studios. This could essentially lead to a restored SnyderVerse and an interconnected DC Extended Universe that fans of DC films really care about. And with streaming services in the mix, we could see a replica of Disney+ and Marvel’s success with streaming series.
While none of this is confirmed, it does seem like Warner Bros. Discovery is on the right track with DC films and the rest of their goals. During Tuesday’s press conference Zaslav stressed that he wants the company to be the place where people who want creativity can find it.
He also said that the story of the Warner Brothers is the story of everyone in the industry. Adding that, “success is about creative talent in front of the screen and behind the screen, and fighting for the culture that creates that vision.”