The DC Extended Universe live-action movie, The Wonder Twins, has been canceled by HBO Max. The news comes just weeks after Riverdale’s KJ Apa and 1883 star Isabel May had been cast as the popular shape-shifting siblings, Zan and Jayna. Production was set to begin in July, with Adam Sztykiel directing and penning the script. Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey were reported as producers for the project which was a joint venture between DC Films, Temple Hill Entertainment, and HBO Original Films.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project was on the chopping block several weeks ago as a casualty of the newly minted Warner Bros. Discovery partnership. It forms part of David Zaslav’s mandate that DC movies should be developed with a theatrical-first goal. The Wonder Twins was said to be “too niche” for mainstream audiences and was subsequently scrapped. The move also follows the CEO’s pledge to cut around $3 billion in costs as part of the merger. The HBO movie reportedly carried a budget of $75 million.
Unlike The Wonder Twins, Zaslav wants HBO Max original films to stick to budgets of $35 million and under. The decision was made as higher-budget offerings didn’t bring in enough cash/subscribers. And projects with a lower cost seemed to retain streaming customers just fine. Meanwhile, theatrical movies attracted new people in truckloads, with The Batman raking in huge numbers for the streamer following its cinematic run.
Like The Wonder Twins, a lot of things that were developed are “going to go away,” an insider told the publication. Seen as an attempted faceoff with Marvel, Zaslav vetted very specific candidates before the merger was finalized. He was looking for people with experience creating and nurturing blockbuster intellectual property to find someone with a vision similar to Kevin Feige’s.
One of those candidates included Emma Watts, a former top film executive at 20th Century Studios and Paramount, Variety reported in April. But it doesn’t seem like she will take the job since Zaslav is more interested in finding someone with business savvy to keep all the elements of DC in synergy. That said, he is less bothered with finding a creative who can make a project like The Wonder Twins a success.
Although the plot for The Wonder Twins had been kept under wraps, the story would have followed the pair of alien siblings from the planet Exxor. Zan and Jayna were first introduced in the 1977 animated series, The All-New Super Friends Hour from Hanna-Barbera. Due to their popularity, the siblings also appeared in comics based on the animated series. And they were later introduced into the main DC Comics Universe.
The superhero duo activate their powers by touching hands while saying the phrase “Wonder Twin powers, activate!” Jayna transforms into any animal and Zan can become water in any state. They also have a pet monkey named Gleek, who helps with their crime-fighting adventures. The Wonder Twins have starred in DC-themed shows like the animated series Teen Titans Go! and the live-action television series Smallville. Characters bearing those names also appeared in the first season of The Flash.