“We’re not concerned with the drop. No matter how you slice it, to get to $52 million on any given weekend is an enormous accomplishment. We’re most focused on where we are in total. And our global number is huge,” a Warner Bros. spokesman said after last weekend’s 69% box office slide for “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice.” In fairness, the movie will cross $700 million worldwide this week, and will likely hit the magic $800 million marker the $300 million needs to earn to save face. As for $1 billion worldwide? That’s a different question, but it would be naive to think that the studio, watching ‘Batman v Superman’ flop with critics and most audiences, and still reeling from a string of expensive misfires like “Pan,” “Jupiter Ascending,” and “In The Heart Of The Sea” might not be looking to change the game plan a bit.
THR reports that according to their sources, WB plans to produce fewer films than usual, while putting a greater focus on tentpoles in their DC Films, Lego, and “Harry Potter” franchises. Moreover, it’s apparently becoming trickier to get a green light at the studio at the moment, unless you’re Ben Affleck, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan or Todd Phillips, filmmakers that are valued assets in the WB roster.
Of course, the studio denies there are any such changes taking place and point to the fact they are releasing eighteen movies this year, and nineteen next year. For me, the biggest question is: if your big, expensive movies are flopping or underperforming, why would you double down on more of them? Wouldn’t the solution be to invest in more mid-size, modestly budgeted pictures so you have a more diverse slate? But hey, I just mash a keyboard and don’t run a studio, so what do I know? And investors are probably more dazzled by movies making hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars than otherwise, even if the profit margins are slim.
For now, “Justice League Part One” starts shooting on Monday and the studio is preparing to release “Suicide Squad” this summer (with extensive reshoots reportedly going on right now to course-correct what is apparently a more serious than expected picture). As for changes at WB, I’d pay attention to their upcoming DC Films slate — I can’t imagine it will press on as planned without some retooling, with a priority to get Affleck to suit up in a solo Batman movie. After all, a script is done.