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James Gunn and Peter Safran Named DC Studios CEOs by Warner Bros. Discovery

The "Suicide Squad" and "Peacemaker" writer/director joins forces with "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" producer to oversee DC.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 23: James Gunn speaks onstage at the Marvel Cinematic Universe Mega-Panel during 2022 Comic-Con International Day 3 at San Diego Convention Center on July 23, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

James Gunn

Getty Images

James Gunn and Peter Safran are officially taking over the DCU.

The “Suicide Squad” and “Peacemaker” director is joining forces with “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” producer to both serve as co-chairmen and CEOs of DC Studios, IndieWire can confirm. The duo will be responsible for the overall creative direction of the storied superhero franchise across film, TV, and animation under new unified banner at Warner Bros. Discovery.

Gunn and Safran will report to David Zaslav, Chief Executive Officer, Warner Bros. Discovery, and will work closely with Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy, Co-Chairpersons and CEOs of Warner Bros. Film Group. The appointments will be effective on November 1.

In their new roles, Gunn and Safran will spearhead the development and execution of a long-term plan for the many properties licensed from DC Comics, focused on continuing the tradition of high-quality storytelling for the DC Universe across audio-visual media, while building a sustainable growth business out of the iconic franchise. In addition to their executive responsibilities, Gunn and Safran will develop, direct, and produce projects. In their new roles, they will also work collaboratively with Channing Dungey, Chairman, Warner Bros. Television Group; Casey Bloys, Chairman and CEO, HBO and HBO Max Content; Kathleen Finch, Chairman and Chief Content Officer, US Networks Group; Pam Lifford, President, Warner Bros. Discovery Consumer Products; and David Haddad, President, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

Both Gunn and Safran have extensive experience with the superhero genre having brought some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Universe’s most popular characters to life in hit films and series that include: Marvel’s blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy”, and DC’s highest-grossing movie, “Aquaman”; “Shazam!”; “The Suicide Squad”; and the HBO Max original, live-action series “Peacemaker.”

Zaslav commented on the news, saying, “DC has among the most entertaining, powerful, and iconic characters in the world and I am thrilled to have the singular and complementary talents of James and Peter joining our world-class team and overseeing the creative direction of the storied DC Universe. Their decades of experience in filmmaking, close ties to the creative community, and proven track record thrilling superhero fans around the globe make them uniquely qualified to develop a long-term strategy across film, TV, and animation, and take this iconic franchise to the next level of creative storytelling.”

Gunn and Safran said in a joint statement, “We’re honored to be the stewards of these DC characters we’ve loved since we were children. We look forward to collaborating with the most talented writers, directors, and actors in the world to create an integrated, multilayered universe that still allows for the individual expression of the artists involved. Our commitment to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Harley Quinn, and the rest of the DC stable of characters is only equaled by our commitment to the wonder of human possibility these characters represent. We’re excited to invigorate the theatrical experience around the world as we tell some of the biggest, most beautiful, and grandest stories ever told. We’re especially enthusiastic about doing all of this with Mike, Pam, Casey, Channing, and the whole Warner Bros. Discovery team, and are grateful to David Zaslav, whose bold vision for the future of the franchise we share and allows for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Most of all, we can’t wait to bring you all into the story of the DCU.”

De Luca and Abdy added, “We could not be more excited to have James Gunn and Peter Safran join the team and assume the leadership of the DC Universe. James is a brilliant filmmaker and storyteller and Peter is a tremendously successful and prolific producer and to have them both committing to work together to forge this new era for DC is a literal dream come true. We all share a very similar sensibility and passion for this universe and the stars couldn’t have aligned any better. We can’t wait to get started, dig in, and collaborate with these unmatched creative minds.”

Below, read Zaslav’s announcement of Gunn and Safran’s appointments.

All,

We are thrilled to announce that two of the industry’s most talented and experienced filmmakers, James Gunn and Peter Safran, will be joining our team on November 1 in the new roles of Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers of DC Studios, overseeing the overall creative direction of the DC Universe across film, TV, and animation. As we make this transition to unify the creative expression of DC under a single banner, we are grateful to Walter Hamada for his many contributions to both DC and New Line over the years.

I’ve spent the last few months talking in-depth with James and Peter about the future of the DC Universe and am more excited than ever about where the franchise is headed with them at the helm. They will report to me and will work closely with Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy as well as our other creative business executives, Channing Dungey, Casey Bloys, Kathleen Finch, Pam Lifford, and David Haddad. We now have the full leadership team in place… and the team is experienced and strong.

One of the great strengths of our company is our unmatched collection of IP that includes many of the most beloved superheroes of all time… Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and now Black Adam, to name just a few. For over 60 years, these and other DC characters have captivated and inspired generations of fans around the world… and as stewards of the iconic franchise, we feel a real responsibility to preserve and expand the DCU for the enjoyment of future generations. In many ways, we have only begun to scratch the surface. James and Peter have a broad vision for DC storytelling and how it all fits together, and they plan to create even more compelling and unforgettable experiences for DC fans worldwide, while building a sustainable growth business out of the iconic franchise.

James and Peter have extensive experience in the superhero genre having brought some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Universe’s most popular characters to life in hit films and series, including: Marvel’s blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, and DC’s highest grossing movie, Aquaman; Shazam!; The Suicide Squad, and the spin-off series for HBO Max, Peacemaker. They are highly respected by creatives and talent alike and bring their own deep love and appreciation for the characters and stories of the DCU to their new roles. As they told me, this is a passion project for them, not just a job… and that is sure to be evident in their storytelling.

When James was 10 years old, growing up in Missouri, he went to a comic book convention with his dad and that experience, he said, changed his life forever. He would escape into his own world with comic books, and he began to draw and write his own comics and started making movies when he was just 11 years old. That set him off on his creative journey as a filmmaker and storyteller. His experience also demonstrates the real power of these characters to inspire audiences of all ages.

Peter has worked extensively in both the horror and superhero genres and has produced several hit movies and series for Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line, including the entire Conjuring universe, which is the most successful horror franchise of all time at $2B+ in worldwide box office and counting. He and James have collaborated on numerous projects over the years and have a close working relationship. In fact, they told me one of the things that appealed most to them about this opportunity was the chance to lead DC Studios together.

We could not ask for a better team to run DC and are so excited to welcome them to WBD next week. Please join me in wishing James and Peter much success!

David

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