Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav stunned listeners to Thursday’s Q2 earnings call when he seemed to confirm that “The Flash” will still be released, unlike poor unfortunate “Batgirl,” which the company shelved this week to have a tax writeoff.
The announcement is stunning given star Ezra Miller’s rolling public meltdown, which goes far beyond the norm for even a troubled star and includes multiple arrests and allegations of abuse, grooming, and assault.
“We have some great DC films coming up: ‘Black Adam,’ ‘Shazam,’ and ‘Flash,'” Zaslav said, in response to a question about the shelving of “Batgirl.”
“Warner Bros Motion Picture group has fantastic IP and history — they’re turning 100,” Zaslav said. “The DC, Animation group, plus the entire Warner library means we’re looking to bring Warner back and produce high-quality films. DC is at the top of the list for us. Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman — these are brands known all over the world. We’ve restructured with a team that will have a 10-year plan just focusing on DC, much like Alan Horn and Bob Iger put together with Feige at Disney. We’re not going to release a film before it’s ready. We’re not going to release a film a quarter. But DC is something we think we can make better. We have some great DC films coming up: ‘Black Adam,’ ‘Shazam,’ and ‘Flash.'”
The “Flash” mention does not seem random, as these investor calls are highly scripted. Let the speculation begin: Will Warner Bros. Discovery just release the film, directed by “It” helmer Andy Muschietti, as is? Will they push back the release date and recast Miller? Those questions went unaddressed. But the film clearly will be released, and it will be released in theaters.
Zaslav went out of his way to talk about the financial infeasibility of releasing blockbusters with nine-figure budgets directly to HBO Max — the explanation for “Batgirl” being scrapped, despite $90 million having been spent on it and a seven-month shoot having wrapped some time ago.
“The idea of expensive films going direct to streaming: We cannot find an economic value for it,” Zaslav said. “As part of that, we’ve been out in the town talking about our commitment to theatrical exhibition and the theatrical window. Then when we bring them to HBO Max [after that window], they will have more value. That’s why most people moved to this business: to be on the big screen. The economic model is much stronger. And the emphasis will be on quality.”