Author Topic: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!  (Read 490 times)

Offline perc2100

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DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« on: August 03, 2022, 08:11:17 PM »
In the Current Events: Media Chat thread, this light discussion came up:
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Yeah the new execs from the new ownership are really throwing things in turmoil.  They're dropping the nearly-completed BATGIRL as well as the Scooby-Do sequel film SCOOB: HIOLIDY HAUNT.  Not only that, I read this morning that HBO Max quietly dropped a half dozen 'HBO Max Exclusive' films in order to not have to pay residuals to talent for low-performing content. You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
This _could_ be as simple as 1) cost-cutting and 2) new executive dumping old executives projects: a not-uncommon thing with Hollywood studios.  Crazy, though, to dump $90m in a film and not even shift it to HBO Max.

Will be curious to see what they do w/THE FLASH next June...
You know, the more I think about this the more it's hard to not argue that Warner Bros handling of the DC Extend Universe has been the biggest studio blunder of the 21st Century.  "The Flash," CW's series, is ending after it's 9th season/150+ episodes: it debuted a few weeks before Ezra Miller's FLASH film was announced.  Originally set for release in March 2018, the Flash film was announced along with other DCEU films such as THE CYBORG solo movie, JUSTICE LEAGUE 2, and GREEN LANTERN CORPS.  Now the remnants of that DCEU feel not unlike a graveyard of movies that never were, with projects crashing and burning for one reason or another.

All the while, released DCEU films, many helmed and shepherded by Zach Snyder, failed to meet either critical or financial expectations.  While bright spots like the Wonder Woman series had massive misfire for a sequel, with AQUAMAN 2 being a current unknown. 

There have been high points, with films that mostly ignored the DCEU or merely tiptoed in its puddles.  SHAZAM did good business and was critically received, while THE SUICIDE SQUAD was critically acclaimed albeit did bad business when released amidst a pandemic + day-and-date streaming (though it was one of HBO Max's biggest streaming films of all-time upon streaming release, and was well-liked enough by WB execs that they green lit a "Peacemaker" spinoff series that did well & was green lit for a 2nd season).  There was also the 'else worlds'-esque JOKER film that made $1 billion+, won awards, and has a sequel on the way (with a release date announced this week).

What will the future hold?  For the DCEU continuity that feels mostly dead, with Aquaman kicking around until he proves not financially viable, Wonder Woman being unknown, and a Flash film set for release next summer that will certainly be a marketing nightmare for WB with its title name star in hiding and wanted for at least questioning for several felonies.  Blue Beetle is also on the horizon, along with what we saw in Hall H with the Shazam sequel and BLACK ADAM looking promising.

But those films are already done or almost done (not that that stopped WB for canning BATGIRL for what now seems to be a tax write-off, meaning it will never be allowed to be released for any sort of financial profit).  I would find it hard to imagine creatives wanting to get in business with WB Discovery anytime soon; hell, I haven't even gotten into the debacle that will likely be announced Thursday at their quarterly earnings call that will likely spell the beginning of the end for HBO Max, to be folded into Discovery+.  They already canceled series that already had complete seasons in the can!  Oh, and this was AFTER the old regime ticked off creatives by going day-and-date release on HBO Max in 2021 w/out working out deals with directors & actors first, or even really telling them before it hit the press!

Don't get me wrong: I'm a big DC fan.  I grew up preferring DC comics over Marvel, grew up with the Reeve Superman films and was in HS (or almost in HS) for the Burton BATMAN films: two comic book series that literally changed the game & began to pave the way for the renaissance of comic films & series we have nowadays with Marvel Studios!  I even think HBO Max is easily the best streaming service out there when it comes to films and variety: they have TCM classic films (as well as Cartoon Network series, among many others)!!  The current CEO has been at Discovery a long time and has been at the top of overseeing garbage reality TV programming over quality scripted programming.  I hope WB Discovery can steer what feels like a quickly sinking ship around sooner than later.  But it's really hard thinking things won't get much worse for HBO Max/DC/WB Discovery before they get better: and I don't see things getting better anytime in the near or near-distant future. 

Offline Mel

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2022, 11:18:20 PM »
Word is that the new CEO wants to kill HBO Max. The Batgirl movie was an HBO Max original as was the Scoob! movie. Neither were meant for wide theatrical release.

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Online alyssa

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2022, 09:44:51 AM »
so house of dragons is next ?


no citation, just wild speculation on my part
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Offline perc2100

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2022, 10:01:55 AM »
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so house of dragons is next ?


no citation, just wild speculation on my part
It's hard telling: that's certainly a very expensive series, but I think that's also an HBO series, not an HBO Max exclusive?  It would appear the new guy in charge is mostly dismantling HBO Max (which is a damned shame, since IMO it's the best streamer for movies + HBO's series legit invented prestige TV + many other factors - Studio Ghibli, adult swim, Loony Tunes, etc).
I've been an HBO Max subscriber from the beginning, mostly because I've been an HBO app subscriber for a loooong time: I'm really hating seeing it dismantled like this  :(

Offline accelerate

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2022, 10:52:47 AM »
Slightly off-topic, whatever happened to the plans for merging HBO Max with Discovery+? I've pretty much gone through all the sciency-stuff in the library, and I'm kinda holding onto Discovery+ only because of the potential consolidation of the two services.

Offline chocolateshake

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2022, 11:20:33 AM »
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Slightly off-topic, whatever happened to the plans for merging HBO Max with Discovery+? I've pretty much gone through all the sciency-stuff in the library, and I'm kinda holding onto Discovery+ only because of the potential consolidation of the two services.

We'll find out in a few hours when they announce earnings and future plans.  But I think it's already been mentioned that there will be sharing of content on the various services.  Discovery content on HBO Max and CNN content on Discovery.

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It's hard telling: that's certainly a very expensive series, but I think that's also an HBO series, not an HBO Max exclusive?

More specifically, Batgirl is a made for steaming movie.  That seems to be what's being cut, not a series like House of Dragons.  I think the goal is to have all future DC movies be theatrical releases.  Batgirl the streaming movie is not good enough for that.  So in the end it's worth more to Time Warner to take it as a write down than release it in any form.

I think this is a fall out of the various pandemic era strategies.  Time Warner decided to release their films straight to streaming.  Paramount held Top Gun until the pandemic lightened enough for theaters to reopen.  Top Gun made a killing.  Releasing straight to streaming didn't.  It did boost subscribers but recent Netflix results have shown that adding subscribers for adding subscribers sake is not a good long term strategy.  Those subscribers need to be monetized.

So I think the strategy shift for TW is that movies should be released theatrically first, then eventually go to streaming.  The old model.  That's where the money is.  The strategy for the last couple of years of direct to streaming isn't working.  Thus the made for streaming movies are being cut.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2022, 11:23:45 AM by chocolateshake »

Offline perc2100

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2022, 03:59:59 PM »
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Slightly off-topic, whatever happened to the plans for merging HBO Max with Discovery+? I've pretty much gone through all the sciency-stuff in the library, and I'm kinda holding onto Discovery+ only because of the potential consolidation of the two services.
According to their earnings call today, that _will_ be happening in 2023: in the US, sometime summer of 2023

Offline perc2100

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2022, 04:23:39 PM »
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We'll find out in a few hours when they announce earnings and future plans.  But I think it's already been mentioned that there will be sharing of content on the various services.  Discovery content on HBO Max and CNN content on Discovery.

More specifically, Batgirl is a made for steaming movie.  That seems to be what's being cut, not a series like House of Dragons.  I think the goal is to have all future DC movies be theatrical releases.  Batgirl the streaming movie is not good enough for that.  So in the end it's worth more to Time Warner to take it as a write down than release it in any form.

I think this is a fall out of the various pandemic era strategies.  Time Warner decided to release their films straight to streaming.  Paramount held Top Gun until the pandemic lightened enough for theaters to reopen.  Top Gun made a killing.  Releasing straight to streaming didn't.  It did boost subscribers but recent Netflix results have shown that adding subscribers for adding subscribers sake is not a good long term strategy.  Those subscribers need to be monetized.

So I think the strategy shift for TW is that movies should be released theatrically first, then eventually go to streaming.  The old model.  That's where the money is.  The strategy for the last couple of years of direct to streaming isn't working.  Thus the made for streaming movies are being cut.
I think, based on verbiage used in the earnings call, that there will be little/no 'exclusive' streaming content moving forward.  If WBD can release something in theaters (maybe w/a shorter window for some likely lesser-performing films), so be it.  But I think both exclusive series & films that are ONLY meant to stream on HBO Max are a thing of the past.
As for BATGIRL, I think we can look at it one or maybe two ways:
1. what you said - it was a streaming-only thing and WBD doesn't want to do that anymore
BUT ALSO
2. it _will_ be used as a $90 million tax write-off so it will essentially be shelved in perpetuity.

I've read from some former Discovery employees on social media that this type of thing is par for the course for this current executive: a sort of slash-and-burn talent/employees in order to maximize profits (and we're not talking _losing_ profit, we're talking about "profits weren't as high as we wanted them" - WB still had significant revenue first quarter 2022 compared w/1st quarter 2021).  IMO following the earnings call, this is not going to be good for consumers; they're likely going to make some stuff only available on HBO to subscribers while other 'content' will be combined w/Discovery+ HBO Max merger (likely at what I can only presume to be a higher cost).  It sounded like they're also interested in licensing other IP, which will take more off of HBO Max.

As a long-time HBO Max subscriber, none of this is pleasing to me.  There's a reason I'm not a Discovery+ subscriber (because I mostly don't care about non-scripted "reality" TV), and I'm not interested in paying more for an HBO subscription and getting less content with added Discovery+ garbage "added."

THAT ALL BEING SAID....

I didn't mean for this thread to be about the HBO Max/WB Discover fiasco.  I was thinking explicitly about the DCEU approach that WB has had now for nearly a decade that they have fumbled BADLY (and I'm not even counting their soft Superman reboot awhile back with SUPERMAN RETURNS, though its financial shortcomings and 'meh' critical reception almost certainly led WB towards Snyder's radically different Superman interpretation).  The stories are intertwined, for sure, I was just being a bit more explicit about how multiple WB top executives keep fumbling the DC brand.

And it'll come as no surprise that on today's call there was comparison with Marvel Studios' handling of their brand, and how DC will emulate them (again).  It was said that there is an entire team dedicated to enacting a 10 year plan of DC properties (again).

Sounds very similar to 2014's announcement:

* 2016 BATMAN v SUPERMAN & SUICIDE SQUAD
* 2017 WONDER WOMAN & JUSTICE LEAGUE part 1
* 2018 THE FLASH + AQUAMAN + 'Untitled DC Film'
* 2019 SHAZAM + JUSTICE LEAGUE part 2 + Untitled DC film
* 2020 CYBORG & GREEN LANTERN CORPS

Only today there was no actual announcement (it was a financial call, after all).  I suspect there will be a FanDome announcement, and I was kinda surprised there wasn't one announced today.  2021 FanDome was October 16, so there is still plenty of time for WBD to get their act together for that.  IMO, this is in the _very_ early stages and I suspect WBD doesn't really know what they're doing yet other than telling investors "we plan on copying the strategy of the hottest studio of the last 10+ years" (though they have no problems introducing characters in streaming series that will then feature in theatrical films, ala John Walker who will almost certainly be in THUNDERBOLTS, or Ms. Marvel who will feature in MARVELS).  This feels more like a slight knee-jerk reaction to the company having financial issues from 2021's plan of day-and-date streaming/theatrical releases.

Also, I think they may have a difficult time convincing talent to go with them: completely yanking a movie from release that's nearly finished for the seeming purpose of a tax write-off (and believe me: no matter what WBD says publicly to control spin, the perception is this was a cash-dump) is not the way to win over creatives.  BAD BOYS FOR LIFE directing team sounded pretty upset about this movie dumping their BATGIRL, and while there's a definite asterisk to the title that film WAS the highest-grossing film of 2020.

Reminder that "Peacemaker" was an HBO Max-exclusive, and short of making it both an HBO series that will stream on Max, regardless of what James Gunn thinks/says publicly right now I suspect there's nothing stopping WBD from pulling the plug on its 2nd season (that at best is in really early pre-production, and may not be anything more than some scripts-written)

Offline chocolateshake

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2022, 12:06:06 PM »
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BUT ALSO
2. it _will_ be used as a $90 million tax write-off so it will essentially be shelved in perpetuity.

Yep, that's what I meant by write down.

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Reminder that "Peacemaker" was an HBO Max-exclusive, and short of making it both an HBO series that will stream on Max, regardless of what James Gunn thinks/says publicly right now I suspect there's nothing stopping WBD from pulling the plug on its 2nd season (that at best is in really early pre-production, and may not be anything more than some scripts-written)

I don't think that's going to happen.  If it was going to get cancelled, the best time for that would have been yesterday.  The best time to announce bad news is when your stock is getting hammered.  It's best to get it out all at once.

The new CEO isn't shy about cancelling things.  He cancelled the $300 million CNN+ service a month after launch.  But that's an example of his emphasis.  He wants quality over quantity.  Honestly, I never understood the point of CNN+.  CNN is already a cable network and a cnn.com was already a service that streamed.  What was the value added of CNN+?

Quality is the elephant in the room in regards to the Batgirl movie.  It seems it simply wasn't good.  If I remember right, a quote reported from a test screening was that it "wasn't bad".  That's not a resounding endorsement.  So in the end, I think that was the main reason it was cancelled.  It just wasn't good.  Which goes back to the subject of this thread.  The new CEO seems to agree with your sentiments.  That's why he's doing a reset of the DC properties.  He wants a MCU like future for it.  With quality products that can be released theatrically.  Theaters first, streaming later.

It's just not Batgirl that's been cancelled, Raised by Wolves was also cancelled.  I love Ridley Scott, I love science fiction.  So of course I watched it, both seasons.  But TBH, I was surprised when it got renewed for a second season.  It's not good.  I think I referred to it as a 70's era B movie when it came out.

There's also another factor with the strategy change.  Warner alienated a lot of talent with it's straight to streaming strategy.  Directors were outraged that their movies went straight to streaming.  I think this is an effort to rebuild bridges.

Offline perc2100

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2022, 12:12:32 PM »
Interesting update to this bit of current events:

WBD declared they were no longer creating films exclusively to stream on HBO Max: instead they'll create films for theatrical release, then for streaming.

Meanwhile, Hulu debuted PREY last weekend to not only high acclaim, but also record-breaking numbers: as well as doing gang-busters on Star+ or Disney+ in foreign markets.

Bottom line: there's isn't one way to release a film nowadays.  And at the end of the day, a _GOOD_ film will find its audience, be in theaters or streaming platform

Offline chocolateshake

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2022, 01:06:07 PM »
Unfortunately, like most streaming services, Hulu does not release numbers on individual products.  They only say things like it's the best performing product ever.  So it's hard to tell what that means.  It's a good movie.  I'm glad people are watching it.

In a twist, HBO Max played a role in why Prey didn't have a theatrical release.  Prey is a pre-merger Fox film.  By the merger agreement, if Disney released it in theaters then it would have been streamed on HBO Max.  It seems Disney didn't want it streamed on their streaming competitor.  So by foregoing the theatrical release and debuting it straight to streaming on Hulu, they were able to keep it off of HBO Max.

Offline perc2100

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2022, 02:56:22 PM »
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In a twist, HBO Max played a role in why Prey didn't have a theatrical release.  Prey is a pre-merger Fox film.  By the merger agreement, if Disney released it in theaters then it would have been streamed on HBO Max.  It seems Disney didn't want it streamed on their streaming competitor.  So by foregoing the theatrical release and debuting it straight to streaming on Hulu, they were able to keep it off of HBO Max.
:P :P :P
The plot thickens!

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Unfortunately, like most streaming services, Hulu does not release numbers on individual products.  They only say things like it's the best performing product ever.  So it's hard to tell what that means.  It's a good movie.  I'm glad people are watching it.
For sure.  I've read plenty of interviews/heard plenty of podcasts where showrunners have flat-out said streaming companies don't tell them viewership.  That's crazy that even showrunners, who presumably have some sort of financial stake when it comes to audience #'s, are kept in the dark about how much 'business' a streaming series gets.  Both the Ted Lasso folks last fall, and Ben Stiller w/Severance recently, have said Apple TV+ hasn't shared any audience numbers, but has merely told them "it's popular, we love it, we want to renew" or whatever.

Offline perc2100

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2022, 11:49:28 AM »
Hollywood Reporter article that talks a little bit more about recent WBD/DC film events:
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Quote
The mogul said there’d now be a team that would create a “10-year” plan for DC, although who’s on that team is unclear.

Of course, this is the 3rd "we have a mutli-/10-year plan!" type announcement DC/WB has made since their initial announcement of the Snyder-verse in 2013.  If I'm reading this article right, it seems they're maybe going to cut back the number of films released at a time going forward, and focus more on "quality."

Of course, the "quality" comment feels absolutely like a jab at the former CEO.  I mean, there isn't a film studio exec alive who doesn't want to release only "quality" films (and if I'm being blunt, Discovery Channel, where the current WBD CEO was last in charge before this promotion, is not exactly a bastion of high-quality original programming).  I mean, this is all smoke & mirrors at this time, and w/out any concrete announcements of whom is on the "team" of people developing a 10-year plan and what creatives will be part of that (this article DOES confirm that Peacemaker Season 2 + Blue Beatle are still part of the plans, as well as the Flash film already in the can).  Obviously that meant a lot more a month ago before WBD shelved a couple of nearly-completed films, but we'll see.  Taking them by their word the last regime did a good job of "right the ship," so to speak, and getting the DC brand back on track after the Synderverse didn't hit the way WB hoped it would.  I think Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav is in a fortuitous place with the most recent & upcoming DC films: set-up for the company to not really skip much of a beat while he maneuvers as he sees fit.  I'll be curious to see who is part of the future for WBD/DC films moving forward

Offline perc2100

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2022, 05:57:11 PM »
It was announced today that WBD is (again) moving the AQUAMAN sequel from March 2023 to December 2023, and also shifting the SHAZZAM sequel (again) from Aquaman's previous December 2022 slot to its more recent previous spring 2023 slot.  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

Also revealed today, BATGIRL screenings have happened on the WB lot, getting some "funeral screenings" so at least _some_ audience can see the shelved film: You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

And in seemingly related news, WB Discover has lost around $20billion in market cap trying to cut $3 Billion in costs  You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
Market Cap is estimated value, and obviously WBD being $50+billion in debt doesn't help its market cap.
Now, I'm no financial expert, but this feels not-that-good for WBD as its goal was to immediately save money by cutting significant costs.  They've cut costs, and have still taken a substantial market hit.  I saw today its stock DID bounce back a bit, so perhaps they'll recover; its stock has been down about 4% this year.  Investers are seemingly declaring they're unimpressed with WBD's current cuts as far as WBD value is concerned.  One (of the few) thing I do know about stocks is that its a long game, so who knows how effective WBD's current CEO will be.
That's not really a concern of mine, of course, since I'm neither a WBD accountant or share holder.

But as a movie nerd I would much prefer to view films (especially ones with appearances of Michael Keaton's Batman that may set up future films/stories) and make my own decision on what is/isn't a "good" movie.  I'm not a fan of WBD shelving films, yanking films and TV series off of HBO Max that don't even have any other viewing outlets (hi Gravity Falls  >:( ) so I'm no fan of this current WBD administration. 

Offline perc2100

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Re: DCEU biggest studio debacle of 21st century?!
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2022, 12:18:52 PM »
Another move from WBD in regards to the (sort of) DCEU.  A film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival that seems to be a satire of the Joker character: with the take that Joker is a trans person.  I haven't seen this, and after WBD issued a cease & desist order it's plausible _no one_ will see this outside of the folks who saw the first screening at TIFF (the other screenings were canceled, and while it's no longer in competition it can still with the Audience prize).
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Awhile back there was a film that made stealthily at Disneyland & Walt Disney World called ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW.  It premiered at some film festival where it got a LOT of talk for both the way it was shot in the parks (w/out permission) but also thematically featured the dark 'underbelly' of Disney.  Some of the park's characters, namely those who dress as princesses in the park, are shown to be hookers.  The film is about a dad who finds out he's fired on the last day of his family's vacation, and he tries to keep it together and hide the news from his family while his fragile mental state quickly devolves into madness.  To be blunt, that film is not good, and with the exception of the guts it took to make (it was edited in another country with very loose copyright laws as the filmmaker was afraid Disney lawyers would confiscate the original workprint of the film), the film isn't notable at all.
Disney, however, reacted opposite of WBD: they simply ignored it, issued a 'no comment' about the film, and surmised (correctly) that after the film screened it would lose attention 100% after it premiered because it wasn't good.

I haven't seen THE PEOPLE'S JOKER and have no idea of its quality.  I'm also not at all surprised WBD would do everything to 'protect' their most precious intellectual property, and this blatantly violates copyright, trademark, etc. with Batman at least mentioned & other DC Batman villain characters are featured in the trailer you can see at the link above.