Reinstate Geoff Johns as Head of DC Films, Hold WB Executives Accountable
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Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner CEO
Randall Stephenson, AT&T CEO
Justice League has been a box office failure for your studio, Warner Brothers Pictures. It looks like when all receipts are added up JUSTICE LEAGUE, a film uniting the major DC superheroes will make less than Man of Steel. A report in yesterday’s Variety has noted that the solution your executive team at Warner Brothers Pictures believes is the best route is to reassign DC Films co-head Jon Berg, Sideline DC Films co-head Geoff Johns into an “advisory role” and to give the executives more direct control over the films. This is exactly the wrong strategy. Let’s look at where JUSTICE LEAGUE failed.
1. The Continued reliance on Zack Snyder. I like Snyder and I like the films he has made thus far, but they clearly did not resonate with mainstream audiences. As Henry Cavill explained there were "niche" films with a particular audience. With Christopher Nolan and David Goyer behind Superman, I am sure you expected MAN OF STEEL to reach close to or over a billion dollars at the box office. It ended it’s run with $668 million world wide. With BATMAN joining forces with Superman on screen for the first time in BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, I am sure you expected that film to bring in the $1 Billion+ world wide that THE DARK KNIGHT and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES did. That film only brought in $872.8 million. Im sure this was a massive disappoint to you and it was probably confusing when Zack Snyder was brought back a third time. So who was responsible for bring him back? According to Umberto Gonzalez and Tim Molloy at The Wrap, it was Greg Silverman. Once Batman v Superman disappointed with audiences, the decision to keep Snyder on JUSTICE LEAGUE was Kevin Tsujihara.
2. The mandate for a 2 hour run time. One of the chief complaints about JUSTICE LEAGE is it’s undercooked plot and weak villain. Warner Brothers executives demanded a two hour run time according to Ben Fritz at the Wall Street Journal. It is extremely hard to introduce 3 new heroes, bring the team together, introduce a villain and have them fight the villain in a cohesive story in 2 hours. WONDER WOMAN, which was your most critically acclaimed and domestically highest grossing DC film is 2 hours and 21 minutes. That extra 20 minutes would have made a world of difference in story telling. The executive responsible for this 2 hour mandate was Kevin Tsujihara.
3. The Refusal to Move the Release Date Back The other complaint about the film is the poor CGI effects. This is due to the executives insisting on meeting a November 17th release date. Why? according to Gonzalez and Malloy, CEO Kevin Tsujihara and President Tony Emmerich “wanted to preserve their bonuses they would be paid before the merger,” and were worried that “if they pushed the movie, then their bonuses would have been pushed to the following year and they might not still be at the studio.” More time for the film makers could have meant time to wait for Henry Cavill to finish Mission Impossible 6 so he didn’t have that mustache they had to edit out. It could have meant more time to work on the CGI that was criticized. It would have also given the film some breathing room so as not to compete with Thor: Ragnarok.
Obviously, you know information internally that we do not know externally. But the solution these executives have come up with to bring the DC Films more firmly under their control when they were the ones who screwed up this process in the first place seems counter intuitive and not good for your bottom line. The reason Disney and Marvel are having the success they are is because they have people who care about the these characters in charge of making these films. This is all we want: films that portray these characters faithfully with an eye for quality and excellence. There is no one who cares more about these characters than Geoff Johns. Johns worked closely with director Patty Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg on making WONDER WOMAN an enormous success for the studio. He has worked with James Wan on AQUAMAN and David Sanberg on SHAZAM. I am sure they can all attest to how great Geoff is about these characters. Based on information we know it seems like there are other people that need to be held accountable for their actions for the performance of JUSTICE LEAGUE.
We’d like to appeal to you to investigate this situation for yourselves, reinstate Geoff Johns as head of DC Films and hold the people responsible who really need to be held accountable for their actions.
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