DC has found its new leader(s) in filmmaker James Gunn and producer Peter Safran. Going forward, the duo will oversee all upcoming DC movies, TV series and animation projects as co-chairs and co-CEOs of “DC Studios.” The brand is a newly created department at Warner Bros. Discovery, which will replace the DC Films banner. The decision comes in the wake of former boss Walter Hamada quietly leaving the studio after overseeing Black Adam’s theatrical release last week.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the duo will report directly to Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and work closely with film division heads Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy. The Suicide Squad director will focus on the creative side of DC, while Safran will handle things on the business and production side.
“Both are expected to continue directing and producing projects, respectively,” THR says, adding that the deal runs for four years, making Gunn exclusive to DC. The director has previously worked with Marvel Studios on the Guardians of the Galaxy films. “The goal is for them to not just be producers, but really act as executives, although Gunn will occasionally tweak a film,” THR explains.
Back in August, Lego franchise producer Dan Lin was reportedly in contention to take over DC Films under Zaslav’s newly laid out 10-year plan for the franchise. The initiative focused on resetting the brand under a new team, focused on quality over quantity, in hopes of creating a product along the lines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This shake-up also led to $90 million in live-action Batgirl film being cancelled, stating that it did not fit their vision of maximizing financial returns. Conversations with Lin eventually dried up until this new update, which puts Gunn and Safran in charge.
According to THR , both individuals were “spotted” on the Warner Bros. lot meeting with Warner film chairman De Luca about future projects — even as Lin was being considered for the position. An extensive report from last week revealed that Gunn was pitching two new DC Comics projects, with Safran (Shazam!) seeks to produce. Meanwhile, De Luca, along with Abdy, was revealed to be responsible for Henry Cavill’s post-credits scene in Black Adam. While lead actor Dwayne Johnson originally came up with the plan to introduce Superman in his film, ex-boss Hamada rejected the idea. THR claims the disapproval prompted Johnson to meet with film executives De Luca and Abdy, who approved his request.
It’s worth mentioning that while DC plans to lead the MCU route by creating a larger universe and mixing characters, there are some movies set in their own realms. Todd Phillips’ upcoming Joker: Folie à Deux, for example, will be overlooked by De Luca and Abdy, whereas Matt Reeves’ The Batman – previously under Hamada – has no clear indication of the reporting authority. Earlier reports indicated that the Cloverfield director was looking to expand the universe by exploring the Dark Knight’s obscure rogues gallery, in addition to the Colin Farell-led Penguin spin-off series, which goes into production next year.
“We are honored to be the stewards of these DC characters we have loved since we were children,” Gunn and Safran said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to collaborating with the most talented writers, directors and actors in the world to create an integrated, multi-layered universe that still allows for individual expression for the artists involved. Our commitment to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Harley Quinn and the rest of the DC stable of characters is only outweighed by our commitment to the wonder of human possibility that these characters represent.
“We are excited to breathe new life into the theatrical experience around the world as we tell some of the biggest, most beautiful and magnificent stories ever told,” the statement concludes.