Warner Bros. Discovery Makes It All Wrong With HBO Max and DC | Opinion

The fallout from the Warner Bros. Discovery merger began to spread across the entertainment industry. The live-action Batgirl movie has been canceled, and there are rumors that other DC projects will follow. And now the new company is revealing plans to combine HBO Max and Discovery+ into a single streaming service. A lot is changing in Hollywood, and few seem to be for the better.

Let’s take a closer look at what these changes mean for the DC line and HBO Max as a whole, and why Warner Bros. Discovery is making one mistake after another with its major perks.

DC is changing direction…again

No matter which camp you fall into in the eternal struggle between Marvel and DC, there’s no denying that Warner Bros. It has struggled to achieve the same level of success with DCEU that Disney has with the MCU. Warner often seemed unsure of the best way to start building a common universe, first emulating the MCU model with early films like Batman v Superman and Justice League and then pivoting to emphasize a multiverse of movies and shows that aren’t all necessarily related.

The DC line is beginning to carve out its own niche with more director-driven independent fare such as Todd Phillips’ Joker, Matt Reeves’ The Batman, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker spinoff, the two formers not connected at all to the biggest DCEU. But all of that appears to be changing in the wake of the Warner Bros. merger. Discovery. As early as May 2021, Variety reported that CEO David Zaslav is seeking a return to a more standardized MCU-style approach to DC movies, so much so that Zaslav is said to be Looking for a Kevin Feige character to oversee the DC brand.

Every DC movie and series is influenced by the Warner Bros. Discovery merger process.

This mentality seems to be the reason behind the cancellation of the Batgirl movie. Batgirl was originally conceived as a relatively low-budget DC movie that would go straight to HBO Max. It’s a smaller movie that goes against Zaslav’s vision of what a DC movie line should offer.

An industry insider said: wrap“It wasn’t considered a big enough movie to justify its release in theaters…and it was increasingly risky just to get its budget back.”

For this reason, Warner Bros. decided to risk-averse Discovery that it’s safer to lower taxes on the film than to spend more money on a theatrical release and marketing campaign. This appears to be the same thinking that shattered The Wonder Twins shortly before production began, as well as possibly the planned Supergirl movie starring Sasha Calle.

DC fans now fear that any number of previously announced movies and shows are about to be cut short next. If WBD cancels the movie Batgirl that’s about to wrap up, will Blue Beetle (which is currently in the midst of filming) be next? Will the events of Batman movies like Penguin and Arkham still go on? Are any DC series on HBO Max – Doom Patrol, Titans, Young Justice, Harley Quinn – safe now? Heck, can we even be sure The Batman 2 will keep moving forward?

It’s been nearly 10 years since 2013’s Man of Steel released the DCEU, and there’s more uncertainty surrounding the DC line than ever before. At this point, the problem is not so much with any particular strategy for building the cinematic universe in DC as with the fact that there never seems to be fixed strategy. Several tremors within the capital and WarnerMedia’s larger structure have prevented any kind of coherent long-term approach to DCEU. And while it’s still very early in the era of Warner Brothers’ new discovery, there’s no indication yet that the new status quo will be any less chaotic.

Ten-year plan for the city

There are some silver linings to be found amid the stormy situation in the capital. For one thing, the long-rumored Joker sequel has a release date of 2024, which indicates that WBD isn’t entirely averse to the idea of ​​independent films being set outside the confines of DCEU. On the other hand, the company has hinted at a decade-long roadmap to restructure the DC line.

Zasloff said during Warner Bros.’s second-quarter earnings call. Discovery: “We’ve done a reset.” “We have restructured the business where we will focus [on]There will be a team with a 10-year plan focused solely on the capital. It is very similar to the structure that Alan Horn and Bob Iger put together so effectively with Kevin Feige at Disney. We believe we can build a much stronger, long-term sustainable growth business out of the capital. And as part of that, we’ll focus on quality.”

Zaslov’s comments confirm previous reports that the company is looking directly to Marvel for inspiration in how to remake the superhero universe. The hope is that while DC’s movie strategy is finally over again, at least a consistent plan is finally put in place.

However, following the Marvel model is no guarantee of success. Every studio and streaming player wants their own MCU, but in reality crafting a cinematic universe and maintaining a dedicated audience is much easier said than done. Just look at Universal’s failed attempt in the Dark Universe line of monster films, or Paramount’s ongoing struggles to expand the Transformers franchise. After so many years of fighting to gain ground against Marvel, can DC really turn the tide simply by repeating Marvel’s strategy? It’s possible, especially if the studio lives up to its pledge to focus on quality above meeting release dates. But it can also prove to be a very costly exercise in tinkering.

After so many years of fighting to gain ground against Marvel, can DC really turn the tide simply by repeating Marvel’s strategy?

Christopher Nolan and the importance of relationships with the Creator

2021 was nothing if not a pilot year for WarnerMedia, as the company’s entire 2021 film lineup was released on HBO Max and in theaters on the same day. It was undoubtedly a move that boosted subscriber numbers for the nascent HBO Max. However, it was also a steep cost, both in literal terms and in terms of WarnerMedia’s relationships with theater chains and filmmakers.

“It is clear that Warner Media intends to sacrifice a significant portion of the profitability of its film studio division, its production partners and filmmakers, to support the HBO Max startup,” said Adam Aaron, CEO of AMC Theaters. “For AMC, we will do everything we can to ensure that Warner does not do this at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that sustain our business.”

This release strategy also caused a very public rift between WarnerMedia and director Christopher Nolan, who wrote, “Some of the biggest filmmakers in our industry and the hottest movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the biggest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working the worst of service. broadcast “.

While rating HBO Max as the “worst streaming service” is pretty harsh, the fact that those words came from someone in Nolan’s stature is clear. Since then, Nolan has severed ties with Warner Bros., and his upcoming Oppenheimer autobiography will be distributed by Universal Pictures. Given that Nolan has been responsible for some of Warners’ most critically and commercially successful films over the past two decades, his passing is no small loss for the studio.

Zaslav showed signs He intends to modify the designs It was held back by WarnerMedia’s previous strategy HBO Max. During a conference call in May 2021, he noted that building relationships with filmmakers and creators is his “first priority” moving forward.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to see how any designs will be reassured by Batgirl’s sudden cancellation. Directors Adel Elaraby and Bilal Falah seem as shocked as anyone else To learn their film will not see the light of day. We can only assume that other directors and actors are now anxiously wondering if their next projects might be in the chopping stage.

The move sends a clear message that the bottom line is all that matters to the heads of Warner Bros. Discovery. Entire films can and will be sacrificed if there is more money to be made in tax cuts than in box office revenue. This can only have a negative impact on Warner Bros. Discovery’s film and TV lineup. How many directors and producers will consider canceling Batgirl and guess if their passion project is safe at Warner Bros.? How many Christopher Nolans will the studio lose in the coming years?

HBO vs. Discovery: A Clash of Philosophies

Few in the industry expected the streaming service from WarnerMedia to emphasize the HBO brand, but it’s clear why. The HBO name has created a lot of cache over the years. Shows such as Oz, The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, and Game of Thrones have earned Network Outstanding Awards and a reputation for quality. HBO helped pave the way for the era of Peak TV, in which networks and banners spent more money than ever on prestigious programming. By calling the service HBO Max, it was clear that WarnerMedia was hoping to build on that reputation and rely on big-budget projects like House of the Dragon and The Last of Us to win the streaming wars.

This is none other than the strategy Zaslav has used in Discovery over the years. These networks emphasize unrecorded content such as nature documentaries, home improvement shows, and various types of reality TV. With that in mind, the idea of ​​merging WarnerMedia and Discovery into one company has always seemed a bit strange. How can two companies with such opposite approaches to content merge into a coherent whole? Can Zaslav embrace the need for an expensive luxury TV alongside the familiar Discovery fare?

In this new climate, even major pillars of support like the House of the Dragon face an uncertain future. Like the original Game of Thrones, this prequel series is shaping up to be one of the most expensive television productions in Hollywood history. How much support is the new system for this huge project? With the lines between cable and live streaming more and more blurring, what metrics does WBD use to determine if these shows justify their massive budgets? Should we expect a new wave of cancellations to hit HBO support columns like Euphoria and Our Flag Mean Death?

Already worrying signs have emerged with the start of Warner Bros. Discovery is building toward unifying HBO Max and Discovery+ into one service. The company seems ready Animated content resources for HBO Max, Which suggests that previously major franchises like Adventure Time are no longer a priority (while casting more doubt on the future of DC shows like Young Justice and Harley Quinn). and as movie discussion He points out that this deaf slice of the company’s earnings call doesn’t paint a particularly good picture for officials:

We’re not quite sure what “genredom” is, but it’s hard to get a lot of optimism about the future of DC and HBO Max when “women don’t like scripted TV shows” seems to be a guiding principle. The HBO name carries a lot of weight, but that could change very quickly if Warner Bros. loses. Discovery sees what made the network and its streaming brother special in the first place.

Jesse is a moderate literature writer at IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual performance Follow @jschedeen on Twitter.