future of warner bros

In the mid-to-late 2000s, Warner Bros. couldn’t be stopped. They were releasing hit after hit – big moneymakers like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, the Harry Potter movies, and The Hangover, branding themselves as a filmmaker-friendly studio that would foster creativity and support directors in their visions. Compare that with, say, the colossal behind-the-scenes mess associated with Suicide Squad, and it’s clear that something changed.

But the studio hopes to return to those golden days, and they’re going to do it by focusing on making good movies instead of getting caught up in how much one of their DC superhero films connects with another. Read a new quote from WB head Kevin Tsujihara below, which also includes his desire to make more Mad Max and The Matrix films.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is cement the foundation and the relationships with the people who are going to be the next generation of Clint Eastwoods,” Tsujihara explained to the Los Angeles Times, referencing the fact that Eastwood has been with WB for more than 50 years. And it sounds like part of that approach is allowing filmmakers to tell the stories they want to tell without an abundance of requirements – even if it’s a tentpole comic book movie.

shazam suit

WB’s Approach to DC Superhero Films

According to Tsujihara:

“The upcoming slate, with Shazam, Joker, Wonder Woman 1984 and Birds of Prey, feels like we’re on the right track. We have the right people in the right jobs working on it. The [DC cinematic] universe isn’t as connected as we thought it was going to be five years ago. You’re seeing much more focus on individual experiences around individual characters. That’s not to say we won’t at some point come back to that notion of a more connected universe. But it feels like that’s the right strategy for us right now.”

Shazam director David F. Sandberg and producer Peter Safran echoed that sentiment when we spoke with them a few weeks ago. “The mandate for us for the film was always just, ‘Make the best movie possible.’ There was never any attempt whatsoever to shoehorn it into any existing storylines or universe,” Safran said.

After the relative disappointments of films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, WB decided to change its outlook for its DC movies, and it seems to be working well for them so far. Tsujihara continued:

“What Patty Jenkins did on Wonder Woman illustrated to us what you could do with these characters who are not Batman and Superman. Obviously, we want to get those two in the right place, and we want strong movies around Batman and Superman. But Aquaman is a perfect example of what we can do. They’re each unique and the tone’s different in each movie.”

WB Wants to Boost Its Non-Superhero Franchises, Too

The L.A. Times also asked Tsujihara about WB properties he’d like to reboot, and he answered with two big ones:

“We have incredible franchises on the features side such as The Matrix. We’d love to work with George Miller on furthering the Mad Max franchise.”

There’s been talk of another Matrix movie for a while now, but the fact that it was the first thing out of the WB president’s mouth here implies that he’s been putting a lot of thought into it lately. Could a new Matrix film be getting close to a green light?

And when it comes to Mad Max, Tom Hardy seems to be willing to head back into the desert after a hellish shoot on Fury Road, but is director George Miller ready to hit the gas pedal on his action franchise again? A bitter lawsuit between Miller and WB muddied the waters about a return to this cinematic world, but if both sides can come to an agreement, maybe audiences will have another lovely day soon. (Meanwhile, Miller is attached to direct a love story about a genie called Three Thousand Years of Longing.)

Tsujihara also shouted-out the Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera brands, saying they needed to “build those franchises up,” and talked about his excitement for the LeBron James-starring Space Jam 2. Is WB on its way to a new golden era? It’s going to take a Herculean effort to be able to compete with Disney and Marvel at the box office, and even with Aquaman crossing the billion dollar mark worldwide, we’re hoping WB listens to its own film chairman, Toby Emmerich, who said last year that the studio’s best plan moving forward was simply to make good movies.

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