Movie superheroes are far more complicated to manage

Los Angeles – Walter Hamada is not a typical superhero wrangler.

He does not have a fast, prominent personality. His modest home office, as it appears on the Zoom, is at least lighter on cape-and-cowl collectibles. Hollywood was not even his first calling: he decided to become a mechanical engineer.

However, the chairman of DC Films, Mr. Hamada, 52, manages a movie career Amazing woman, Batman, Cyborg, The Flash, Superman and every other DC Comics superhero. And the new curriculum they have prepared for them is dizzying.

Mr. Hamada said that the most expensive DC films (for four years starting in 2022) have been made for theatrical release. Additional superhero movies (with two annual goals, perhaps focused on risky characters like Batgirl and Static Shock) will come exclusively. Hbo max, A streaming streaming service owned by WarnerMedia.

In addition, DC Films, which is part of Warner Bros., will work with the filmmakers to develop a movie offshoot – the TV series that will run on HBO Max and interconnect with its big-screen efforts.

“With every film we’re watching right now, we’re thinking, ‘What is a potential Max spinoff?” “Mr. Hamada said.

If you think the first superhero had a spark, just wait.

To work out all the story lines, DC Films will introduce the film audience to the comics concept known as the multi-tiered: parallel world of an audience, where different versions of the same character exist simultaneously. For example, Warner Bros. would have two different films involving Batman – played by two different actors – running at the same time.

Complex planning involves a sharp increase in production. Last year, Warner Bros. made two live-action superhero films, “Joker“And”Shazam!“In 2018, only”Aquaman. “All three were hit hits, underscoring the financial opportunity to make more.

For various reasons including Creative misfire And the management business at DC Films (Mr. Hamada took place in 2018), Warner Bros. has badly outpaced Disney-owned Marvel at the box office. Over the past decade, Warner Bros. has grossed $ 8 billion in sales of superhero tickets worldwide, including $ 36 million from “Wonder Woman 1984” over the weekend; Marvel has taken in $ 20.6 billion.

Suffice it to say, Warner Bros., which invented the big-budget superhero film in 1978.Superman, ”Is under pressure to achieve their work together.

Disney is successful in part because its divisions cooperate in a way that silences Warner Bros. But that is changing. AT&T mandates greater cross-company synergy Took over WarnerMedia In 2018.

“In the past, we were so secretive,” Mr. Hamada said. “It was shocking to me, for example, that some people in the company were actually allowed to read scripts for the films we are making.”

More than ever, studios are leaning on pre-established characters and brands – especially if their corporate parents are building streaming services. HBO Max has 12.6 million customer activations. Netflix has 195 million. How do you please Wall Street and quickly close the gap? You start by putting your superheroes to work.

This month, Disney announced 100 new movies and shows For the next few years, most of them headed straight to their Disney + streaming service, which has 87 million subscribers. Marvel is participating in 11 films and 11 television shows, including “Wandavision, “Which arrives on January 15 and re-discovers Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch “Avengers“Franchise.

Warner Bros. has at least as many comics-based films as several stages, including the sequel to “Suicide Squad”; “Batman, “In which Robert Pattinson (” Twilight “) plays the capped Crusader; and”Black man, “Starring Dwayne Johnson as the villainous title character.

Television spinoffs from “The Batman” and “The Suicide Squad” are led by HBO Max. The traditional television division of WarnerMedia has about 25 additional live-action and animated superhero shows, including “Superman and Lois”, which hit the CW network in February.

Sony Pictures Entertainment has its own superhero slate, with at least two more Spider-Man films; “Morbius,” starring Jared Leto as a pseudo-vampire; And the sequel to “Venom”, which cost $ 100 million to make in 2018 and collected $ 856 million worldwide. Sony also has a suite of superhero TV shows Led for Amazon Prime Video.

And don’t forget Valentines Entertainment, which is changing the properties of comics like “Ambassador, “About superpowered teenagers in films with partners such as Paramount Pictures.

Superheroes have long been Hollywood’s most trusted moneymakers, especially when sales of related merchandise are involved. (Amazing woman Tiara for cats, On sale for $ 59.50.) But how much can spandex and computer-generated visual effects entice viewers?

You think David A. Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a film consultancy, said. “If the stories are well written and the production values ​​are strong,” he said, “then there will be no sign of fatigue.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing Warner Bros. is HBO Max’s recent preference. “The risk is, watching these movies on television first will reduce the entertainment experience, and later the price,” Mr. Gross said. “For an individual film, there is no more profitable business model than a successful theatrical release – making the biggest pop culture event possible. This is the locomotive that pulls the entire train: freight, theme park licensing, other income. “

On Friday, Warner Bros. released “Wonder Woman 1984” in North America, where it collected $ 16.7 million. Studios, citing the coronovirus epidemic (only 39 percent of theaters are open in the United States) Distributed together Film in theaters and on HBO Max. Warner Bros. will release their 2021 slate in the same Hybrid fashion.

WarnerMedia provided only vague information about the sequel’s performance on HBO Max, saying in a news release that “millions” of customers watched it on Friday. “The film has exceeded our expectations in all our key viewing and customer metrics,” said Andy Forsell, WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer general manager.

So far, “Wonder Woman 1984” has collected $ 85 million worldwide, with $ 68.3 million coming from overseas, where HBO Max does not yet exist. The film, starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins, cost at least $ 200 million to make and an estimated $ 100 million in the worldwide market. It was received Very weak review Compared to its series predecessor.

Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Toby Imerich said Sunday that he had a “fast-track” third Wonder Woman film. “Our real-life Wonder Woman – Gal and Patty – will return to the conclusion of the long-planned theatrical trilogy,” Mr. Emerich said.

Mr. Hamada came to power through New Line, a Warner Bros. division that produces mostly midbugged horror films and comedies. Among other achievements, he produced “The Conjuring” (2013) with filmmaker James Wan and others in a six-film “world” with $ 1.8 billion in global ticket sales. (“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” arrives in June.)

“Many times in studio meetings, executives repeat buzz words, and it becomes a joke,” Mr. Vann said. “Walt always brings something creative, useful and important to the table. He speaks to me in the language that I understand. “

When Mr. Hamada arrived at DC Films in 2018, the division urgently needed stability.

Two extremely expensive films, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice“(2016) and”Justice League“(2017), both directed by Zack Snyder, were deemed by critics to be almost unwritten. Ben Affleck, who played Batman in the films Wanted to proceed, Complicating sequel plans. At the same time, filmmakers were developing other DC films that had nothing to do with existing story lines – and in fact, some of them were denied.

Mr. Hamada and Mr. Emerich had two options: how to co-star or initiate various story lines and character revisions.

The answer is multiverse. Boiled, this means that some characters (for example, Wonder Woman portrayed by Ms. Gadot) will continue their adventures on Earth 1, while the new avatar (Mr. Pattinson as “Batman”) will populate Earth 2.

The film “The Flash”, set for theatrical release in 2022, will combine two universes and feature two Batmons, with Mr. Affleck returning as one and Michael Keaton as the other. Mr. Keaton played the role of Batman in 1989 and 1992.

To further complicate matters, HBO Max gave more than $ 70 million to Mr. Snyder Expand it with their “Justice League” and new footage. His original vision was attacked by Mr. Snyder and Warner Bros., which the studio deemed critical, resulting in a different director, handled by Joss Whedon. (That didn’t go well.) “Zac Snyder Justice League”, which is now four hours long, will air in segments on HBO Max in March.

At least for now, Mr. Snyder is not part of the new DC Films blueprint, with studio officials describing his HBO Max project as a storytelling day-sack – a road that leads nowhere.

The Multiverse concept has worked on television, but it is a risky strategy for the big screen. These films need to attract a wider audience to justify their costs, and a comic nerd sensibility can turn up too much. New actors can handle a character; James Bond is the best example of this. But many Gotham roaming theaters?

“I don’t think anyone else has ever attempted this,” Mr. Hamada said. “But the audience is sophisticated enough to understand it. If we make good films, they will go with it. “

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