Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes Says DC Films Have Room for Improvement

This has been a rocky year for DC Films, with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice underperforming against expectations (though still earning $873 million worldwide) and tanking with critics, Seth Grahame-Smith having been replaced by Rick Famuyiwa as The Flash director, Ben Affleck taking on an executive producer role on Warner Bros.‘ upcoming Justice League, producer Chuck Roven’s involvement being diminished, and executive VP Jon Berg and DC CCO Geoff Johns taking the reigns of co-running the DC Films banner. Suicide Squad tanked harder with critics than BvS did (though it has made a tidy profit at the box office with $720 million worldwide so far), which led Time Warner chairman-CEO Jeff Bewkes (via Variety) to tell shareholders today that the company is very aware they have a problem on their hands.

“We do think there’s a little room for improvement,” Bewkes said. “We can do a little bit better on the creative. The DC Comics characters have a little more lightness in them than maybe what you saw in those movies, so we’re thinking about that.”

Sounds like the “little” course correction we expected after the grim and in-your-face nihilism of all three films released so far. The general rumor mill has it that Zack Snyder was put on a much tighter leash this time around on Justice League, which was changed from a two-part movie to a single film (with a sequel still scheduled for June 2019). The Comic-Con trailer showcased a much lighter, more Marvel-like tone, as did the colorful Wonder Woman trailer. This didn’t stop word that James Wan’s Aquaman was still facing script troubles, with Wan possibly considering abandoning the project altogether. Nevertheless, Bewkes is standing steadfast that one of the most valuable IPs in Hollywood is — despite naysayers — right where it needs to be.

“The strategy worked,” Bewkes said. “The execution did deliver what we wanted to do. We’re right on course or better. The main thing was to launch DC and reinvigorate it with the fan base. The reboot of Batman with Ben Affleck was a big success.”

Time will tell whether Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman (June 2, 2017) and Zack Snyder’s Justice League (November 17, 2017) will be steps forward or back for the DC Extended Universe, but it seems like audiences are still rooting for the good guys to have a win.