DC has found its new leader(s) in filmmaker James Gunn and producer Peter Safran. Going forward, the duo will overlook all upcoming DC movies, TV series, and animation projects, as co-chairs and co-CEOs of “DC Studios.” The brand is a newly formed division at Warner Bros. Discovery that will replace the DC Films banner. The decision comes in the wake of former head Walter Hamada quietly departing the studio, after overseeing Black Adam’s theatrical release last week.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the duo will directly report to Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, and work closely with the film division bosses Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy. The Suicide Squad director will focus on the creative side of DC, while Safran takes care of things on the business and production side.
“Both are expected to continue to direct and produce projects, respectively,” THR says, adding that the deal runs for four years, making Gunn exclusive to DC. The director previously worked with Marvel Studios on the Guardians of the Galaxy films. “The goal is for them not just to be producers, but to truly function as executives even as Gunn will occasionally hone a movie,” THR explains.
Back in August, Lego franchise producer Dan Lin was reportedly in contention to take over DC Films, under Zaslav’s newly charted 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 in the vein of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This shake-up also led to the $90 million live-action Batgirl movie getting cancelled, stating that it did not fit their vision to maximise financial returns. Talks with Lin eventually went dry, 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 Warners film co-chair 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!) looking to produce. Meanwhile De Luca, alongside Abdy, was revealed to be responsible for Henry Cavill’s post-credits scene appearance in Black Adam. While lead Dwayne Johnson initially came up with the plan to introduce Superman in his film, ex-head Hamada rejected the idea. THR claims that the disapproval drove Johnson to meet up with film heads De Luca and Abdy, who approved his request.
It is worth mentioning that while DC plans to head the MCU route, by creating a larger universe and blending characters together, there are some films set in their own realms. Todd Phillips’ upcoming Joker: Folie à Deux, for instance, will be overlooked by De Luca and Abdy, whereas Matt Reeves’ The Batman — previously under Hamada — has no clear indication of the reporting authority. Past 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’re honoured to be the stewards of these DC characters we’ve 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 the individual expression of the artists involved. Our commitment to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Harley Quinn, and the rest of the DC stable of characters is only equalled by our commitment to the wonder of human possibility these characters represent.
“We’re excited to invigorate the theatrical experience around the world as we tell some of the biggest, most beautiful, and grandest stories ever told,” the statement concludes.