Warner Bros. Discovery’s “Black Adam,” with Dwayne Johnson, is slated to have a $135 million box office worldwide opening. Does that mean it will be the success David Zaslav dreams of? Plus, what does the exit of DC Film’s head mean for the company? Kim Masters and Matt Belloni look into these questions.
Will “Black Adam” be a success?
Kim: [“Black Adam”] is a very important thing for Warner Bros. Discovery, the DC properties of these great iconic characters: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman – all of these characters are the most famous in the comics world in a way, but they always lag behind Marvel and struggle to match Marvel. Does [it] start to change the perception and make DC the success that David Zaslav dreams it will be?
Matt: The short answer is probably no, on this one, unless it vastly over performed expectations. The poor reviews for this movie and kind of the weird buzz on it is suggesting it will open in the $60 to $70 million range. Not terrible. Not bad at all, but certainly not in the Marvel range that I think David Zaslav would hope that these $200 million DC movies would play in.
I don't think “Black Adam” is going to be the save-all property that they hoped it might be.
Kim: In fairness this is not the real relaunch. It's the old regime's movie.
Who runs DC Films now?
Kim: David Zaslav, the head of the company, has been looking for someone to run [DC Films]. Walter Hamada, who has been running those DC movies, has exited the company [after] having been second guessed publicly by Zaslav.
So now the question is, “Who runs it? And does this movie mark the beginning of a new thing?” Ironically, because Walter Hamada, who oversaw it is out, and Mike De Luca, and Pam Abdy, who are co-running the studio, are in.
Matt: He still is on the lookout, on the hunt for this magical Kevin Feigeist executive that he believes exists that can come in and run the DC properties across all the platforms in a way that Kevin Feige has successfully done at Disney. I say, “Good luck to him!”
I think they will ultimately have to compromise whether it means handing over DC to the Warner Bros. leadership of De Luca and Abdy. Or, just saying, “Okay, we're gonna bring in a producer-type to do this, and we're just going to give the specific properties to specific filmmakers.” They believe someone is out there that can do this.
Is Mike De Luca a comic’s guy?
Kim: I think a prediction [is] Mike De Luca, who has now been presented to us as a comic’s guy, who loves and lives and breathes this stuff through.
Matt: He created “Blade” 20 years ago.
Kim: He wanted to do “Iron Man” back in the day when he ran New Line [Cinema] long ago, and the head of New Line at the time, Bob Shaye, felt “Iron Man” would be too heavy to fly, and it was a silly idea.
[De Luca] actually is a comic’s guy, but the original plan was not to have [him] overseeing this. I think they're going to end up having to bring in someone and declare victory, but that Mike De Luca will have a big hand, and intends to have.
De Luca is positioning himself
Kim: He has a relationship with Matt Reeves, with, of course, Dwayne Johnson, hoping that he's part of something, and with Todd Phillips, who's doing the “Joker” sequel. J.J. Abrams is rattling around in there somewhere, but hasn't really produced anything of note at this point, so he's also a feature in this world, and James Gunn.
He is going to wrap himself up in this stuff if he can, but it's not the unified vision that Kevin Feige brings to Marvel. [However] it seems like it's a bunch of high talent filmmakers looking for their place in this future DC.
Matt: That may be the answer ultimately, that has worked for them in the past. They got Chris Nolan's “Batman” movies out of that strategy.
Kim: And they would be very happy to have something like that again.