EDITORIAL: Here's What Those Two Untitled DC Films Really Mean For The Future Of The DCEU

EDITORIAL: Here's What Those Two Untitled DC Films Really Mean For The Future Of The DCEU

EDITORIAL: Here's What Those Two Untitled DC Films Really Mean For The Future Of The DCEU

Earlier today WB added two untitled DC movies to their slate - despite rumors about the studio's lack of confidence in the franchise. Is this a sign that the DCEU is still on track? Read on to find out!

Earlier today, folks at The Hollywood Reporter posted a report claiming that due to the so-called ‘failure’ of Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice at the box office, Warner Bros execs would be reevaluating their release schedule going forward - with the intent on making “fewer films”. In reality, it’s likely this change in strategy had less to do with BvS and more to do with the studio’s lackluster 2015, where they failed to produce a single blockbuster that grossed more than $500M worldwide.
Batman v Superman, by comparison, charts as a moderate success story for the company (positive reviews or not). It’s about to cross the $700M threshold, and has already outgrossed its predecessor within 2½ weeks of release. As THR later revealed, Warner Bros intends to cash-in on BvS’s widespread brand appeal, focusing on “silos” such as the DCEU movies and the Harry Potter series, in an attempt to echo the success Disney have had with Marvel, Pixar & Lucasfilm properties.
Lo and behold, not one hour later and news broke that Warner Bros were reshuffling their 2017-2019 release schedule. In addition to holding back Andy Serkis’ ill-timed Jungle Book: Origins and bringing Wonder Woman forward out of Transformers 5’s way, they also announced two more untitled DC movies – for Oct 5, 2018 & Nov 1, 2019 respectively. It seems like THR were onto something…

Ben Affleck’s highly anticipated solo Batman film is almost definitely one of those projects. The actor-director has been hard at work on his fourth feature, the prohibition-era-set Live By Night (due for release in late 2017), but word is he’s also been developing a first draft for a movie starring the Caped Crusader alongside Geoff Johns. With Affleck already deep in post-production for Live By Night, he’ll have plenty of time to prep & shoot a Bat-film before that late-2018 release date.
The identity of the other project is harder to call. If I had to bet, I’d put my money on a Suicide Squad sequel. The villain-centric piece has received nothing but great buzz so far, especially after that explosive second trailer. David Ayer’s film has the momentum and the star power to succeed at the box office this summer. Should it all go to plan, you can bet Ayer, alongside Will Smith, Jared Leto and Margot Robbie, will be back for round 2 in 2019.
But there are other alternatives. One outside bet could be a Wonder Woman sequel – for the same reasons as Suicide Squad 2. If audiences take to Gal in her own movie as much as they did to her in Batman v Superman, it's easy to imagine them clamoring for more (particularly with its female demographic appeal). Previously confirmed DC projects without release dates such as Shazam and Dark Universe are also possible contenders.

Arguably, the most likely candidate is that long-awaited Man Of Steel sequel. No matter how much you loved Batman v Superman, to call it a true Superman sequel would be a bit of a stretch (sorry Zack). As audiences long for more Batman & Wonder Woman on the big screen, and DC continue to develop their lesser known properties, Superman has almost begun to feel like the forgotten child – left to set up this cinematic universe, and then simply cast aside for more colorful characters. It’s oddly (and amusingly) fitting when you think about Clark Kent’s mild-mannered & selfless disposition.
As a huge Superman fan, I for one would love to see another Man Of Steel movie - perhaps in the hands of a different director this time around (for the sake of variety more than anything else). Whether or not audiences agree with me is something only time - and box office receipts - can tell. I do firmly believe that the WB execs haven’t made up their minds yet. With over three and a half years to go until that second release date, they’ve got plenty of time to decide.
Fans have been quick to jump on these release dates as a sign of Warner Bros’ continued faith in the DC Extended Universe - especially after the internet’s very loud, very mixed and seemingly never-ending response to Dawn Of Justice. Sure, this move was probably meant as a statement of intent (just like keeping Zack Snyder on to direct Justice League was), but it may have also come at a cost.
Most fanboys interpreted THR’s original headline to mean that Warner Bros would be green-lighting fewer DC films. In actual fact, the piece suggested that they would be cutting back on original content. With flops like Jupiter Ascending & Pan still fresh in the memory, it’s easy to see why they’re more willing to stick with proven cash-cows like LEGO, Harry Potter & DC.

Sadly, that opens a can of worms that could have a heavy toll on the film industry as we know it. As WB strides to become more brand-driven like Disney, smaller-budget movies will naturally get left behind. WB actually has a solid record with low/mid-budget cinema (especially compared to their big studio rivals). Over the past few months they’ve been responsible for critical hits such as Creed ($35M budget), The Intern (also $35M) and last month’s Midnight Special ($18M).

As CBM fans, you may not lament the loss of these movies if it means you get a new Batman movie, but their absence reduces variety. That's bad for business, and bad for moviegoers & filmmakers alike. How do you think directors like Ryan Coogler and David Ayer got their big breaks? The industry is in danger of becoming overrun by blockbuster-obsessed greed and monotony. Too preachy?
It's worth noting we don't 
actually know how this scenario will play out in reality. A lot of rumors have been spun out of Batman v Superman’s release over the past few weeks, and while THR is one of the more reputable outlets out there, only half of these stories seem to end up carrying any weight these days. What is clear is that Warner Bros are still very focused on their flagship superhero franchise. Whether or not that comes at a cost to smaller movies remains to be seen.

For the moment though, the future of the DCEU looks pretty safe to me.

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