Could J.J. Abrams Be Getting Ready to Take Over the DCEU?
We recently got wind that J.J. Abrams, the director behind movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and 2009’s Star Trek, and all around mega-producer, is nearing a deal with WarnerMedia. His company, Bad Robot, would set up shop at the media conglomerate, which was formed following the merger between AT&T and Warner Bros. last year. It’s a deal that is expected to be worth $500 million, which will make Abrams one of the most valuable creatives in all of Hollywood. But what could possibly make him worth so much? Well, it just so happens that Warner Bros. has a franchise, namely the DC universe, that could use an architect. Specifically, a guy that’s proved he knows how to reinvigorate a brand.
Before diving in, it should be said that this is pure speculation. But there is some reason to believe things could be heading in this direction. Let’s first take a look at the state of what is commonly referred to as the DCEU (DC Extended Universe). Zack Snyder kicked off the universe in 2013 with Man of Steel. Then, he decided to bring Ben Affleck into the fold as our new Batman for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. That proved to be an unbelievably divisive movie. Unfortunately for Warner Bros., they were already deep into pre-production on Justice League and filming was scheduled to begin just weeks after BvS hit theaters. The studio, initially, had tremendous confidence in Snyder’s vision. He was their architect.
Yet, they got very cold feet and things got contentious in regards to how to handle Justice League. Zack Snyder eventually left the project (though he remained the credited director) and Joss Whedon was brought in to oversee rewrites, extensive (and expensive) reshoots, as well as usher the movie through the post-production process. The end result, generally speaking, didn’t wow fans or critics, underperformed at the box office and forced Warner Bros. to rethink their strategy with DC Films in a big way. They’ve since managed to put together a couple of solid hits in Aquaman and Shazam, but it still doesn’t seem like there is any unity within the brand. Various projects, such as the Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman 1984 seem to be moving along just fine. But if they truly want to take things to the next level, having someone overseeing the brand, like Marvel Studios has with Kevin Feige, could be the logical thing to do.
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And that’s where J.J. Abrams and this $500 million deal with WarnerMedia comes in. The scope of the deal is said to be comprehensive. Bad Robot will produce movies, TV shows, both for streaming and traditional networks, and even theme park attractions. Some have questioned if Abrams is worth that kind of money, given that his original creations such as the Cloverfield franchise and Super 8, though successful, aren’t mega, big-dollar titles. His most successful efforts have come when he’s working with pre-existing IP. WarnerMedia could absolutely see the value in Abrams in that very department.
Undoubtedly, once the prolific filmmaker sets up shop, the playbook will be open to him. Doesn’t it seem likely, if not almost a certainty, that will include the characters housed under the DC Films banner? J.J. Abrams made Star Wars a global sensation again. He made Star Trek work for modern audiences. He saved Mission: Impossible and helped turn it into the action franchise it is today. From a business perspective, wouldn’t a major studio who owns DC look at a guy like that and think, can’t he do the same for us?
It’s also well worth mentioning that J.J. Abrams actually penned a screenplay titled Superman: Flyby in the early 2000s that went unproduced. So he’s clearly got some interest in that universe. Abrams has also proved that he knows how to be a helpful producer, but one that allows creatives to do their thing. Matt Reeves with Cloverfield. Dan Trachtenberg on 10 Cloverfield Lane. Christopher McQuarrie on the last two Mission: Impossible movies. It’s what he does best, arguably. So why not let him oversee DC Films and allow filmmakers do their thing for the individual movies, but offer guidance and be the creative force that helps provide some connective tissue?
This may not come to pass. And, to be fair, there are quite a few people who don’t care for J.J. Abrams’ style of storytelling. So, if this does happen, certain fanboys and fangirls may not like it. However, given the state of DC Films and the potential value that brand contains, it wouldn’t be surprising for WarnerMedia to have a guy with a proven track record, like Abrams, oversee the operation. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out, that much is certain. The news of Abrams’ deal with WarnerMedia was previously reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
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