It's not exactly a superhero coming to the rescue, but for Warner Bros., it could be just as important. In a big shake-up in the DC Extended Universe, the studio has given executive Walter Hamada the top job previously held by Justice League producer Jon Berg, who left his post last month following the blockbuster's underwhelming box-office performance and tepid fan reaction to the should-be blockbuster.
Warner reps confirm to SYFY WIRE that Hamada will be promoted to president of production in charge of DC Comics' movie unit. He'll work closely with Berg's co-head of production, Geoff Johns, who's moving to a more advisory role. The move means Hamada, a longtime VP at New Line Cinema, will basically have sole responsibility over the DCEU's assortment of superheroes and supervillains as Warners seeks to match the success and big-screen magic of Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The latter, of course, was forged by the popularity of its Avengers movies, two more of which are due out in the next two years (Avengers: Infinity Wars and an untitled fourth Avengers flick). And the MCU scored yet another massive hit with this fall's Thor: Ragnarok.
Hamada has a solid track record, having ushered the horror hit IT to phenom status and overseen New Line's rapid expansion of The Conjuring series into a full-fledged cinematic universe (see the Annabelle spinoffs and the forthcoming The Nun), which the likes of Universal has so far been unable to do with its vault of classic horror monsters (Exhibit A: the box-office bomb that was Tom Cruise's The Mummy).
Maybe he should activate some Wonder Twins powers, eh?
Hamada will be tasked with doing what Berg and Johns couldn't: revamp what is increasingly perceived as a doom-and-gloom gathering of superfriends replete with lifeless CGI battles into the kind of must-see popcorn fare demonstrated by DC's biggest success: Wonder Woman, which not only premiered last summer to rave reviews but earned $412 million in the U.S. on its way to lassoing $821 million worldwide.
By comparison, while November's Justice League did manage some decent buzz from critics who thought it was more fun than the dour Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the hybrid visions of its two helmers, Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon (who took over after Snyder left to deal with a family tragedy), resulted in the worst opening weekend of any DCEU film to date.
Justice League grossed just $96 million on its way to a less-than-stellar $226 million domestic haul and $651 million internationally – a major disappointment for Warner Bros. given that the film cost well over $300 million, and reportedly an even bigger hit to the company's bottom line as it's projected to lose $50-$100 million.
And we're not even talking about the additional $150 million the studio spent marketing its all-star cast, including Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill reprising the resurrected Superman, Gal Gadot returning as the Amazon warrior princess, and Jason Momoa once again as Aquaman, joined by Ezra Miller as the Flash and Ray Fisher as Cyborg.
And then there's the critical thrashing such DECU entries as Superman v Batman and Suicide Squad have taken in previous years, either for being too self-serious or lacking any tonal consistency whatsoever, as in the case of the latter.
No doubt, Hamada has his work cut out for him.