Rumor of the Day: Why Dawn of Justice is making Warner Bros. 'nervous'

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Nov 18, 2016, 1:12 PM EST (Updated)

We're just weeks away from the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the film that's supposed to launch Warner Bros.' shared superhero universe into a Marvel-esque stratosphere. In the years following this flick, we're supposed to get everything from Justice League to Wonder Woman to Aquaman on the big screen, and while Warner Bros. has publicly shown no sign of deviating from those plans, there are whispers that Dawn of Justice could spell a problem for the studio.

Why? Well, apparently, test screenings for the flick aren't going quite as well as the studio hoped, and some insiders are convinced that's going to breed changes in the Warner Bros. superhero slate. Here's Drew McWeeny from HitFix talking about the issue:

"Warner is a little bit worried. This movie is starting to scare them. It's scaring them because they're showing it to people now, people are actually laying eyes on the film now, and the response has not been what I think they wanted. If I were going to lay a bet on how it may happen, Suicide Squad, they1'll go all-in on. They'll push all their chips in on that and I think Suicide Squad's going to be a hit for them. I think Wonder Woman will be finished the way they're working on it right now and they'll release it. I would be surprised if Justice League starts shooting when they say it's going to, and I would be equally surprised if Zack Snyder directed it."

That's a pretty dramatic read of the landscape, particularly since Snyder's been attached to Justice League for years now, but could it be true? McWeeny's read of the situation predicts that a Ben Affleck-led Batman solo flick would take the place of Justice League in the release schedule, as the studio and audiences have been very receptive to his performance. Affleck's Batman, and WB's reliance in general on Batman as a superhero blockbuster engine, could be the mechanism with which Warner Bros. ultimately builds its superhero universe. That said, that's not the only take on the situation.

Mario-Francisco Robles of Latino Review has also been digging into how Warner Bros. is reacting to Dawn of Justice, and according to his sources, what's making Warners "nervous" right now is whether the film will make the kind of money they need it to in order to call it a success. Based on his report, the Dawn of Justice budget (including marketing) has been pushed to more than $400 million, which means the flick needs to pull in more than $1 billion worldwide to justify its cost. Now, you'd think a movie starring Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman could do that, and of course it still might, but according to a Latino Review source, the film's test screenings are making it look like a divisive film, much in the way Man of Steel was. Now, Man of Steel definitely wasn't a slouch at the box office, but if Dawn of Justice generates the same kind of critical and popular conflict, it could underperform much in the way that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did, and that film -- once seen by Sony as the launchpad for its own shared universe -- ultimately led to Spidey returning to Marvel.

Now, obviously Warner Bros. is not about to give up its plan for a superhero universe to rival Marvel's, but what does this mean in the long run? Well, some of that will depend on how Dawn of Justice actually performs versus how insiders perceive it will perform, but at the moment it's hard to see all that much changing. Zack Snyder is already on the verge of Justice League production, Wonder Woman is on its way to release, and it's likely that the rest of the release schedule will follow suit. That said, if Dawn of Justice underperforms, we could wind up with a different version of Justice League -- one, say, spearheaded by Batman -- than the studio intended. Then again, this could all just be a false alarm. We'll find out next month.

(Via Latino Review)

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