In a new Q&A covering his three-decade career, veteran producer Charles Roven confirms what many critics of Warner Bros.' DC Comics-based films undoubtedly suspected: When studio executives rolled out an ambitious 10-movie slate in 2014, they didn't have a contingency plan in case one of the projects went off the rails.
The admission came when Roven, whose credits include "Batman v Superman," "Suicide Squad," "Wonder Woman" and "Justice League," was asked by The Hollywood Reporter about "talk" that he's stepping back from DC Films.
"The studio made me the producer of all the DC movies, and they announced eight," he replied. "When we finished the [timetable], we looked at each other and said, 'This is incredibly ambitious, but we haven't taken into consideration if something goes wrong.' We also hadn't decided where we were going to shoot those movies. As difficult as it was for me to commute from Toronto to London to Italy, it became really clear I couldn't do the job that I do as a producer [with 'Aquaman' likely to shoot in Australia]. I'm for sure producing the sequels of the movies that I have made."
As io9.com points out, something is going wrong with "The Flash," which appears to still be racing toward a 2018 release, despite the loss of two directors and no one yet announced to take their place. Mind you, that approach and its accompanying pitfalls aren't unique to Warner Bros. or even DC Films, but rather a danger that comes with trying to replicate Marvel's success with an interconnected cinematic universe. The thing is, Marvel Studios built toward a multi-film slate released over the course of several years.
Some critics might also suggest that "something" went wrong with "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad," which by most accounts weren't the critical or commercial successes that Warner Bros. envisioned. However, when asked whether a potential sequel to either film might be produced on a lower budget, given the box-office receipts, Roven seemed somewhat incredulous.
"'Suicide Squad' made almost $750 million," he said. "Batman v Superman' did $873 million. Those two movies were huge hits."
Whether you consider them "huge hits" or not, Warner Bros. was clearly pleased enough to expand its DC Films plans even further, with a "Suicide Squad" spinoff led by Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and a Batman solo film directed by and starring Ben Affleck, who seems in no rush to go into production, even if the studio is. Those are in addition to "Wonder Woman" and "Justice League," arriving next year, "The Flash" and "Aquaman," targeted for 2018, "Shazam" and a "Justice League" sequel in 2019, and "Cyborg" and "Green Lantern" in 2020. Oh, plus possible sequels to "Suicide Squad" and "Man of Steel," and Doug Liman's "Justice League Dark."