There’s an interesting post over at Bleeding Cool which is stating that Warner Brothers might be digging deeper into their stable of DC Comics characters than we thought. According to their unsourced report the studio will be announcing next year –
A series of lower-prominence comic books being turned into relatively lower budget movies.
Suicide Squad is one specifically mentioned as only needing a $40 million budget, pre-marketing. Some could be made for as little as $20 million.
And with two-a-year scheduled for Spring and Fall/Autumn, Warners can expand the Man Of Steel/Batman universe significantly, and make a decent profit in the process.
The two-a-year model seems to be working pretty well for Marvel right now, but as Warners has to spread their overall yearly production budget amongst a number of projects and not just superhero films, I can see them still wanting to get some product out there for their perceived piece of the superhero movie pie. Lower-budgeted films featuring lesser-known characters seems like a good way to do that while keeping the financial risk mucher lower than that of the traditional, bigger-budgeted
Now in this era where it seems a prerequisite that superhero films have budgets that are in the 100s of millions of dollars range, it should be noted that there have been plenty of science-fiction/superhero films that have been made for the price range that Warners seems to be looking at. RED, which was based off a miniseries published by the DC imprint Homage, only had a budget of $58 million despite having some high-priced names in the cast. The Losers, based on a series from DC’s Vertigo imprint, had a budget of just $25 million. The original science-fiction thriller District 9 had a budget of roughly $30 million but still managed to look like a film that cost multiples of that amount. The same for Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s highly stylized Sin City which also only cost $40 million and the superhero dark comedy Kick Ass, which reportedly only cost $28 million.
With that in mind, it is conceivable that Warners could launch a series of lower-budgeted comic book adaptations that tied into the larger-budgeted Man Of Steel universe they’ve already established and will continue to grow with 2015’s Batman Vs Superman and the eventual Justice League film and its spinoffs of The Flash, Wonder Woman and more. But the company will have to find the right characters to make this happen, matching the right hero with the right take.
Personally, I think that there are a number of characters who could used in smaller budget films. Non-powered characters like the Question or Wildcat spring to mind. Even superheroes who don’t necessarily lend themselves to sprawling epic stories like Ragman, Elongated Man, Deadman or Zatana could be prime candidates here. Remember, every movie doesn’t have to have end-of-the-world stakes and perhaps smaller scale adventures would help keep audiences from being burned out on the bigger spectacle stuff as quickly.
It should be interesting to see how this develops.