If you thought the shake up at DC Entertainment was done with Diane Nelson’s retirement last week, well, you were mistaken. It turns out another executive is stepping down to focus on more creative pursuits.
The Hollywood Reporter states that DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns is stepping down from that position, a post he has held since 2010, to jump start Mad Ghost Productions where he will focus on writing and producing projects for films and comic books. The company will have a first-look agreement with Warner Brothers. Current DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee will now add the Chief Creative Officer duties. Implied, but not explicitly stated, is that Johns will also be stepping down as president of DC Films, leaving the recently appointed Walter Hamada the sole president of that company.
While Johns currently is writing and producing Wonder Woman 2 in addition to co-writing and executive producing Aquaman, his first film as a free agent will be Green Lantern Corps, which he will be writing and producing. For comics, he will have his own boutique imprint at DC Comics called “The Killing Zone” dedicated to the company’s lesser known characters. He will also be writing a Shazam! comic book series and finally get around to writing his planned Three Jokers series. He will also be able to devote more time to his current series, the perpetually late Doomsday Clock.
Johns got his start in the world of films as an assistant to Richard Donner on Conspiracy Theory and Lethal Weapon 4. He parlayed that job into a work writing in comics, predominantly at DC Comics. He soon became one of the comic book world’s most popular writers, which led to him working on a number of high-profile series while he was moving up the corporate ladder.
While Johns’ move is being presented as him escaping the shackles of the boardroom to go play in the creative fields he loves so much, his departure paired not only with Nelson’s departure last week but also Walter Hamada’s installation as president of DC Films to replace of Jon Berg back in January give it the feel of a corporate bloodbath meant to right the DC Entertainment ship.
The DC Extended Universe, with the exception of Wonder Woman, have underperformed financially and critically. Johns promotion to head of DC Films with Berg in 2016 was an attempt to improve the DCEU slate, and might be a reason why Wonder Woman was so successful. Johns and Berg stated that corporate influence was the reason why the previous films failed (And rumors that Johns “clashed loudly” with Nelson might be the corporate influence he was speaking of), and now that their new philosophy was in place, fortunes would get better.
However, Justice League was filled with turmoil and seemed to indicated a backsliding of the film series to the pre-Wonder Woman days. And rumor has it that part of the turmoil involved Johns’ hands-on rewriting of the script.
WB was allegedly so unsatisfied with how the Johns/Snyder version was shaping up that they convened a footage summit for *other* writers including Joss Whedon, Allan Heinberg, Seth Grahame-Smith, and Andrea Berloff to offer feedback. Then they hired Whedon.
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) June 11, 2018
It looks like Warners is going scorched Earth with the DC films, leaving business savvy yet comics non-savvy Walter Hamada left to pick up the pieces. .
More on this as it develops.