Lots of news out of Warner Brothers studios today, all of which will be effecting the studio’s release calendar.
First up, the studio has brought their release of Wonder Woman forward three weeks from June 23, 2017 to June 2, 2017. For many, Gal Gadot’s portrayal of the Amazonian princess was a highlight of an other wise dismal Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, making the upcoming Patty Jenkins-directed solo film a highly-anticipated one among fans. The move also takes the film away from the opening of Transformers 5, but puts it on the same weekend as the action flick sequel Bad Boys 3 and the kid-friendly Captain Underpants.
Additionally, the studio marked out two more dates for DC Extended Universe films – October 5, 2018 and November 1, 2019. There’s no word yet as to what those films could be, but their are some strong possibilities. The first is a solo Batman film. It was reported last week that Ben Affleck has already written the screenplay for such a film. Currently the actor is only contracted to play the Dark Knight in a cameo appearance in this summer’s Suicide Squad and then the upcoming two-part Justice League film. So if the studio wants to go ahead with a Batman film they’ll need to strike a new deal with the actor/writer/director. It is also possible that one of the spots is being reserved for a Suicide Sequel, if the supervillain team-up film coming out this summer does business to warrant a follow up. The studio has reportedly been developing a number of scripts based on other DC Comics properties, so it is possible that one of these projects may be selected for either one or both of these spots.
But Wonder Woman isn’t the only film that is moving around on the studio’s schedule. It was also announced that their adaption of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book has been pushed back from October 6, 2017 to October 19, 2018. While it is not clear as to what the impetus for the delay is, it is possible that the studio wants to put some more space between it and Disney’s own adaptation which has been getting strong advance word ahead of its April 15th opening.
The film is set to be motion-capture actor Andy Serkis’ directorial debut, and he seems to be fine with the decision.
I've got to say that personally I'm absolutely thrilled that Warner Brothers have changed the delivery date of Jungle…
So what has motivated the studio to add two more DC Extended Universe films to an already ambitious production slate?
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the studio may be mulling over a plan to shift their production output towards more big tentpole productions – specifically within the DC Extended Universe, Lego and the upcoming Harry Potter spinoff franchises. This move is reportedly in response to the poor box office performance of recent big budget films like Jupiter Ascending, Pan and In The Heart Of The Sea over 2015.
But I am not sure that putting all of their eggs into one, or in this case three, baskets is the right way to go for the studio. Or any studio for that matter. Sure, a franchise film has a pre-existing audience and that solves half the problems that a studio has when marketing a film. But franchises can fall out of favor or just plain fail. And if the studio does move away, though not completely abandon, producing moderately and/or lower budgeted films that come with lower financial risk, they may be creating a situation where the failure of more than one larger budgeted film may imperil the studio much more so than the failure of a number of smaller films. It’s a bigger gamble and the studio needs to win with virtually every roll of the dice.