David Zaslav and the leadership at the newly created Warner Bros. Discovery are trying to maximize the DC universe to its fullest potential. During the company’s Q2 earnings call Thursday, Zaslav revealed there’s a specific team within WBD that’s focusing solely on DC properties, developing a 10-year roadmap of projects inspired by Kevin Feige and the MCU. It’s unclear who exactly is on that team, but it sounds like current DC Films president Walter Hamada may not be part of WBD’s long-term planning. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hamada is on the verge of parting ways with the studio following the decision by Zaslav to cancel the planned Batgirl film for HBO Max.
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Batgirl was canceled due to Zaslav’s renewed focus on the theatrical model, along with the desire to pursue high-quality DC projects. Hamada was reportedly informed of the film’s shelving at a recent test screening of Black Adam, with THR’s sources saying the head of DC films was unhappy about being left out of the decision-making process. Despite wanting to leave after learning of Batgirl’s fate, Hamada has seemingly agreed to stay with DC Films until at least the release of Black Adam. If the upcoming Dwayne Johnson blockbuster is a success, Hamada could choose to stay the course, but the axing of Batgirl may have done irreparable damage to the executive’s relationship with Warner Bros. Discovery.
Walter Hamada Ushered in a New Era of DC Films
Warner Bros. Pictures
After serving as a producer on a number of horror films for New LIne Cinema, including the first two Conjuring films and 2017’s It, Hamada was named president of DC Films in 2018. Warner Bros. turned to Hamada to right the ship after Justice League underperformed at the box office. The mixed critical reception to all three of Zack Synder’s DC films was another factor in WB’s president at the time Toby Emmerich entrusting Hamada with the future of the DCEU. Under Hamada’s leadership, films like Aquaman, Joker, and The Batman have been tremendous financial successes, while Shazam! and The Suicide Squad were well received critics and fans. Hamada’s record isn’t perfect however, as Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984 were less successful than their fellow DC films, even though they have their supporters. Overall, the quality of DC films has been much more consistent under Hamada, but that may not be the case for much longer.
As of now, it’s unclear what Zaslav’s succession plan would be if Hamada exits his role following the premiere of Black Adam. Since taking over as Warner Bros. Discovery CEO, Zaslav has been searching for a Kevin Feige-like figurehead to shepherd the development of all future DC projects. Since it seems like that person won’t be Hamada, the hunt will continue to try and get a stable leader at the top of WBD’s DC branch. With films like Black Adam, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and The Flash set to come out within the next year, Zaslav still has a bit of a runway to find the right person to spearhead the DC universe. Before that happens, the world of DC will most likely remain in flux until a singular creative vision can be established.