The hierarchy of power in the DC universe is indeed changing.
In a stunning turn of events, filmmaker James Gunn and producer Peter Safran have been tapped to lead DC’s film, television and animation efforts as co-chairmen and co-directors of DC Studios, the newly formed division within Warner Bros. that will replace DC. Movies.
The unprecedented move for a top executive to take over as top executive marks the end of a months-long search for a chief executive at Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav, who would replace DC Films chief Walter Hamada, who left the studio last week. The search has all of Hollywood guessing and playing executive bingo as to who will land one of the most coveted—and demanding—jobs in town.
In recent weeks, Gunn and Safran have been spotted on the Warner Bros. property meeting with Warners film co-chairman Michael De Luca about future projects. And according to sources, the first overture to Safran and Gunn came from De Luca over the summer, though the studio was in tentative talks with producer Dan Lin to take on the job. OTT Full Form – What is OTT? What is an OTT platform and how does it work?
Gunn will focus on the creative side of things, while Safran will focus on the business and production side. Both are expected to continue directing and producing projects, respectively. They will report directly to Zaslav and work closely with Warners film bosses De Luca and Pamela Abdy. Sources say the deal is for four years and Gunn will be exclusive to DC. The idea is for them to not just be producers, but to actually function as managers, even if Gunn occasionally polishes the film.
Unlike Marvel Studios, DC has several films set in separate creative universes, and according to sources, Joker filmmaker Todd Phillips’ work on the upcoming sequel, which will go into production later this year, will not fall under the supervision of Gunn and Safran, and will instead be overseen by De Luca and Abdy’s. Matt Reeves, who worked under Hamada, has a budding universe based on his film The Batman. It’s unclear who Reeves’ future projects will fall under, but everything else going forward will be under Gunn and Safran.
“DC has one of the funniest, most powerful and most iconic characters in the world, and I’m thrilled to have the unique and complementary talents of James and Peter join our top team to oversee the creative direction of the storied DC Universe,” he said. Zaslav in a statement. “Their decades of experience in filmmaking, close ties to the creative community and proven track record of exciting superhero fans around the world make them uniquely qualified to develop a long-term strategy for film, television and animation to capitalize on this iconic franchise. the next level of creative storytelling.”
Gunn is one of the most respected minds in the comic book world. Emerging in the independent film space, he became the director of Marvel Studios’ A-list Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014 and its 2017 sequel. In 2018, he jumped to DC to develop The Suicide Squad after rival Marvel fired him as directed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. (The studio later renewed it, and that project is slated for a May 2023 release.) His DC foray The Suicide Squad was critically adored and spawned the hit HBO Max spinoff Peacemaker starring John Cena. Gunn is currently working on a second season.
Safran came in as a manager, where Gunn was among his clients, and is fully involved in the DC universe as a producer of the $1 billion-grossing Aquaman and its upcoming sequel, as well as Squad, Peacemaker, and Shazam! and its continuation. His relationship with Warners goes back 10 years and includes the $2 billion Conjuring horror franchise. Safran recently renewed its production deal with Warners.
Gunn and Safran will work with WBD’s top executives, including TV boss Channing Dungey; HBO and HBO Max’s Casey Bloys; US Networks Group President and Chief Content Officer Kathleen Finch; head of consumer goods Pam Lifford; and David Haddad of Warner Interactive Entertainment. DC Studios will share resources across the company.
“We are honored to be the stewards of these DC characters we have loved since childhood,” Gunn and Safran said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the world’s most talented writers, directors and actors to create an integrated, multi-layered universe that still allows for the individual expression of the artists involved. Our commitment to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Harley Quinn and the rest of DC’s stable of characters is equaled only by our commitment to the wonder of human possibility that these characters represent. We are thrilled to bring the theatrical experience to life around the world as we tell some of the biggest, most beautiful and grandest stories ever told.”
The move comes at a seismic moment for DC, which has been led by Hamada under the DC Films banner for the past four years. The executive left amid friction with new Warners management led by Zaslav, who made the controversial decision to cut HBO Max’s Batgirl movie in August and vowed to rebuild DC with a 10-year plan as it seeks to compete with rival Marvel Studios. While Zaslav has talked about finding a Kevin Feige-style manager, over the summer the team began looking to emulate the Pixar model, where you have producers and filmmakers working as executives. This has never been tried in the live event space.
DC released Black Adam over the weekend, starring Dwayne Johnson and marking the return of Superman actor Henry Cavill to the DC Universe, and next up is Shazam! Fury of the Gods will be released in March.
As for Gunn’s future at Marvel, there has been talk that he might continue in some form after his Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy concludes. However, today’s news, which comes hours after Marvel touted its upcoming Guardians special for Guardians of the Galaxy holiday, seems to have closed the door on its chapter in the MCU.
Effective November 1, the hire comes as De Luca and Abdy make creative decisions and oversee post-production on everything from The Flash to Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom since taking over their posts in early July.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have James Gunn and Peter Safran join the team and take the helm of the DC Universe,” De Luca and Abdy said in a statement. “James is a great filmmaker and storyteller, and Peter is a hugely successful and prolific producer, and to have them both commit to working together to create this new era of DC is literally a dream come true. We all share a very similar sensibility and passion for this universe and the stars couldn’t have aligned better. We can’t wait to get started, dive in and collaborate with these unparalleled creative minds.”