Dwayne Johnson’s Tensions with Warner Bros. Revealed by New Report

Black Adam, Dwayne Johnson
By David Thompson Posted:

Superstar actor Dwayne Johnson pitched a future DCEU to Warner Bros. Discovery that would’ve involved a Black Adam vs. Henry Cavill’s Superman movie plans.

An uncommon marketing decision was made during Black Adam’s press tour, which involved The Rock spoiling the films post-credit scene. The scene brought back Superman actor Henry Cavill, giving fans hope that the actor would return for a Man of Steel 2 or a future DC crossover movie.

Less than four months after the film's release, Cavill’s return and the entirety of Black Adam feel irrelevant after DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn announced that Cavill will not return as the Man of Steel and the writer/director has begun penning an entirely new Superman story.

Following this announcement, Johnson also informed his fans that Black Adam will not be a part of Gunn’s upcoming DCU. A lot has happened since Warner Bros. put Black Adam exclusively in theaters back in October, and a new report has indicated that the connection between actor and studio hasn’t been the smoothest.

How 2022 Hurt Dwayne Johnson & Warner Bros. Relationship

Dwayne Johnson, Black Adam
DC

A new report by Variety shined a light on how strained the working relationship has become between Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Warner Bros. after DC League of Super-Pets and Black Adam.

Before Black Adam released, Johnson met with WBD CEO David Zaslav in an effort to persuade him to green-light a multi-year plan focusing on himself and Cavill’s Clark Kent. Following this power move, one source stated that “Dwayne went around everyone, which didn’t sit well” with some executives at Warner Bros.

With newly hired DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran, the future of Johnson’s Black Adam appears completely lost. The October big budget release ($235 million including re-shoots) only grossed $391 million at the worldwide box office.

Johnson’s other DC venture of 2022, DC League of Super-Pets, also became a strain on the actor's relationship with the studio, after requesting a producer credit, but minimally promoting the film.

Another odd request by Johnson was that his tequila brand Teremana be granted a bar at the New York premiere of Black Adam.

An insider told Variety, “His demands increased and the returns just weren’t there.” 

As a part of the report, box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian told the trade, “You can’t have a more modest budget when this level of talent is involved. Budgets are commensurate with the talent involved. Something with a lower budget like Shazam! is dubbed a hit, because ‘hits’ are based more on profitability.”

Due to The Rock’s stature in Hollywood and desire for his passion project, Black Adam, to be a hit, the bar was possibly set too high for DC’s latest superhero flick.

Was Black Adam Doomed From the Start?

If you expect disappointment, then you can never really be disappointed. 

This is the opposite of what happened with The Rock’s over-the-top promotion of Black Adam. A film that was a decade in the making, a character that Johnson fully took ownership of, and a lost universe grasping at straws for inspiration.

Black Adam will be looked back at as one of the last remnants of the DCEU previously defined by director Zack Snyder.

With more upcoming announcements imminent from James Gunn, it’s clear that Black Adam will be viewed as a Warner Bros. wrong that needs to be righted. 

Especially considering the fact that David Zaslav is in desperate need to cut costs for the media company (as seen in his decision to scrap Batgirl), an overwhelming budget mixed with an underwhelming box office performance by Black Adam is exactly what the studio can’t afford right now.

The 2023 DC slate is filled with possible big hitters like Shazam!: Fury of the Gods, The Flash, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

Black Adam is streaming now on HBO Max.