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The Flash: New Data Reveals How Ezra Miller Controversy Could Hurt Box Office

The Flash Ezra Miller
By Savannah Sanders

The one constant at Warner Bros. Discovery these days appears to be controversy. As the studio doubles down on its cancellation spree, one film which appears to be moving forward also happens to be its most problematic - The Flash starring Ezra Miller.

This multiversal flick, which features multiple versions of Miller's Scarlet Speedster, is also set to star multiple Batmans, including Michael Keaton in his return to the cowl, along with Ben Affleck. 

Since The Flash was one of Warner Bros.' more anticipated DC films, it wouldn't have been in CEO David Zaslav's cancellation crosshairs; but due to Miller's string of arrests and disturbing allegations, some believe it ought to be. 

Data Supports Warner Bros. Canceling or Recasting The Flash

Following the actor's latest arrest, Warner Bros. Discovery revealed three scenarios for how the studio would handle the film, ranging from limited press to the most extreme option of cancelation. Due to Miller releasing an apology days later, it appears cancellation isn't the scenario that Warner Bros. Discovery is looking to pursue; but according to new data, perhaps it should be.   

According to a study by Morning Consult, more than 2 in 5 U.S. adults (42%) are against a studio releasing a film starring an actor accused of serious crimes, such as The Flash, which would have a  significant negative impact on that movie's box office return. 

"Should ‘The Flash’ be canceled following Ezra Miller’s alleged behavior? More than 2 in 5 adults say a film like 'The Flash,’ with a star accused of a variety of serious crimes, should never be released."

To date, Ezra Miller has been arrested multiple times on charges ranging from disorderly conduct and harassment to assault and burglary. The actor has also been accused of grooming minors and having weapons within the reach of children. 

In this survey, which was conducted before Ezra Miller's apology and was not specific to The Flash, U.S. moviegoers were largely supportive of recasting if an actor/actress had been accused of threatening others, felony burglary, having unattended firearms around children, and physical assault. 

Cancel Data The Flash
Morning Consult

However, more moviegoers were in favor of canceling the film altogether in the event that an actor or actress had been accused of grooming children or all of the above. In fact, 42% said a studio should cancel and never release it.

Considering Ezra Miller's list of allegations puts them in the category of all the above, only 14% of adults are in agreement with Warner Bros. Discovery's current intention of moving forward with The Flash.

Meanwhile, nearly 4 in 5 Americans haven’t heard much or anything at all about Miller’s arrests and controversies, and most who have heard about them (64%) said they still plan to see The Flash either in theaters or on streaming.

In terms of how a studio should handle a star who's been accused of a wide range of misconduct, 72% of U.S. adults said they would support a studio cutting all ties with them, while 43% strongly support the studio condemning the actor or actress' actions. 

While Warner Bros. Discovery has decided to call it quits with Miller once The Flash is released, the studio has also praised The Flash as a film and only addressed the actor's actions in terms of its three-option plan. 

Cancel Data The Flash
Morning Consult

In addition, 70% percent of U.S. adults expressed support for removing the actor/actress from film advertising, and 61% support removing the actor/actress' name from the credits. 

Despite the results from this study, those who are aware of Ezra Miller's misconduct say they still intend to see The Flash, including Gen Z adults who are likely more aware of the allegations due to social media platforms like TikTok. 

Meanwhile, nearly 4 in 5 Americans are still largely unaware of the extent of Ezra Miller's actions and the controversy itself. 

The Cost of Saving The Flash 

Just to recap, due to the variety of allegations against Ezra Miller, and particularly those relating to children, 42% of U.S. moviegoing adults believe Warner Bros. Discovery should cancel The Flash and never release it. Meanwhile, 33% believe he should be recast. 

Therefore, 75% of U.S. moviegoing adults are against what appears to be Warner Bros. Discovery's current course of action, which is moving forward with the film's release

Whether Miller's apology would have any effect on the opinions of those polled is unknown. 

In light of this newly released data, the only explanation for why the studio remains determined to release The Flash, and without recasting Miller, has to be money. 

Warner Bros. Discovery knows that audiences are still willing to see the film. Couple that with an apology from the film's embattled star and a 2023 release window, and Warner Bros. Discovery feels the box office reward is worth the risk. 

But even though filmgoers may not practice what they preach, the decision to save The Flash is likely a short-term investment in terms of the studio's reputation and public opinion. In fact, choosing not to recast or release pretty much says that the studio values its bottom line over its audience's opinion. 

And, while it may be true that most Americans are unaware of Miller's actions, who's to say that will still be the case come June 2023? 

Even if Miller turns themself around in the coming months, the actor will still have to answer for their actions; and like it or not, the narrative leading up to The Flash's release will involve what Warner Bros. Discovery is seemingly trying to overlook now

In a way, releasing the film will only make the public more aware of it. 

Whether the studio intends to take additional action concerning The Flash, or if data such as this and/or Ezra Miller's apology will have an effect, remains to be seen. In the meantime, this DC film remains one of the industry's most complicated and frustrating projects in recent memory. 

The Flash is set to release in theaters on June 23, 2023.


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