Recent history hasn't been kind to film studios. After the global pandemic halted production in 2020, studios have struggled with delays, travel constraints, new health and safety measures, the streaming wars, and even the questionable future of theaters. Amidst it all, Warner Bros. has been grappling with its own unique struggles; and now, new issues coupled with its impending merger created a new sense of uncertainty.
First announced in 2021, the merger between Discovery and Warner Bros. is set to be made official on April 8, formally uniting the two media giants under a new title: Warner Bros. Discovery.
Considering Discovery+ is the home of HGTV, the Food Network, and Animal Planet, the $43 billion dollar deal is expected to make a splash in terms of streaming once HBO Max and Discovery+ combine their libraries. However, due to the ousting of Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, and HBO Max executive vice president Andy Forssell, the merger has already impacted all divisions of the two conglomerates.
On the eve of the deal's completion and following news of Warner Bros. star Ezra Miller's legal issues, film fans are now learning how these issues and changes will affect Warner Bros. film division and its upcoming slate of blockbusters.
Warner Bros. Blockbuster Slate Delayed Ahead of Merger
According to Rolling Stone, Warner Bros. has decided to steer clear of any major decision-making concerning its tentpole blockbusters ahead of its merger with Discovery.
While the latter film, directed by Andy Muschietti, came as a surprise at the time, recent news of his arrest and restraining order due to harassment as well as new reports of his difficult behavior on set have thrown the future of the DC film and its star into question.
In addition to DC, other "tentpoles" owned by Warner Bros. that could be affected by this pause consist of Harry Potter, Godzilla, LEGO, and Sherlock Holmes.
Yet Another New Direction for the DCU?
Warner Bros. has long been the home of DC Entertainment. But as Marvel Studios came to dominate the box office, Warner Bros.' DC films have only been followed by controversy, involving that of director Joss Whedon and the initial handling of 2017's Justice League.
As DC's own Multiversal film, it was expected that The Flash would serve as a sort of "reset button" for its connected comic book film universe.
But now, in light of Miller's troubles and coupled with new leadership at the helm of Warner Bros. Discovery, it will be fascinating to see if the new studio heads will adopt the previous vision or pursue another.
In the meantime, this sort of pause in decision-making is disappointing for fans as it could lead to further delays or even more uncertainty for beloved film franchises. Still, considering the problems of the past, new leadership and direction may better serve audiences and these properties. However, it may be quite some time before that becomes clear.