Is JJ Abrams’ lucky streak coming to a screeching halt at Warner Bros.? Abrams has always been something of a cinematic enigma who almost personifies the divide between movie fans and the studios who actually make the movies.
To studio heads, he was something of a golden child, who gets handed the keys to Mission Impossible, Star Trek, Star Wars and then expensively signed to Warner Bros. with eyes on the DCEU. Mentioned by some in the past as the heir to Spielberg.
To movie fans, he is a hack. A man whose movies lack substance, ape far superior talents, destroy much-loved franchises and who cannot write an ending for all the money in the world. They look at his continued progress as failing upwards, leaving creative wreckage in his wake.
There was always a sneaking suspicion, in the minds of movie fans, that somewhere, somehow, he may just get found out and then the mystique would be shattered, and studio heads would get to see exactly what fans felt they knew all along. It could be that this is happening right now at Warner Bros. in the wake of the Discovery acquisition. Is the gilet wearing assassin, CEO David Zaslev, about to strike again?
He has cancelled Abrams’ new series – Demimonde – at HBO. Abrams apparently pleaded with HBO boss Casey Bloys not to cancel the drama, but the budget of over $200 million for the first season sealed its fate as that was more than House of the Dragon cost.
There is even worse news for Abrams. We heard rumors that the new leadership at Warner Bros. Discovery place high importance on Superman as a property that can propel the new iteration of the DCEU forward. Apparently that same leadership were horrified at the Abrams plans for a new Superman movie. Remember, Abrams Superman: Flyby script was widely regarded as a disaster decades ago, too.
Add to this the news that Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy are in as studio heads over the top of Abrams, and that Joker director Todd Phillips is advising on creative direction for DC output, it seems Abrams designs on the DCEU are both cut off at the knees and beheaded at the same time.
Phillips has revealed a sequel to Joker is definitely in development by posting a shot of the cover of the film’s script on Instagram with the working title Joker: Folie a Deux. Phillips added a shot of star Joaquin Phoenix reading the screenplay.
That’s still not the end of the bad news for Bad Robot. According to The Hollywood Reporter, David Zaslav is reportedly unhappy with the lack of output from Abrams and Bad Robot since their $250 million big money transfer to WB in 2019. He is tasked with shaving $3 billion off the combined budget of the new company.
Abrams’ deal includes an adult animated Batman series, and Justice League Dark with spin-offs Constantine and Madame X. All of this had a vague feeling of throwing anything at the wall to see what sticks, which was characteristic of Warner’s approach to the DCEU since they allowed the Snyderverse to fail.
Time could be up for Abrams.