Honor The Material – OR – Warner Bros. Is a Hot Mess

There’s something both heartbreaking and chillingly relevant to the time we live in as we watch the mess that is Warner Bros/Discover + flail about in the dark for some sort of direction. Seeing them shelve movies that were made for millions and millions of dollars so they can get a tax break is about as American as a thing you can do. It’s sort of like when Wu Tang Clan made an album and sold it to the highest bidder…only to have it go to a degenerate cheat who happened to be rich enough to secure it. It’s this creepy sort of Art For The Haves that we see with so much great art and now, with film. BATGIRL and SCOOB’s sequel were made and as of now, are slated never to be seen. 

That may change, I guess, but as of right now, that’s their plan. 

That the movies are gone. 

Lost. 

How crazy is that?

How cynical?

A company can mismange themselves to such a degree that it is better financial sense to swallow hundreds of millions of dollars for a write off than it is to release the films to see what happens. It isn’t even bankruptcy, it’s a write off. How screwy is our system?

Naturally the studio lauds the creatives and says how sorry they are to do it but, well, money, you know. 

No. 

I don’t know. 

NO ONE KNOWS. 

No one has the sort of money to blow it on freewheeling and poor planning. The company foolishly believed there were TONS of people desperate to watch cable level content about building homes and ghost catchers to warrant ANOTHER pay streaming service only to have it not meet their expectations. DUH!

The streaming ‘wars’ is just like every other of these things where the companies think they are the smartest in the room and over extend and then oopsy-poopsy their way back after crapping the bed. 

IDIOCY!

The problem, one of them at least, with WB is that they have no idea what to do with the DC properties. DC Comics is home to literal legendary characters. When you thought comicbook superheroes you would think Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, and then all the other stuff. They have no idea what to do with these properties though. Do they chase Marvel and what they are doing? Do they do their own thing? Do they create a connected universe? 

WHAT DO THEY DO?

So they stumble around and greenlight a dozen projects that both rely on and oppose one another. 

Let’s make a JOKER film that has nothing to do with BATMAN!

Hooray!
THEN let’s make a BATMAN movie that’s not related to that JOKER film. 

Sure!

And it worked, but it’s confusing. 

Then there’s the legacy of the Snyderverse. Do you jettison all of that and start over or do you continue down a path you didn’t believe in to begin with?

The problem is their seeming need to chase Marvel. 

Let Marvel BE Marvel. Let them do what they’re doing and let DC do things their way. 

They have SO many heroes, but no vision. 

Yet, you look at the CW shows and those worked. 

You look at Doom Patrol and it works. 

Some of the disconnected films WORK. 

It’s when they try to force it all together for a team up that they stumble. 

Focus on what works. 

Do the solo movies. 

Do the weird stuff. 

Find a consistent voice for DC. 

Honestly, other than the stuff in the hopper, maybe take a breath on that material until there’s someone with vision in place. 

Right now there’s a bean counter at the top and he has no love for anything. 

Reading the things he is saying too is crazy, how the stakeholders want to see box office receipts, not streaming numbers. 

What this tells me is that they don’t know what they’re doing. 

Every studio wants a box office hit. 

Duh.

It’s rarely that easy though. 

It’s a matter of product, marketing, and luck. 

And you have to balance what you’re willing to spend on promo and if it makes sense. 

They didn’t want to release BATWOMAN, in part, because they felt it was too ‘cheap’ to be a major release. Uh, WHAT? But they released JOKER and it made HUGE money. Sometimes that happens. 

We have seen ‘cheap’ movies. 

$90mil isn’t cheap. 

What if, just what IF that film hit in the same way say BLACK PANTHER hit, or WONDER WOMAN, and kids were inspired by the character? What if it became a lower cost hit?

Sure, it could bomb, or just be unloaded on streaming, but why not try to help it succeed since it’s already done?

The problem studios so often have is they think that more money makes a better movie. 

It doesn’t. 

It just fills a movie that is sometimes mediocre with bigger named actors to try to trick people into coming out. 

ETERNALS wasn’t a bad movie at all but it was a mess of too much going on and too many big name actors. 

They didn’t need that. 

They needed a cleaner story. 

Marvel can take chances now though. 

DC and WB can’t. 

But why not?

There is power in streaming. 

That is where things are moving and to deny that is to be a fool. 

So what do you do?

Do you do what WB/Discovery + is doing and just dump literally cheap content onto it, or do you make it something special like Disney is doing?

You open the vaults and put your vaulted films on there. 

You premiere lower cost films to premiere there. 

You showcase DC characters that don’t need the big screen. 

You treat this as another opportunity to grow branding. 

THEN you showcase the BIGGER things on the BIGGER screen. 

WW84 wasn’t great, but that wasn’t because it wasn’t on the big screen, it just felt like it had too much going on and not compelling villains. Invest in the films and their makers, trust them, and let them do their thing. 

Don’t sell out the streaming service though, and don’t use it like a back alley to dump your trash. 

By acting like it’s beneath the brand you tell me, as a consumer, that maybe I need to cancel my sub. 

And when you start canceling series and projects out of hand because you’re watching some phantom budget you just look like you have no idea what you’re doing. 

The whole company and its head is ‘saying the quiet part out loud’. 

It is a shame so many films that deserve the big screen don’t get it. PREY is a great example of that and shame on Disney for burying it on Hulu like they did. 

The streamers are still figuring it out but they aren’t there yet. 

There is room for new films, and those should be smaller movies, or movies that maybe take more chances. 

The bigger properties should be on a bigger screen. 

Look at something like Shudder, that consistently releases new content, some their own and some they pick up. HOST, HAUNT, and V/H/S/94 were great and built the Shudder brand but they were also smaller films that we expect on TVs. 

They know how to do it. 

Netflix and Amazon are ONLY home streamers so they are doing what makes the most sense. They are learning too though that some things do deserve a chance to see a big screen. 

Watching WB/Discovery + flail about, this proud brand brought so low, is depressing. It’s depressing for that brand, its legacy, and the creatives. I think the people running the show forget this brand’s legacy, and it shows. Yes, money matters, and you need to spend smarter and move more wisely, but in publicly taking big tax breaks, and cutting projects and shelving them without a care in the world tells all of us, especially the creatives, that maybe your days are numbered and it’s time to look elsewhere for our entertainment or opportunities. 

…c…

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