This year has proved nothing if not financially and critically lean for Warner Bros.; despite the successes of Mad Max: Fury Road, and San Andreas, most of the Summer films produced by the Hollywood studio have fallen flat. Given the competitive landscape of modern blockbusters, the company has now come out and publicly rationalized their decision to move their biggest upcoming release, Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, to 2016.
According to Indiewire, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara has spoken out about the major decision to delay the release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice to 2016 – as opposed to July 17 of this year. He said:
It was a tough decision at the time because it was going to create a hole in 2015… But it was absolutely the right decision for the franchise, for DC and the movie. Having seen the movie multiple times, and again last night, I’m extremely confident it was the right decision to make the movie better. And it’s so important for the studio to get the foundation right on DC.
This decision shows a level of patience uncharacteristic for a Hollywood studio. Outside of some early successes in May – Mad Max and San Andreas – WB box office results ranged from modest at best (Magic Mike XXL) to downright flop at worst (Vacation). To put it bluntly, they essentially conceded the summer of 2015 to Universal, who pumped out hit after hit, ranging from Jurassic World to Minions and even the surprise hit Straight Outta Compton.
After the failure of 2011’s Ryan Reynolds-fronted Green Lantern, and the lukewarm response to Man of Steel, Warner Bros. recognizes that they need to take the necessary time to ensure that their DC Extended Universe starts off on solid footing. However, there’s also an underlying irony to the delay, as many have previously accused WB of including Ben Affleck’s Batman – as well as Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman – in the film as a way of rushing to establish their cinematic universe, and compete with Marvel Studios. Ultimately, the gamble appears to have paid off based on the early screenings of Batman V Superman – which received an overwhelmingly positive reception from Warner Bros. executives. I know, I know. Preaching to the choir.
Outside of box office results, WB actually had an interesting summer. In terms of marketing, between Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, they arguably dominated this year’s San Diego Comic-Con – which goes a long way in generating interest for their future projects. The characters that inhabit these films – Batman, Superman, Joker, Harley Quinn, etc. – have rabid fan bases whose willingness to see the films will likely not dissolve based on wait time, but will respond negatively if the films do not meet their high standards. As such, it becomes essential for WB to ensure they produce the best possible product.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters on March 25, 2016. Will it have been worth the wait?