This morning, we told you about the rumor that Warner Bros. might be considering a major change in their superhero movie production by adding a great many smaller superhero movies to their schedule. I'm inclined to believe this rumor is true, because it's a terrible idea, and WB/DC specializes in those.
If you'll recall, the plan called for WB to release three movies per year, with budgets of about $20-40 million each, based on lesser-known DC characters like Booster Gold, Deathstroke, and teams like Suicide Squad and Team 7. At first glance, this appears like a good idea — getting more superheroes on screen, expanding the DC movie universe quickly, and making money while doing it.
But it's not a good idea, on many, many levels. First of all, while Warner Bros. certainly has its strengths, making smaller motion pictures — at least successful ones — is not one of them. The studio is just too big to make small movies well, and the company is too dependent on major blockbusters to keep afloat for them to want to spend the time to get better at them. Minimizing their resources on these comic book movies will doom them to fail from the very beginning — we can look to Jonah Hex and Catwoman for proof.
And those two box office bombs were made far apart. Does anyone really think that DC/WB can handle three lesser superhero movies a year, when they still can't do Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, or Justice League? (Or do Green Lantern right?) Trying to create that high output when they can't do more than one big budget Batman or Superman movie every couple of years is preposterous.
Even if they did manage to release three of these movies in a single year, who do they think is going to make them? Marvel has been kicking ass by planning ahead so they can hire the right people for the right superhero movies — Game of Thrones' Alan Taylor for Thor 2, Shane Black for Iron Man 3, Joe Johnston for Captain America. Does Warner Bros. think they're going to find three great directors for these small movies per year? Do they think they'll find three good directors for these movies? And all this goes double for the casts. This plan is a clear recipe for ending up with a Booster Gold movie starring Seann William Scott and directed by the guy who did The Expendables 2.
But say Warner Bros. makes these movies, and say they're actually good (because even in my wildest imagination I can't in good conscience pretend they'll be great). Here's the problem: Making three good DC movies about these lesser-known superheroes will not achieve the same things as one successful major DC movie. That is to say, Deathstroke, Booster Gold and Suicide Squad movies, no matter how good they are, will ever equal one good Wonder Woman movie. They won't make more money. They won't raise brand awareness. They won't get the attention, or the acclaim, or the press, or the love. Period.
So divvying up Warner Bros.' time and resources in this way is counter-productive in the extreme. It's like a Warner Bros. executive finally noticed Marvel was putting out two major superhero movies per year, and suddenly decided Warner Bros. needed to put out three! But then another executive told him they didn't have the money to make three major superhero movies per year, and then the first executive yelled, "We can if we make 'em quick and cheap!" And then they both went back to doing giant mounds of cocaine.
Warner Bros. is obviously putting quantity over quality, but quantity is not going to solve WB's DC problems. Churning out a bunch of mediocre superhero movies won't do anything but lose money and lose fans; it won't benefit Warner Bros., it won't benefit DC, it won't benefit the viewers, and it certainly won't benefit the characters. Hopefully, this rumor stays a rumor, and WB isn't really planning this. Because of they are, they're not going to finally succeed, they're just going to fail more often.