American Psycho author and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis caused a tempest in the internet teapot earlier this week when he claimed to have spoken with executives from Warner Bros. who described the top-secret screenplay for Ben Affleck’s The Batman movie as “a mess” – and what’s more, that the studio wasn’t interested in fixing it because a bad script wouldn’t hurt the film at the box office. Not the news that hopeful DCEU fans wanted to hear.
Now, however, Ellis is walking his comments back on his Facebook feed. In a Friday piece on The Ringer focusing on the changing dynamics of film production versus television, Ellis was one of several industry figures cited in anecdotes highlighting broader development trends. Describing an encounter with Warner Bros. executives, Ellis was quoted as saying:
“The executives I was having dinner with were complaining about people who work on the Batman movie. And they just said they went to the studio and they said, ‘Look, the script is … Here’s 30 things that are wrong with it that we can fix.’ And [the executives] said, ‘We don’t care. We don’t really care. The amount of money we’re going to make globally, I mean 70 percent of our audience is not going to be seeing this in English. And it doesn’t really matter, these things that you’re bringing up about the flaws of the script.’ So I do think global concerns play a big part in how movies, and what movies, are being made, obviously.”
The quote went viral, along with the rest of the piece, and became one of the most talked-about film stories of the moment on social media. However, Ellis has now offered a clarification of his remarks on his own Facebook feed – emphasizing that he was describing second-hand information and had not seen the script himself:
“During a long interview with The Ringer’s Sean Fennessey, we talked about reasons why studio movies are so bad now and touched on the global needs of the marketplace. I told him something I had heard about the new Batman movie as an example of what might be the problem: I was talking with two executives who have NOTHING to do with the Batman movie and who KNEW people who were involved with the production. The two executives I was having dinner with were relating the problems they had heard about the script from people working on the Batman project–that’s all. I know no one involved with the Batman movie and I didn’t realize that my comments would make it into The Ringer piece or else I wouldn’t have cited that particular movie–I have no idea what the Batman script is like and I regret that it came off as if I was disparaging the project. Another reason to be careful giving interviews.”
The controversy broke at the tail end of a week of wildly varied news for Warner Bros.’ troubled superhero franchise, most notably the launch of the Wonder Woman trailer and the surprise departure of The Flash director Rick Famuyiwa. The Batman (which has still not officially entered pre-production) is planned as a project for Ben Affleck to co-write, direct and star in, some time after the release of Warner Bros.’ Justice League.