With Warner Bros. now under the management of former New Line executive Toby Emmerich, some industry insiders are predicting that the studio will look to trim budgets and avoid hiring auteur directors who would demand final cut. Concerns about hiring directors for tentpoles who will demand too much creative control are in the news recently with the mid-shoot firing of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from Disney and Lucasfilm’s Young Han Solo, a situation that led to great embarrassment for Lucasfilm.
When he presided over Warners imprint New Line, Toby Emmerich was known for keeping costs down and some believe his tenure at Warner Bros. could lead to the “New Line-ization” of the studio. In the past the studio has been accused of spending too much on risky projects, leading to some high-profile bombs.
Insiders believe even if Emmerich doesn’t totally “New Line-ize” the studio he will bring some of the philosophies he showed during his years at New Line to bear at Warner Bros, including avoiding potentially difficult directors who might cause budgets to swell. In a piece on Emmerich’s plans, THR quotes one person with ties to Warners as predicting that costs will go way down under Emmerich:
“Outside the silos, there has been a big waste of money on projects that don’t make sense. [Under Emmerich] they’re not going to make a movie like The Judge with Robert Downey Jr. for $60 million. For $35 million — maybe.”
This year Warner Bros. has taken a hard hit with some bombs that were greenlit under the previous regime, including Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Ben Affleck’s Live By Night. The bombing of Richie’s film completely scuttled plans to launch a King Arthur extended universe franchise, while the box office and critical failure of Live By Night is presumed to have forced the studio to remove Ben Affleck from directing The Batman (though it was made to seem Affleck stepped aside voluntarily) with Matt Reeves stepping in. Under the presumed new philosophy at Warner Bros., directors like Ritchie and Affleck who demand final cut would not be placed in charge of such projects.
Warner Bros. does of course have relationships with a few big-name directors who are known for delivering the goods on-time and under budget, including Christopher Nolan and Clint Eastwood, and insiders believe those directors would still have a home at the studio. Insiders also say that the studio’s big franchises – Harry Potter, LEGO and the DCEU – would not fall under any policy of cutting costs and avoiding pesky auteurs. So perhaps Warner Bros. should be said to be in line for only a partial “New Line-ization” under Toby Emmerich.
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