The AT&T executive recently placed in charge of WarnerMedia, John Stankey, believes that recent DCEU movies have been heading in a positive direction both in terms of quality and behind-the-scenes management. The Texas-based conglomerate AT&T recently completed their buyout of Time Warner, acquiring the likes of Warner Bros. and HBO as a result, and Stankey was chosen to head up AT&T's new media properties. Stankey was previously CEO of the AT&T Entertainment Group and will take over from outgoing Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.
One of the many major franchises that now falls under the AT&T umbrella is the DC movie franchise, unofficially titled the DC Extended Universe. Beginning with Man of Steel in 2013, the DCEU has grown over the course of several movies, ultimately culminating in last year's Justice League. The shared superhero movie universe concept was popularized by Marvel Studios and their franchise has attracted consistent success both in terms of critical reaction and box office numbers. By contrast, the DCEU has struggled somewhat. Its output has not been as lucrative as that of the MCU and, Wonder Woman aside, their movies have not been as well received.
However, new boss Stankey believes that recent DCEU efforts have at least been heading in the right direction both in terms of quality and management. In an interview with THR, Stankey spoke about how he will approach the DCEU and where improvements may be needed. Stankey stated:
"First of all, I think the performance [of DCEU movies] over the past year and a half is trending the right direction in terms of the quality of the product and how the franchise is being managed. So hats off to Kevin [Tsujihara] and the team around getting the momentum headed the right direction. Obviously, there were some public things that have occurred over the last couple of weeks that would indicate that some additional change is underway. My involvement in that is to make sure I support Kevin in getting the absolute best talent possible and we'll take that franchise to the next level. That's his set of decisions to make and his direction to go in.
We obviously want to go to creatives and talk about what we can do with our platforms now that are different than what a stand-alone Time Warner could do prior to the transaction. That’s a unique opportunity, and I want to make sure I can help Kevin sell that and get the right amount of talent in here to elevate the franchise to a new level."
Although Stankey evidently seems pleased with the direction the DCEU franchise is currently heading, it's likely that many fans would disagree with his position - at least in terms of the most recent release. Wonder Woman may have been an undoubted hit but Justice League was as divisive as any other DCEU entry and failed to trouble its Marvel counterpart financially. Whether Justice League and the script drama that muddied its production could be seen as the embodiment of a steadied ship is very much up for debate.
With that said, it does seem abundantly clear that Stankey recognizes the potential of the DC universe and is fully aware that these movies could be performing much better. His comments also indicate that fresh creative staff will be forthcoming. The public occurrences Stankey mentions in his interview are the exits of DC Entertainment heads Diane Nelson and Geoff Johns and although it was announced that Jim Lee would be taking over Johns' Chief Creative Officer title, Stankey strongly implies that further names are going to be drafted in to help improve the DCEU and the man obviously feels that AT&T's reach and influence can help elevate the franchise.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020