One of the primary reasons Warner Bros. did not delay the theatrical release of Justice League amidst the film's numerous production problems was so studio executives could preserve their bonuses that were set to be paid out this year. It goes without saying that the DC Extended Universe team-up film had quite the troubled road to the big screen, with Joss Whedon stepping in earlier this year to over see extensive reshoots and post-production after Zack Snyder departed the project due to a family tragedy. The end result was a messy Frankenstein's monster of a movie that tried to blend the upbeat, quippy style of Whedon with the more serious-minded sensibilities of Snyder, and it was hardly what fans were looking for.
Garnering a mixed response from critics and scoring the worst domestic opening weekend in the franchise's short history, many would agree in retrospect that WB might have been better served delaying Justice League in order to give Whedon and his team more breathing room to complete the picture. While that would have been a blow for viewers eagerly anticipating Justice League, it could have saved what's turned out to be a disaster for the studio and helped them avoid top-tier competition (Thor: Ragnarok, Coco). As it turns out, there's a reason why Justice League always stayed on schedule for November 2017, and it's one that won't sit well with audiences.
According to a report in The Wrap, WB president Toby Emmerich and CEO Kevin Tsujihara were motivated to "preserve their bonuses" that were to be paid out prior to Time Warner's impending merger with AT&T. If Justice League was delayed, those bonuses would be pushed back to 2018, and "they might not still be at the studio." However, it's worth noting that another WB insider informed The Wrap that bonuses are also "awarded for making good decisions," so if rescheduling Justice League proved to be beneficial, there would be something to gain.
This development will undeniably be frustrating for fans, as it is another instance of the studio meddling with the film. WB also mandated the runtime be under two hours, a decision that negatively impacted plot and character development. The reshoots were nightmarish enough to deal with, since the actors' busy schedules proved to be a logistical nightmare and Henry Cavill's infamous Mission: Impossible 6 mustache (which Paramount said he couldn't shave) gave way to the uncanny valley's upper lip after it was digitally removed. It's clear Justice League was rushed to the finish line, and with more time, the crew presumably would have been able to perfect the visual effects and integrate the lighter tone more naturally so it felt like the product of a clear vision. Being up against the gun in order to meet a pre-determined date didn't do anyone any favors, and WB is left picking up the pieces.
The future of the DCEU is in an interesting place now given the response to Justice League. Thought to be the property's flagship, WB now runs the risk of losing up to $100 million on their $300 million investment, hoping the likes of Aquaman and Wonder Woman 2 can generate goodwill and help the series rebound after a tough time. Hopefully, everyone involved learned their lessons from this experience and future productions will go much smoother. Justice League isn't enough to kill the entire franchise (especially with Flashpoint an intriguing option), but WB can't take many more hits like this,
Source: The Wrap
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019