Warner Bros. has a major flop on its hands, following this past weekend's Pan release. The Peter Pan origins movie cost $150 million to produce and is expected to lose the studio...$150 million. Warner Bros. also suffered losses from this Wachowskis' expensive Jupiter Ascending earlier this year - and its Tarzan reboot may also be headed for trouble.
Tarzan, the latest in a long, long, line of films about Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous "Ape-Man", is headlined by Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) as Tarzan and Wolf of Wall Street's Margot Robbie (also Harley Quinn in the upcoming Suicide Squad) as Jane. Though Tarzan is not yet finished, director David Yates (Harry Potter 5-8) has already started shooting his next Warners project: the Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
THR is reporting that Tarzan is currently weighed down with bad buzz, as Warner's execs were not impressed with the early test screenings. Execs on the film claim there is plenty of time to revise and rework it as needed; yet, Tarzan (even with a $180 million price tag) is a lower priority for the studio than Beasts - which Warners mark as a key release - so no one is pulling Yates off it to do extra work on getting Tarzan up to snuff. A big-budget movie of this scope can only get reworked so much without its director's undivided attention, after all.
Sources at WB have assured THR that the situation is under control, saying:
"While it's somewhat unusual, we are extremely comfortable with the production timelines, which were set in advance, and have total confidence in the skill of David Yates — who is a four-time Harry Potter director — to deliver both of these pictures."
Yates has declined to comment on THR's article, but another source told the site that Fantastic Beasts has affected Tarzan's post-production to some degree:
"The schedule of the J.K. Rowling movie got in the way of an appropriate postproduction schedule on Tarzan...Why would you ever crowd a director into starting a movie before his other movie is properly finished?"
Wall Street analyst Harold Vogel says he wouldn't judge any film before its release, but that has concerns about the Warners slate in general - saying "The whole strategy over the last two years has been to emulate Disney and Marvel." That includes Marvel Studios' fast-turnaround time, which is why Yates is now reviewing Tarzan footage on the weekends while shooting Fantastic Beasts during the week. It's a challenging schedule that other directors have managed before him (Steven Spielberg, for instance, famously worked on Jurassic Park and Schindler's List at the same time), but it's not a recipe for sure-fire success, either.
Though Warners has an impressively full slate of what should be high-grossing movies coming up (Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, in addition to Fantastic Beasts), Tarzan could be a black spot on its 2016 slate - similar to how Pan under-performed in 2015. However, it is possible that Warners will end up pushing Tarzan back to allow for more post-production time - since it already has another "risky" tentpole (Knights of the Round Table) due for arrival the same month as Yates' Ape-Man epic.
And in more positive news concerning Warners...
Tarzan is currently slated to reach U.S. theaters on July 1st, 2016.