For over a year, action star Dwayne Johnson kept proclaiming the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe was about to change. While he was right, the change in the hierarchy did not work out in his favor, and a recent report claims that might be because “The People’s Champion” was overconfident and pushed too hard to get his way.
According to an inside source who spoke to Variety, Johnson held impromptu meetings that went over a few heads and made other demands that ruffled some feathers internally. Variety states he had discussions with incoming CEO David Zaslav about Black Adam’s future amid the power vacuum of outgoing studio executives. “Dwayne went around everyone, which didn’t sit well,” the source said.
Variety reported, “Not long after the Warner Bros. Discovery merger closed in April, Dwayne Johnson directly pitched CEO David Zaslav on a [multi-year] plan for Black Adam and a Cavill-led Superman in which the two properties would interweave, setting up a Superman-versus-Black Adam showdown.” Multiple sources confirm a meeting took place though some “downplayed any discussion of Black Adam’s future.”
We know The Man In Black doesn’t have one at the moment since his solo outing failed to gain a satisfactory liftoff at the box office in October. Between an estimated budget of $195 million and reshoot costs upwards of $40M, the $391M global gross didn’t constitute success or justify going forward with developing sequels, spinoffs, or anything with Henry Cavill as Superman.
Cavill would part ways with his management, Johnson’s ex-wife Dany Garcia, although the split is considered strictly a business decision and amicable. Meanwhile, the writing appeared to be on the wall for the Johnson/Seven Bucks-Warner Bros. relationship as far back as last summer. The former’s demands in pursuit of ruling the DC hierarchy reportedly became too obtrusive for the studio’s liking.
The actor had to push for the producer credit he got on DC’s League of Super-Pets but did noticeably little to promote it when it came out in July. Its release was swapped with Black Adam’s which he promoted harder. Johnson did every trick to get people to see Black Adam, even resorting to lightly spoiling the ending with Superman.
The beginning of the end seemingly came when Johnson “insisted on a tequila bar at the New York premiere of ‘Black Adam’ featuring his Teremana brand, despite the film being rated PG-13.” An insider noted, “His demands increased and the returns just weren’t there.” Box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian added Johnson “found himself in ‘a Catch-22’” with his passion project.
“You can’t have a more modest budget when this level of talent is involved,” Dergarabedian said. “Budgets are commensurate with the talent involved. Something with a lower budget like ‘Shazam!’ is dubbed a hit, because ‘hits’ are based more on profitability.” Shazam!’s worldwide total – $366M – was less than Black Adam’s but germane relative to its budget, $100M.
Johnson tried to prove Black Adam pocketed a small profit by presenting favorable data and comparing it to Captain America: The First Avenger. His data, however, was outed as fake by later reports, perhaps sealing his fate with DC and Cavill’s as well.
On an ironic side note, they may be out of a job at DC but Ezra Miller might not be after The Flash despite the actor’s misdeeds.