Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav Continues To Hype James Gunn, But Seemingly Predicts Multiple Failures: “Half The Time Or Two-Thirds Of The Time It’s Not Gonna Work”

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav via CNBC Television YouTube

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav continued to try and build hype around the future of the DC Universe and DC Studios CEO James Gunn and his vision for the future, but he noted he expects at least half or even two-thirds of the projects won’t succeed.

David Zaslav via CNBC Make It

During a recent appearance at MoffetNathanson’s Technology, Media & Telecom Conference this week, Zaslav explained why he chose Gunn to lead DC Studios.

As reported by TheWrap, Zaslav said, “What we tried to do is get really great leadership. The philosophy of our company is we don’t want people to go to meetings, we want the people to do the work.”

He continued, “So when I was meeting with James Gunn and he was writing ‘Superman’ and he had written ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ — which is now a big hit for Marvel, which we’re happy about because Gunn wrote that movie and directed that movie — I’m looking at it and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Why isn’t this guy running [DC]?’”

Zaslav then detailed, “He grew up his whole life with DC, his whole life with these DC characters and he knows every one of them, they’re his family. He just wrote ‘Superman,’ which I read. This is the guy we want and everybody wants to work with him.”

James Gunn and Chris Pratt attend the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Premiere at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood CA on Thursday, April 27, 2023.
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

RELATED: James Gunn Differentiates What He Does At DC Studios From Peter Safran’s Duties And Kevin Feige’s At Marvel

Unfortunately, Zaslav’s claim is easily disproven as Batman actor Ben Affleck, who appears in the upcoming The Flash film recently made it clear he has no intention of working with James Gunn at DC.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in March, Affleck told the outlet, “I would not direct something for the [James] Gunn DC. Absolutely not.”

“I have nothing against James Gunn. Nice guy, sure he’s going to do a great job. I just wouldn’t want to go in and direct in the way they’re doing that. I’m not interested in that,” he added.

Ben Affleck as Batman in Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021), HBO Max

Gunn had previously indicated on Twitter that he had met with Affleck and Affleck had expressed interest in directing an upcoming project. Gunn wrote back in December, ““Met with Ben yesterday precisely because he wants to direct & we want him to direct; we just have to find the right project.”

James Gunn Twitter

RELATED: Rumor: James Gunn Seeking Black Actor For “Apex” Lex Luthor In ‘Superman: Legacy’

Nevertheless, Zaslav went on to provide more details about Gunn and his fellow co-CEO Peter Safran’s vision for the DC Universe, “We got a 10-year plan. ‘Superman’ is written, we’re early now in casting. He and Peter Safran are the real deal. We worked really hard on ‘Flash’ and ‘Black Adam.’ ‘Flash’ is a fantastic movie, it’s coming out in six weeks. We like the slate coming up.”

He continued, “Now, we think we made the turn on the motion picture business. We’ll see if we’re right. It’s a tough business. But now we have movies that we like, we have movies that when we test, they’re testing really well and we worked hard on them and so I have great belief in DC.”

All Star Superman #1 (2006), DC Comics

Time will tell on whether the upcoming slate proves successful, but recent releases that were in production before Gunn and Safran were appointed CEOs of DC Universe have failed at the box office.

Black Adam only grossed $391.2 million globally while reportedly having a $200 million production budget. Shazam! Fury of the Gods would do even worse only bringing in $132.2 million globally on a $125 million production budget.

Black Adam 12

Teth-Adam amidst the flames in Black Adam (2022), DC Films

RELATED: James Gunn Looking For A Superman With “Humanity” And Qualities Of “Somebody You Want to Hug” In His DCU

Black Adam’s failure saw Dwayne Johnson announce that Black Adam would not be part of James Gunn and Peter Safran’s vision for their first chapter of the DC Universe that Gunn calls Gods and Monsters.

Johnson announced on Twitter, “James Gunn and I connected, and Black Adam will not be in their first chapter of storytelling. However, DC and Seven Bucks have agreed to continue exploring the most valuable ways Black Adam can be utilized in future DC multiverse chapters.”

Dwayne Johnson Twitter

Shortly after it was clear Shazam! Fury of the Gods would lose significant money at the box office, the film’s director David F. Sandberg announced he was done with the superhero genre all together.

He wrote, “As I’ve been saying for a while now I’m very eager to go back to horror (as well as trying some new things). After six years of Shazam I’m definitely done with superheroes for now.”

David F. Sandberg Twitter

RELATED: James Gunn Confirms Door Is Still Open For Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Superman Film: “That’s An Exciting Movie”

Interestingly, Zaslav would tell those at the MoffetNathanson Conference he expects more failures while detailing the company’s new philosophy, “We’ve greenlit a number of projects and I think it’s one of the assets that was really underutilized and underdeveloped in the company. And we also have this philosophy at the company of no content before it’s time. This year, we don’t want to put a movie out or a game out unless we think it’s our best work.”

However, he then noted, “Even if we do that, half the time or two-thirds of the time it’s not gonna work. But that’s the new cultural philosophy of the company. We’re a storytelling company, the best creatives fight to make our content the best it could be.”

Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) attempts to kick start his powers in The Flash (2023), Warner Bros. Discovery

Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) attempts to kick start his powers in The Flash (2023), Warner Bros. Discovery

What do you make of Zaslav’s comments especially about his prediction that at least half and upwards of two-thirds of their projects will not work?

NEXT: Legendary DC Comics Writer Chuck Dixon Reacts To James Gunn’s DCU Slate: “I Don’t Think He Knows What The Audience Wants”

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