Charles Roven, the veteran producer who has worked on every DC Comics movie at Warner Bros. since 2005’s Batman Begins, is no longer producing certain DC movies, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Talks are underway to have Roven - who was a producer on Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as the recently completed Suicide Squad, next year’s Wonder Woman and Justice League - segue to a different role going forward, likely that of an executive producer who is not involved in day-to-day production. However, he potentially could continue to be a producer on some sequels to the movies he’s currently producing.
The extent of Roven’s involvement, and which titles he would work on, is “evolving,” according to multiple sources, who also stress that no final decisions have been made.
“Roven is a key member of not only the DC slate but of the Warner Bros. family,” says a studio spokesman.
The move comes as Warner Bros. continues to scrutinize its DC movies in the wake of BvS’s so-so performance at the box office and chilly reception from audiences. The movie, released March 25, wrapped its run with $871 million worldwide with a production budget of at least $300 million. While Warners insists the movie will be profitable, it was meant to kick off the studio’s DC cinematic universe with a billion-dollar bang, but instead was met with an unenthusiastic response from fans for being too dark and unheroic.
In stark contrast, Marvel Studios, well into its cinematic universe with 13 movies, has seen outsized success for its similarly themed Captain America: Civil War, which pits its heroes against each other. Civil War has earned raves from fans and critics and has grossed more than $1 billion in about three weeks.
Warners, which leverages its DC IP across multiple channels, among them publishing and video games, now is taking steps to course-correct its approach as it develops its superhero slate. It recently shuffled its executive ranks to have executive vp Jon Berg and Geoff Johns, DC’s chief content officer, co-run the newly created DC Films. It also is seeking to hire a more established director on The Flash (2018) after parting ways with screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith, who initially was attached to make his directorial debut with the project.
Roven, an experienced producer whose career dates back to the 1980s, has a producer credit on the three Batman movies directed by Christopher Nolan and 2013’s Man of Steel. He also is a producer on Suicide Squad, which Warners hopes will re-energize its DC movies when it opens in August, Wonder Woman, which will be released in June 2017, and Justice League, scheduled for November 2017.
Roven has established himself as a savvy player who knows how to manage the armies it takes to make modern, big-budget, visual effects-heavy tentpoles. But he was part of the unofficial brain trust with Snyder on the DC movies, an approach Warners seems to be rethinking in the wake of BvS’s less than stellar performance.
One reason for the shift in thinking is that Warners wants to ramp up the number of DC productions, and sources say it would be physically impossible for one man to handle pre-, post- and production on multiple movies in countries and cities ranging from Australia to Los Angeles to Louisiana to London.
Roven was slated to be a producer on Flash and Aquaman, two DC films that have yet to go into production and could end up shooting on opposite ends of the planet. Sources tell THR he will no longer serve in that capacity on those films.
Roven remains on set for Justice League: Part 1, currently shooting in London, although Warners now has sent Berg to also oversee the day-to-day production of that movie.