New Line’s Walter Hamada to oversee DC film slate for Warners
After the box office disappointment of Justice League, it was announced that Warner Bros. had begun restructuring their DC Films division by shifting previous point man Jon Berg out. Now, according to Heat Vision, Warners’ new choice to take the reigns of the DC brand is New Line executive Walter Hamada, who helped shepherd IT as well as The Conjuring universe, and is a close confidante of Aquaman director James Wan.
“Walter is creative, resourceful, and committed to excellence, and will bring those qualities to his oversight of our superhero films,” said Warner’s president and chief content officer Toby Emmerich. “He’s a terrific production executive and served as an executive producer on two of the summer’s most popular films, New Line’s ‘It’ and ‘Annabelle: Creation.’ I’m confident Walter and Geoff, working with our filmmaking partners, will deliver films that will resonate with both broad global audiences as well as DC fanboys and fangirls. Walter’s a great addition to the Warner Bros. Pictures team, and I look forward to working with him in his new post.”
Hamada will continue to work alongside DC CCO Geoff Johns, an acclaimed comics writer in his own right whose expertise with the brand is still valued at the studio. Johns also has story credit on the in-development Wonder Woman 2 and Green Lantern Corps. Hamada’s ascension marks yet another chapter in the ever-shifting struggle to find an overall guardian of the DC brand, similar to the way Kevin Feige has consistently overseen all the Marvel Studios pictures. Early on in the development of the DC Extended Universe, the studio hoped to cajole Christopher Nolan to oversee its entire superhero slate after his success with The Dark Knight trilogy, but Nolan opted to only produce Man of Steel. After that it shifted control to any number of creatives and non-creatives involved in the growing franchise, at first hoping comics fan and screenwriter David Goyer would take the lead, then shifting control to director Zack Snyder and his producer wife Deborah Snyder, with additional oversight by Dark Knight producer Charles Roven. After the critical calamity that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warners ceded control over to Jon Berg and Geoff Johns, whose fingerprints were most heavily felt in the production of Justice League, where a creative tug-of-war was evident in the jarring tonal differences between the work of Zack Snyder and replacement director Joss Whedon.
As president of all DC-based film production, Hamada will inherit the DCEU during a crucial transition period where only one film, Wan’s Aquaman, will see release in the calendar year on December 21, 2018. That will give the new team a chance to reassess a series of films that the previous regime had developed, including Flashpoint (possibly directed by Robert Zemeckis), Man of Steel 2 (potentially helmed by Matthew Vaughn), Green Lantern Corps (written by Goyer), Suicide Squad 2 (written and directed by Gavin O’Connor) and Batgirl (written and directed by Joss Whedon). There’s also director Matt Reeves’ upcoming Batman solo film, which may or may not be connected to the DCEU and is likely not to feature Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader. There are also several Joker-related properties in development, including a stand-alone ’80s gangster film from director Todd Phillips and producer Martin Scorsese, as well as a Joker and Harley Quinn romance movie that would feature Jared Leto and Margot Robbie. Hamada will also oversee two already-greenlit films in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 2 and David F. Sandberg’s Shazam, the latter of which is the lone movie still under New Line. A few years ago Warners shifted all their Vertigo Comics properties (Sandman, etc) over to New Line, but now those will also be under the purview of Hamada.
Hamada has an excellent track record, particularly in the horror genre, where he carefully (and successfully) built a billion dollar-grossing Conjuring universe one film at a time. He’s also served as a screenwriter and executive producer on the fantasy action film 47 Ronin, one of the costliest failures of 2013. No matter what direction he takes with the DC Comics brand, fans are surely hoping he can right the ship before it’s too late.
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