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To make DCEU more ‘Marvel-like’, Warner Bros. new owners plan overhaul

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A recent report has revealed that the new owners of all DC Entertainment are exploring an overhaul, obviously to see it better compete with rivals Marvel.

By Justina Terhember

It’s a week since Discovery closed its $43 billion deal for WarnerMedia, joining one of the largest producers of reality programming with one of the most venerable entertainment brands under the new moniker of Warner Bros. Discovery. A report on Variety revealed that new overall CEO David Zaslav and top leadership have been toying with the idea of turning DC into its own solidified content vertical, according to sources. You know, so it can be more ‘Marvel-like’, wink-wink.

The move would potentially affect DC feature film development in the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, streaming series at Warner Bros. Television, and the creative arm within DC proper — all in an effort to have the disparate elements more closely aligned in order to maximize the value of the superhero stable — one often seen as punching up against Marvel.

Before the merger closed, Zaslav vetted candidates with experience in creating and nurturing blockbuster intellectual property with a goal of potentially finding someone to serve as a creative and strategic czar similar to what Marvel has in Kevin Feige.

Before the merger closed, Zaslav vetted candidates with experience in creating and nurturing blockbuster intellectual property with a goal of potentially finding someone to serve as a creative and strategic czar similar to what Marvel has in Kevin Feige. One of those candidates included Emma Watts, a former top film executive at 20th Century Studios and Paramount, but it does not appear that Watts will take the job. One insider suggested that Zaslav was less interested in finding a creative guru and more eager to hire someone who had the type of business background needed to keep all the different factions at DC working more harmoniously.

Insiders say that Zaslav believes that the success of the merger, one that has left the company highly leveraged, will rest in no small part on unlocking the full potential of the DC Comics universe of characters.

Insiders say that Zaslav believes that the success of the merger, one that has left the company highly leveraged, will rest in no small part on unlocking the full potential of the DC Comics universe of characters. Discovery insiders believe that although DC has achieved cinematic success with recent films such as “Aquaman” and “The Batman,” it lacks a coherent creative and brand strategy. Discovery believes that several top-shelf characters such as Superman have been left to languish and need to be revitalized. They also believe that projects like Todd Phillips’ “Joker” are a shining example of how second-billed characters from the DC library can and should be exploited (Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is another example).

DC has started to figure out ways for its big-screen films to inspire more streaming content — recent examples include the HBO Max show “Peacemaker,” which was a spinoff of “The Suicide Squad,” as well as an upcoming planned series on Colin Farrell’s The Penguin and Gotham City’s police force. But the company believes that DC must do more to grow its approach to comic book fare, including bolstering gaming. Under Walter Hamada, who took over DC Films from Jon Berg and Geoff Johns in 2018, the unit has achieved more consistency in terms of both the critical and commercial reception of the company’s movies. He is under contract until the end of 2023 and could play an important role in whatever Zaslav has planned.

Zaslav has pledged to find $3 billion in synergies in the newly merged company, a signal of how important cost-cutting will be to Warners’ new owners. Mining DC’s library of characters could help control spending as Warner Bros. Discovery owns the underlying intellectual property, insiders say.

Zaslav has pledged to find $3 billion in synergies in the newly merged company, a signal of how important cost-cutting will be to Warners’ new owners. Mining DC’s library of characters could help control spending as Warner Bros. Discovery owns the underlying intellectual property, insiders say.

Upcoming DC Films projects include a sequel to Zachary Levi’s “Shazam,” a sequel to Jason Momoa’s “Aquaman,” the long-awaited franchise started “Black Adam” with Dwayne Johnson, and the third installment of Gal Gadot’s “Wonder Woman.”

Good luck to them!

MOVIES

Amber Heard says ‘Aquaman 2’ role got cut, action scenes ‘taken away’

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Amber Heard claims that Warner Bros. “didn’t want to include me” in the upcoming ‘Aquaman’ sequel due to the fallout of her divorce from Johnny Depp. The actor said during her defamation trial against Depp that she was “actively scheduling timing for filming” the second ‘Aquaman’ movie until Depp’s team called her a liar regarding her abuse claims against Depp. Heard said that “communications” about the sequel “stopped at that point.”

Heard stars as Mera in several comic book films from Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment. She debuted as the character in ‘Justice League’ in what she called “a three-picture option.” The second film was ‘Aquaman’, in which she had a more co-lead role opposite Jason Momoa and for which she earned $1 million. Heard said she earned twice as much for ‘Aquaman 2’, the third film in her contract, but also said that he role in the film was “a very pared-down version.”

“I was given a script and then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it, that depicted my character and another character, without giving any spoilers away, two characters fighting with one another, and they basically took a bunch out of my role,” Heard said. “They just removed a bunch out.”

Reports surfaced earlier this year that Head only appears in about 10 minutes of the sequel, which is officially titled ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’. James Wan returns to the direct the film after earning solid reviews for 2018’s ‘Aquaman’, which earned over $1 billion worldwide. Joining Momoa and Heard in the sequel are Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison and Nicole Kidman.

‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ is scheduled to be released on March 17, 2023.

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First trailer for ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel drops

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After 13 years and numerous delays, 20th Century Studios has finally released a glimpse into James Cameron’s ‘Avatar 2’, due Dec. 16. This marks the long-awaited sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time. The sequel’s official title is ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’. See video below:

After being re-released last year in China, the first ‘Avatar’ overtook ‘Avengers: Endgame’ as the most lucrative film of all time (according to ticket sales) when its revenue surpassed $2.8 billion globally. Its original run in the United States was unprecedented, with the film thriving in theaters for over 10 months.

The second ‘Avatar’ is set to star many of the original film’s cast members, including Zoe Saldana as Neytiri, Sigourney Weaver in a new role and Sam Worthington as Jake Sully. Joining the cast are Kate Winslet as Ronal, Michelle Yeoh as Dr. Karina Mogue and Oona Chaplin as Varang, among others. The new film picks up where the last left off, with Sully and Neytiri building their family on the planet of Pandora and fighting new threats to its burgeoning civilization.

‘Avatar 2’ is scheduled for release on Dec. 16. Cameron initially said he was aiming for a 2014 release, which was pushed back seven times until its current date later this year. Shooting for the film wrapped back in 2020 in tandem with ‘Avatar 3’, which is set for a 2024 release. Cameron said he combined the filming process for the first two sequels, plus “a little bit of ‘4.’”

“We mixed the schedules for ‘2’ and ‘3’ together, based on the types of scenes and the environments,” Cameron said. “I said, let’s just treat it like it’s a six-hour miniseries and we’re only going to go to Frankfurt once. We’re going to shoot all the scenes from ‘2’ and ‘3’ at the same time. That was more or less the motif.”

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REVIEW: Doctor Strange sequel proves to be a crazy romp in ‘Multiverse of Madness’

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With hints of horror in its DNA and pure superhero craziness, the return of Benedict Cumberbatch and co. – new characters in tow – is weirdly fun and cumbersome at the same time. But mostly fun, as our reviewer opines.

By Abdukareem Baba Aminu

It’s stating the obvious that ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ has a lot resting on its shoulders. After all, it is coming after the highly successful ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’, the last Marvel movie wherein the titular sorcerer had a major role. That movie, starring Tom Holland and Zendaya, went on to gross well over $1.8 billion, becoming the sixth-highest grossing movie of all time. Set in several universes at once – and regularly ricocheting into deeper and more spiraling dimensions of alternate realities – the plot for Dr. Stephen Strange’s second solo film begins with fully-formed chaos.

It opens with America Chavez and an alternate version of Dr. Stephen Strange fleeing through the space between universes to find the Book of Vishanti to stop a demon chasing them. Strange is killed, and Chavez accidentally creates a portal that sucks them all in. Meanwhile, on our Earth, Strange is at the wedding of his ex-fiancé, where a tentacle monster wreaks havoc chasing Chavez, but Strange saves Chavez and kills the demon with help from Sorcerer Supreme Wong. Chavez explains that the demons are hunting her because she has the power to travel through the Multiverse, and it is at that exact point it becomes clear that this will be a crazy romp of a movie.

There is a lot at stake in the film, and at the same time, there isn’t much, as it’s leaning heavily into the whole Multiverse shtick, which makes long-lasting consequences spare and far between.

Strange finds traces of witchcraft on the demon and alternate-reality Strange’s corpse, and he consults Wanda Maximoff, finding out secrets that send the story spiraling into the dark story it becomes. There is a lot at stake in the film, and at the same time, there isn’t much, as it’s leaning heavily into the whole Multiverse shtick, which makes long-lasting consequences spare and far between. Like when a major character is in danger and you know somehow that the whole alternate reality situation will ensure he or she comes out unscathed. But if that sounds like a complaint, forgive me, it’s not: Because that’s where some of the biggest, sweetest goodies in this film lurk.

After a ton of magical battles pitting sorcery against witchcraft and giving us some really heartfelt performances from a notable Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda, we (and Strange) end up in the courtyard of this reality’s version of the Illuminati, which in the comics is a collective of some of the most powerful and brilliant characters in the Marvel universe. The theatre I watched the movie in exploded in cheers at this point, as member after member of the shadowy super-group was introduced. It goes without saying that some of the surprise appearances are truly jaw-dropping.

This movie is probably the most important one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU to hardcore fans) since ‘Avengers: Endgame’, continuing the shared continuity’s foray into an exploration of parallel universes. Theoretically, this should make it even more compelling and fun, but I found myself exhausted at the end, even when what’s played out is saying I should be satisfied. Don’t get me wrong: It’s a very engrossing movie, but one which presents the irony of being interesting and at the same time feeling like a walk through 10-inch snowfall. Or mud, depending on where your geographical idioms rest.

(Continued after break/poster)

It’s a very engrossing movie, but one which presents the irony of being interesting and at the same time feeling like a walk through 10-inch snowfall. Or mud, depending on where your geographical idioms rest.

Of course, there will be stellar performances galore, led by the perfectly-cast and always on-point Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong as stoic Sorcerer Supreme Wong, and brilliantly precocious Multiverse-hopping teen America Chavez played by equally brilliant Xochitl Gomez. Elizabeth Olsen, too, shines as she does in all her MCU appearances, giving layers and nuance to the tragically heartbroken (or just broken) character of Wanda Maximoff, whose spiral into all shades of darkness needs to be seen. After all, she’s had enough revving time in the absolutely perfect Disney+ series ‘WandaVision’.

We are, as the movie title posits, treated to a variety of alternate universes, some of which will have you cheering. But by the end of the film, all two hours-plus of it, you will find yourself wanting more. Almost like wanting a whole meal for a snack after a full dinner. But I forgive director Sam Raimi since he is making his first movie in nine years. Only he could cook up a gloriously inventive fight scene fought with literal musical notes. And yet I couldn’t help but feel there’s an ‘anything-goes-ness’ to all of it, similar to his over-the-top campy offerings of the past like the ‘Evil Dead’ films, or ‘Drag Me to Hell’.

But I forgive director Sam Raimi since he is making his first movie in nine years. Only he could cook up a gloriously inventive fight scene fought with literal musical notes.

With all its contradictions, however, ‘Multiverse of Madness’ proves itself a continuation of MCU tradition, that which satisfies long-waiting fans with a strangely satisfying ending, prompts multiple viewings and inspires speculation about the future direction of the franchise. This is more so, after the Illuminati encounter, and at the end of the movie in a mid-credits scene, when a major character in the Dr. Strange comics makes her debut, played by a surprising actress. It was a genuine surprise, really, as much as it was a pleasant one that holds strong promise. So strong that it warrants repeated viewings to take it all in. Nothing strange about that.

‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is showing now in cinemas.

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