We Need to Talk About Warner Bros


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016): Heyday Films/Warner Bros

Warner Brothers have not had a good year at the movies. Between steadily disintegrating franchises like their relentlessly grim take on DC superheroes, villains and anti-heroes and complete non-starters like LEGEND OF TARZAN, it’s been ludicrously expensive with nowhere near enough to show for it.

Just look at the way the biggest movies Warners makes are marketed. I think SUICIDE SQUAD had one of my favourite movie trailers of all time: well-edited sonically and visually, entertaining and intriguing and showing just enough without ruining the surprise. Sadly the end product was clumsy and about as grim as the rest and every trailer for a blockbuster since has been “we can be funny like Marvel, honest!” Look at the ads for JUSTICE LEAGUE or KONG: SKULL ISLAND for evidence that they just want to be liked. They build trailers around (some admittedly good) gags, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the sole evidence of levity when the final films are released.

With their inability to effectively compete with Marvel (even by copying their formula) I wouldn’t be surprised if Warners started shifting focus onto the next best thing. After BATMAN their next most profitable franchise is easily HARRY POTTER, and wouldn’t you know it they just announced FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (a spinoff/prequel based on a glorified pamphlet) will now be five films.

We obviously don’t know yet how WONDER WOMAN or Justice League will be received, but if they turn out as terrible, over-stuffed and misjudged as BATMAN V SUPERMAN then there will have to be a Plan B. Fantastic Beasts and the exploration of the wider JK Rowling wizarding universe is Warner Bros’ backup mega franchise. Upcoming spectacle will apparently include a still uncast younger Dumbledore (has to be Jared Harris surely?) fighting Johnny Depp as dark wizard Grindelwald, which could be interesting. As long as the studio doesn’t keep mandating the release of sub-par cuts of the films to facilitate the cynical and greedy release of (just about) superior extended cuts further down the line, I don’t have much of an objection to seeing fewer miserable superheroes and more plucky wizards. SSP


About Sam Sewell-Peterson

Writer and film fanatic fond of black comedies, sci-fi, animation and films about dysfunctional families.
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