In a surprising shake-up, Warner Bros. has promoted Walter Hamada to be the head of all of their upcoming comic book movies. This mostly notably includes the DC Extended Universe, but may also include other films, whether for DC Comics properties or otherwise.
Previously Hamada was a writer and producer for New Line Cinema, one of Warner Bros.’s many subsidiaries. Most recently he has worked on such successful horror movies as It and The Conjuring.
Hamada’s promotion seems to be part of a restructuring done in response to the underwhelming critical and commercial performance of most DCEU films, most particularly Justice League, which came out in November. Meant to be an epic team-up film like The Avengers was for the rival Marvel Cinematic Universe, it instead proved the least successful movie in the franchise, barely making back its huge $300 million budget.
During the last restructuring, comic book writer Geoff Johns and production chief John Berg were put in charge of directing the DCEU. Berg recently stepped down, however, and while Johns remains as president and chief creative officer for DC Comics, his film job will now be confined mostly to advising Hamada.
He does not seem particularly upset about this, however, instead taking the time to welcome his new boss on his Twitter account.
“Welcome aboard, Walter!!” Johns wrote. “Thrilled to be working with you! It’s been a blast on Shazam! — now it’s off to the rest of the DCU! (And get a twitter account!)”
While Johns is popular among comic book readers, he did not do much to resolve the DCEU’s failures; some argue that he is just not experienced enough with movies to handle the sprawling continuity that Warner Bros. is trying to make. Hamada, being a filmmaker by trade, will hopefully be more capable, and his success with other films is certainly encouraging.
Johns’ tweet implies that Hamada has already had some kind of involvement in the upcoming Shazam film, which has recently begun pre-production in Toronto. This is interesting because its director, David F. Sandberg, directed Annabelle: Creation, a spin-off of The Conjuring, which Hamada produced; meanwhile, The Conjuring’s own director, James Wan, is currently working on post-production for the next DCEU film, Aquaman, which is due out later this year.