DC Layoffs Were Reportedly Due To Justice League Bombing

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Last night, the story emerged that 3% of DC’s workforce, along with 10% of staff at Warner Bros. Consumer Products, was being laid off, and according to comic book artist Ethan Van Sciver, the commercial failure of 2017’s Justice League has a lot to do with these cuts.

The Green Lantern illustrator released a video on YouTube in which he offered his perspective on the recent difficulties faced by DC, tracing the company’s ongoing problems back to Justice League and the difficulties that unfolded behind the scenes:

“Why is this happening? It’s happening because of the Justice League movie. That’s what it is. The Justice League movie was a catastrophic disaster for Warner Bros and for DC, for the DCEU. What happened was, it was underway with a $350 million budget under Zack Snyder. Zack Snyder had a family crisis, and some of you know what that is, and it is completely understandable that he exited from the movie and couldn’t finish it. The movie still needed to be completed.”

Van Sciver alleges that Joss Whedon’s reshoots proved enormously expensive, as the filmmaker believed that the movie was in need of some major alterations:

“Decisions were made to have Joss Whedon come in and finish the movie. Joss Whedon didn’t like what he saw, apparently, and asked for close to $300 million from what I’ve heard. If you have better information about this, let me known, but he basically asked for an enormous, almost equal to the original production budget to reshoot and to finish Justice League. The Zack Snyder movie. [Whedon] made it into something else. The movie was a catastrophe. And it was an expensive catastrophe. It lost an awful lot of money.”

The artist goes on to recall how the lackluster box office performance of Justice League impacted the company, prompting the departure of DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson, among others:

“You have to imagine what spending close to $700 million on a movie and losing hundreds of millions of dollars on a movie can do to people, can do to their jobs. Shortly after, Diane [Nelson] took a break. Diane never came back. She announced she was staying gone. Geoff Johns, I think, also took some of the blame for the Justice League movie, and he lost his position there. Others at DC have who were involved with the Justice League movie also lost their jobs, lost their positions. The effects are still rippling.”

Van Sciver then explains how the comic book branch of the brand was affected, claiming that the impact is still being felt to this day:

“All of this is terrible because the comic books don’t make money. The comic books are a loss-leader for Warner Bros. and DC, but certainly, these characters in film and video games should be a cash cow. For a movie that was supposed to launch a million other movies, to actually become a box office failure, it was absolutely devastating. I think DC Comics is still reeling from that.”

There’s usually more than one narrative that can be applied to a situation like this, but regardless, it’s been clear for a while now that the box office failure of Justice League has prompted a lot of changes over at Warner and DC, with various projects being put on hold while others are announced in their place. Just earlier this month, Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich mentioned that the studios is now “far less focused on a shared universe” for the franchise, choosing instead to invest in standalone movies. And given the recent box office success of Aquaman, the change in approach might well be for the best.

But while the cinematic universe is currently in a much better place commercially than it was this time last year, it sounds like DC and Warner are still suffering the consequences of Justice League’s performance.

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