Director James Gunn, Peter Safran to co-direct DC Studios

The New Heads of DC Studios

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James Gunn and producer Peter Safran have been appointed as co-Chairmen and CEOs of the television, animation, and film departments at DC Studios, a newly formed division at Warner Bros.

The change of management will be led by two well-known filmmakers – James Gunn, who will oversee the film division, and Pete Safran, who will manage the TV, and animation departments. This news comes after Walter Hamada Discover, the previous head of DC Films, left the company.

“We’re honored to be the stewards of these DC characters we’ve loved since we were children,” said Gunn and Safran in a written statement. “Our commitment to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Harley Quinn, and the rest of the DC stable of characters is only equaled by our commitment to the wonder of human possibility these characters represent. We’re excited to invigorate the theatrical experience around the world as we tell some of the biggest, most beautiful, and grandest stories ever told.”

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The pair would have to report directly to Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and will maintain frequent touch with Warner Bros Film Group Co-Chairs and CEOs Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy. Gunn and Safran duties at DC Studios include creating the long-term strategy for the films, television and animated projects that will be related to the DC comics. The directors will continue to develop their own projects and will report to the heads of the DC film division, including Toby Emmerich, Jon Berg, Walter Hamada, and Geoff Johns, as well as to the co-chairmen and co-CEOs of the studio, namely, the film producer and executive, Kevin Tsujihara, and the entertainment lawyer, Alan Horn. However, it, unfortunately, seems that Gunn will not return as a potential Marvel filmmaker.

De Luca and Abdy said in a statement: “We could not be more excited to have James Gunn and Peter Safran join the team and assume the leadership of the DC Universe. James is a brilliant filmmaker and storyteller and Peter is a tremendously successful and prolific producer and to have them both committing to work together to forge this new era for DC is a literal dream come true. We all share a very similar sensibility and passion for this universe and the stars couldn’t have aligned any better. We can’t wait to get started, dig in, and collaborate with these creative minds.”  

Prior to the announcement of DC Studios, Gunn and Safran could be seen discussing upcoming projects with Warner Bros film co-chair Michael De Luca on the Warner Bros set. Meanwhile, according to insiders at the Hollywood Reporter, the studio was already in talks with producer Dan Lin to assume the role when De Luca made the initial approach to Safran and Gunn.

Both of these industry veterans have their own repertoire, making them excitable additions to DC. Safran has produced numerous films for Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema that extend 10 years, including Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, Shazam,” as well as the $1 billion-grossing Aquaman” and its upcoming sequel. Horror enthusiasts may know Saffron from the films he worked on in the acclaimed “Conjuring” universe.

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Gunn initially found success with the two major studios in the genre: Disney’s Marvel Studios and WB’s constantly changing DC division. By taking a bet on Gunn, Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige gave the director A-list prestige. As a result, the Guardians of the Galaxy soon-to-be trilogy became one of the MCU’s most successful and strange franchises. His DC debut, The Suicide Squad, received glowing reviews and gave rise to the popular HBO spinoff Peacemaker, starring John Cena. A second season is currently being worked on by Gunn.

“Their decades of experience in filmmaking, close ties to the creative community, and proven track record thrilling superhero fans around the globe make them uniquely qualified to develop a long-term strategy across film, TV, and animation and take this iconic franchise to the next level of creative storytelling,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in a statement.

According to a statement from The Hollywood Reporter, Peter Safran will focus on the business and production aspects of DC Studios, while James Gunn will focus on the creative side. This should make for an interesting partnership given Gunn’s strong and generally underappreciated storytelling skills, which have produced gems like The Suicide Squad (2021), which itself is personally one of the most entertaining and creative superhero projects in recent years.

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The contract is reportedly set for four years, and Gunn will work exclusively for DC. The objective is for them to perform the duties of executives rather than just being producers (Although they might pitch in now and then), and on November 1st, they will formally begin their positions at DC Studios. This change came from Zaslav’s pledge to reform the studio’s DC operations in order to create a more Marvel-like 10-year structure, boost quality, and bring in a more centralized creative chief, similar to Marvel’s renowned Kevin Feige.

This is a major deal for the DC hierarchy and may radically change the company’s future. Based on the two directors’ past super-hero centric films, long-time fans are keeping an enthusiastic eye on how these unmatched creative minds will expand the DC Universe with the newly formed DC Studios.

Brendan Frye
Brendan Frye

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