Warner Bros. is betting big on franchises, announcing an ambitious slate of movies based on DC Comics, LEGO and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spinoff that will carry the studio through 2020.
The announcement was made by WB chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara, who also said the studio would cut costs by $200 million a year — a move that will include layoffs. Those savings will help fund the studio’s planned film and television slates.
On the animated front is the LEGO property, which will kick off with 2016’s LEGO Ninjago, directed by Charlie Bean; followed by The LEGO Batman Movie in 2017 with Chris McKay directing; and The LEGO Movie 2 in 2018.
At least 9 live-action DC Comics movies are in the works, starting with a Suicide Squad film set for 2016, followed by Wonder Woman and Justice League, Part One in 2017, The Flash and Aquaman films in 2018, Shazam! and Justice League, Part Two in 2019 and Green Lantern and Cyborg films in 2020. Solo films for Superman and Batman also are in the works but undated so far.
The studio revealed Zack Snyder will direct both Justice League films, and David Ayer will helm Suicide Squad. Casting also was set, with Gal Gadot to star as Wonder Woman, following up on her debut as the character in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice; Erza Miller to play The Flash; Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa as Aquaman; Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Black Adam in Shazam!; and Ray Fisher set as Cyborg. Actors Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck and Amy Adams are set to return in the Justice League films as Superman, Batman and Lois Lane, respectively. The studio also expects to cast four “A-list” performers in Suicide Squad.
The Potter spinoff, titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will be adapted into three movies, set for 2016, 2018 and 2020. The first has Potter pro David Yates directing and author Rowling making her screenwriting debut.