Many industry insiders are predicting that Warner Bros. will start avoiding auteur directors in favor of cheaper directors who can’t demand final cut. These predictions stem from the announcement that New Line’s Toby Emmerich would become Warner Bros. new president, which was made late last year. Insiders told the Hollywood Reporter that many have been watching closely to see what changes that Emmerich will attempt under his new position. Many insiders are concerned that Emmerich will “New Line-ization” Warner Bros., in other words, slash costs wherever possible and avoid auteur directors altogether.
Toby Emmerich ran Warner Bros.’ New Line label for over 8 years, overseeing The Conjuring and We’re the Millers, which were moderately budgeted projects that became hits. It has been said that Emmerich has “a real strong loyalty to New Line,” which is understandable. It is also understandable for a studio to try and cut costs wherever they can to maximize profits. But since he has such a strong loyalty to New Line many are wondering if he will be moving a lot of movies down to New Line, which might not necessarily be a negative thing. It has been reported that Emmerich is looking to possibly move away from franchises to find a way to make cheaper movies that generate more profits.
Warner Bros. has seen its fair share of bombs lately, most notably Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword, which was estimated to be at least a moderate success and maybe go on to an extended universe. Another recent failure was Ben Affleck’s Live by Night. The critical and box office failure of that project may have actually lead to Affleck being removed as director of The Batman, but that is pure speculation at this point because it was made to look as if Affleck walked away from the director’s chair to focus on acting.
Whether any of Emmerich’s reported plans will come into fruition is not clear at this time, but the news comes at an interesting time for the relationships between studio brass and directors. The recent news of Chris Miller and Phil Lord being fired from Disney and Lucasfilm’s untitled Han Solo movie for apparent creative differences, leading many to believe that directors aren’t allowed much creative freedom while working for Lucasfilm. Edgar Wright recently spoke out about being a director for hire on Marvel’s Ant-Man and ultimately leaving that project because Marvel didn’t want an “Edgar Wright” movie. Wright also took the sides of Miller and Lord, speaking from personal experience from his time working with Marvel.
An interesting piece of information from the so-called studio insiders is that apparently Warner Bros. still intends to give final cut to Christopher Nolan and Clint Eastwood. Also Harry Potter, LEGO, and the DCEU would remain intact, which kind of goes against what has been speculating. Maybe Emmerich is just going for a more cautious plan of attack instead of green lighting just about everything without considerable research. Emmerich’s first green light is rumored to be The Goldflinch, which is based off of a novel by Donna Tart, with John Crowley set to direct, so we’ll have to wait and see what he does with his new position.