David Zaslav Admits Warner Bros. Movies Are Underperforming As He Hypes Up James Gunn’s ‘Superman: Legacy’

Can Superman: Legacy save the DC Universe?

David Zaslav Warner Bros Discovery Superman Legacy

During Warner Bros. Discovery’s recent earnings call, CEO David Zaslav shared insights into the studio’s performance, acknowledging the highs and lows of WB’s 2023 slate.

Zaslav admitted that while the studio has seen success with titles like the Margot Robbie movie Barbie, there have been notable disappointments like The Color Purple and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. He specifically pointed out the underperformance at the end of the year, marking it as a period of struggle. Despite these setbacks, Zaslav remains optimistic, seeing potential for significant improvement in the coming years.

“Our commitment to the motion picture business is something that’s there’s a real sense of in the town, and it’s one of the reasons why we’re getting some of the very best people coming on board with us,. I’m pretty excited about what we have this year and what you’ll see pulling out in the year ahead. Bottom line, the studio has really been underperforming, including the end of the year where we had some real struggle, but we’re very optimistic about this year and it has given us a chance to have a lot of upside in the next two years. I mean, it was really a struggle.”

David Zaslav hypes up the DC Universe reboot as Superman: Legacy prepares to begin filming

The Color Purple managed to gross only $68 million against an estimated production budget of $100 million, while Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom sequel brought in $433 million worldwide, a stark contrast to the first film’s $1.152 billion haul. However, Zaslav is looking ahead, focusing on the strength and potential of WB’s franchise portfolio.

“A real strategic advantage we have as a company, and I’ve talked about it often, is the strength and depth of our franchises, which I believe will be a meaningful driver of asset value and growth for us. We intend to deliver on our commitment to reinvigorate the best of them. And as I’ve said, major franchises have been underused and underleveraged. We are hard at work to begin to get full value.”

Highlighting 2025’s Superman: Legacy as a cornerstone of WB’s future, Zaslav shared his excitement for the reboot, which marks a new chapter for the DC universe. Written and directed by James Gunn, who, along with Peter Safran, is steering the DC Studios slate, the film represents a fresh start for the iconic superhero.

“We haven’t made a ‘Superman’ movie in over a decade. James Gunn’s ‘Superman’ starts filming next week. I’ve had a glimpse into what James and Peter are doing, and it really does serve as an exciting indicator of where the new DC is headed under their leadership.”

Gunnar Wiedenfels, Warner Bros. Discovery’s CFO, echoed Zaslav’s sentiments, acknowledging Hollywood’s hit-driven nature. He referenced the mixed results of 2023, including the phenomenon of “superhero fatigue,” which affected not only Warner Bros. but also its competitors, as seen with Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and The Marvels.

Rick Lemoine

Rick Lemoine

Raised on a hearty dose of Marvel and DC comics, Rick combines his love for superheroes with a knack for writing about Hollywood's brightest.