Warner Bros. shakes up DC leadership after 'Justice League' falls short at box office

The Warner Bros. film executive in charge of production on the studio’s DC superhero films is stepping down after the disappointment of the big-budget movie “Justice League,” according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to comment.

The change represents the latest shake-up related to the blockbuster franchise that has struggled to earn critical praise and meet its box-office potential.

Jon Berg, co-president of production at Warner Bros. Pictures, will leave his post at the studio to become a producer with filmmaker Roy Lee, who has produced successful movies for the studio including “It” and “The Lego Movie.” Berg, who ran point on DC movies and was credited as a producer on “Justice League,” has been an executive at the studio for about a decade. Toby Emmerich, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said it was Berg’s decision to step down.

“This is something that Jon approached me about six months ago, and he expressed his goal was to ultimately be a producer at the studio,” Emmerich said in a statement. “We’re thrilled that Jon is partnering with Roy and anticipate their company being a valuable source of movies for Warner Bros. and New Line.”

Emmerich, the former head of New Line Cinema, a year ago replaced Greg Silverman to improve the performance of Warner’s movie studio.

The latest change, first reported by Variety, is expected to take effect early next year. No replacement has been named.

Warner Bros. in May 2016 named Berg to lead the newly created label DC Films with DC Entertainment chief creative officer Geoff Johns in a move meant to improve the company’s superhero films after “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” took a critical drubbing.

Aside from this year’s global hit “Wonder Woman,” which collected more than $820 million in global ticket sales, most of the films have been panned by critics.

The DC movies are one of the key pillars of the Time Warner Inc.-owned studio’s film strategy to compete with Walt Disney Co. and its Marvel Studios subsidiary.

Recent DC movies, including “Man of Steel,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad,” have suffered unfavorable comparisons to their Marvel counterparts. Critics have pilloried them for their dark and gloomy tones.

“Justice League” has underperformed at the box office, grossing $572 million worldwide since its release in mid-November. The film, starring Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot, cost an estimated $300 million to produce.

“Avengers” writer-director Joss Whedon oversaw significant reshoots on “Justice League” after director Zack Snyder had to step back from the project because of a family tragedy.

“Justice League” was meant to help launch future DC comic-book movies based on slightly more obscure characters. The next live-action superhero movie for Warner Bros. is “Aquaman,” which is directed by James Wan and is scheduled for a December 2018 release.

ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

@rfaughnder


UPDATES:

3:30 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details on the shake-up.

This article was originally published at 2:50 p.m.

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