Warner Bros with its scandals — from Ezra Miller, Ellen DeGeneres, Ray Fisher to WarnerMedia’s restructuring — is in the eye of a brewing storm
The stars aren’t shining so bright for Warner Bros. While Robert Pattinson’s contracting COVID right after resuming The Batman production in the UK is a warning sign for Hollywood. The pandemic hit corporate health of WarnerMedia is further affected by rising controversies in the past months.
WB has many controversies to address this year, especially surrounding their biggest actors and directors. Those include abuse allegations against Joss Whedon, Amber Heard’s separation and JK Rowling’s transphobia. Furthermore, they have to find a resolution to the biggest controversy, one that stained DC FanDome – Flash actor Ezra Miller violently throwing a fan to the ground on video.
Watch: Ezra Miller Under Fire For Choking A Woman | E! News
Meanwhile, WB decisively distracted the audience from these controversies with its superhero Multiverse gala DC FanDome event. The first of its kind virtual event got 22 million views in 24 hours. The sequel to this distraction DC FanDome event will be aired this Saturday.
For the uninitiated, WarnerMedia (originally TimeWarner) is comprised of HBO, Turner and Warner Brothers. Together the three business units create content in various mediums ranging from animation, comics, live-action, TV shows and streaming services. In 2018, TimeWarner was acquired by AT&T and became WarnerMedia. Further, since the acquisition, fans have been disappointed with WB content. However, TV shows like The Flash, Supergirl, Dooms Patrol among others created a buzz. The superhero movie business was on a decline.
Ray Fisher’s Accusation against Director Joss Whedon Of Abuse
The prime example of this has been director Zack Snyder’s Justice League disaster. Choking of creativity under corporate pressure resulted in a mutiny instead of what could be a superhero live-action movie legend. However, fans demanded to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut and in 2020 corporate structures finally obliged. How times have changed! What didn’t, however, is the backlog of bad decisions the company made.
So back in May when Zack Snyder announced his Justice League Cut for HBO Max, WB’s new streaming platform, it was seen as the end of troubled waters. Alas, it was just the start. In July, actor Ray Fisher who played Cyborg accused director Joss Whedon of abuse on set. He further claimed that the abusive behavior was enabled by studio big wigs. Fisher tweeted, “He (Whedon) was enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg. Accountability>Entertainment.”
After public outrage and fans coming in support of Fisher, WB initiated an investigation into the matter with a third-party investigator. WB’s official response notes, “While Mr Fisher never alleged any actionable misconduct against him. WarnerMedia nonetheless initiated an investigation into the concerns he’d raised about his character’s portrayal.”
Still unsatisfied, Mr Fisher insisted that WarnerMedia hire an independent third-party investigator. While the investigation carries on with WB accusing Fisher of being a ‘no show.’ And Fisher getting back at them, the new trailer released for the Justice League at FanDome dominates the headlines.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s ‘Toxic’ Work Culture
Back in July BuzzFeed published a story where ex-employees claimed that the work culture of the Ellen DeGeneres Show was toxic. About eleven employees spoke anonymously and the allegation ranged from racism, and bullying to harassment.
62-year-old DeGeneres has had a long career. Reruns of her show keep fans engaged to major networks and prime time. Ellen’s show creates an aura of kindness and philanthropy balanced with her personal brand of charm and comedy. But in the report, employees claim that her ‘be kind’ attitude is ‘all for the show.’
At the time executive producers of the show Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner took full responsibility of the daily operations of the show.
Soon after the BuzzFeed report stirred the social media, WarnerMedia did an internal review of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. WB reportedly took the help of ‘WarnerMedia’s employee relations group and a third-party firm to conduct a workplace investigation interviewing existing employees.’ Meanwhile, Ellen issued an apology memo to her employees in a video message. She said, “glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention” and that they are “taking steps… to correct them.”
Friends of Ellen did come out in her support. While others stood by the stance the reports took, sharing their personal experiences with Ellen. To make matters worse, another article from BuzzFeed came up with employees sharing behind the scenes and on-set experiences of sexual misconduct.
Watch: “I am Sorry’ | Ellen Apology Video | Viral Vision
Last month, Warner Bros. Television announced firing of two senior producers, Ed Glavin, one of the executive producers; Jonathan Norman, a co-executive producer, and the head writer, Kevin Leman from, Ellen’s show.
As for the show’s future, WB, in an agreement with Australia’s Channel Nine, will air the new season of the Ellen’s Show.
DC‘s Unprecedented Lay-off Spree
With its focus on making profits from recently launched HBO Max streaming platform, WB underwent massive restructuring. Not caring about bad PR days ahead of the FanDome event, WB laid-off several employees, adding to the long list of controversies.
The DC Universe reportedly took the major hit of this shift followed by DC Comic and merchandising wing, DC Direct. The recent WarnerMedia restructuring is a result of WB’s shifting focus from creating legacy characters to creating franchise characters. Billion-dollar franchises with profitable characters is an approach that suits WB’s franchising and licensing goals. HBO Max’s offerings include Zack Snyder’s JL Cut and Matt Reeves’ Batman prequel for fans.
The resulting reflection of this strategy is the creation of DC’s Multiverse. Like a scientist, WB first introduced the Multiverse via Crisis On Infinite Earths series. Its popularity propelled the studio to make the shift in its cinematic universe. In a nutshell, DC embraces its entire TV, Streaming and Movie catalogue as a Multiverse, all starting with The Flash 2022. WB will re-open the doors to this Multiverse for a 24-hour glimpse on September 12 in the sequel of the DC FanDome event hoping to further bury controversies.