While Warner Bros. may be ruffling feathers throughout Hollywood by releasing its entire 2021 slate of movies on HBO Max day-and-date with those films’ theatrical release, the studio will be getting back to a major theatrical releases in 2022 in a big way: with potentially four new DC superhero movies.
In a new report in the New York Times about DC Films executive Walter Hamada, it’s revealed that Warner Bros. plans to release up to four DC movies in theaters a year starting in 2022. The report discusses the 2021 HBO Max strategy and stresses that the studio’s most expensive superhero movies are being saved for big theatrical releases, but that doesn’t mean they’re abandoning HBO Max entirely. The goal is to also release two DC movies directly to HBO Max per year, with the NY Times speculating these might be focused on “riskier” characters.
Indeed, HBO Max remains a central component of Warner Bros.’ DC plans going forward. DC Films will work with filmmakers to develop spinoffs of their films to debut on the newly launched (and WarnerMedia-owned) streaming service. Already Matt Reeves is developing a The Batman spinoff revolving around the Gotham P.D. and James Gunn is in pre-production on Peacemaker, an HBO Max spinoff of John Cena’s character from Gunn’s upcoming DC film The Suicide Squad.
Integration is the name of the game, but it’s nice to know that Warner Bros. is earmarking theatrical releases for its biggest films – as was originally planned for this year’s Wonder Woman 1984.
As for which DC movies will be released in 2022, The Batman is slated for release in March of that year, The Flash is set to (finally) premiere in November, and Aquaman 2 is planned to arrive in December. What could that fourth movie be? Shazam! 2 is currently set to be released in June 2023, but I imagine Warner Bros. is waiting to see how quickly production can ramp up on Flash, Aquaman 2, Shazam! 2, and Black Adam to see if they want to shuffle their 2022 calendar around a bit. The Dwayne Johnson-fronted Black Adam was originally supposed to start filming this summer but was interrupted by COVID, and is now eyeing a Q1 2021 production start.
Beyond that, Warner Bros. has a backlog of DC movies in various stages of development like Ava DuVernay’s New Gods and an Aquaman spinoff called The Trench. But of course, they’ve gotta put one foot in front of the other first and avoid the mistakes they made in the past — rushing to Justice League is how we got into this mess in the first place.
One thing’s for sure, though. Hamada and Warner Bros. seem keen on relaying to the public that when big DC movies return in 2022, they’ll do so on the big screen.