Warner Bros. has high hopes for “The Flash.”
The upcoming comic book adventure, which wrapped production in 2021 and is set to debut in theaters in 2023, has been extraordinarily well received at early test screenings, according to sources familiar with the film. Given DC Films’ inconsistent track record of commercial success, the initial reception that “The Flash” could be an audience-pleasing blockbuster is not just a relief, but a necessity for box office success.
And in a time when superhero adaptations are largely populated by straight actors, Ezra Miller, who stars in “The Flash” and is non-binary and queer, feels like a refreshingly progressive choice to headline. a great summer film for all audiences.
There’s only one glaring problem: Miller can’t seem to stay out of trouble. In recent months, the actor has been arrested or taken into custody multiple times for harassment, misconduct and traffic violations. Around the same time, two Hawaii residents filed a temporary restraining order against Miller after he allegedly broke into the couple’s bedroom and attempted to steal their passports and wallets. Although the restraining order was later dropped, their continued behavior sparked serious unease about the people they put at risk, as well as Miller’s health and well-being. The incidents took place nearly two years after footage emerged of Miller appearing to choke a woman outside a bar in Iceland. That’s not the kind of attention a studio wants for the star of a $200 million budget tentpole.
These startling events have led to speculation about Warner Bros. plans for the hopeful blockbuster, which serves as the first solo movie for Barry Allen, aka the Scarlet Speedster, aka the Flash. Would the studio really replace Miller with another actor? Will he drop the film on HBO Max in an attempt to limit the potentially negative fanfare that could come with a theatrical release? Or Warner Bros. keep the movie in theaters on June 23, 2023 as planned?
Barring unforeseen developments, sources say, Warners is moving forward with plans to give the superhero movie the full blockbuster treatment. “The Flash” simply costs too much money to drop the project altogether, and it probably won’t generate the revenue needed to turn a profit without playing in theaters. For option three to happen without triggering a major backlash, Miller would have to put on his best bet. And that’s a big question, because so far Miller has been dogged by one controversy after another, leaving cast members concerned for the actor’s well-being.
To make matters worse, news broke on Wednesday that veteran film executives Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy are replacing Toby Emmerich as president of Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group. Any change in direction at a studio puts the previous regime’s film slate in limbo; with the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslov keeping a tight grip on cost control at the company, marketing spend for a movie as big as “The Flash” remains a question.
“There are myriad directions Warner Bros. could go in,” says Jeff Bock, box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations. “Choosing the right one is paramount to the future of DC.”
Given that the controversy surrounds Miller and not the movie itself, some DC fans have wondered if Grant Gustin, who plays the titular character in the unrelated ongoing CW series “The Flash,” would be recast in the version. big screen. It’s a rare practice, which has been used sparingly in the past with Christopher Plummer (replacing Kevin Spacey) in 2017’s ‘All the Money in the World’ and Mads Mikkelsen (taking over Johnny Depp as the wizard black Gellert Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets”). However, in the case of “All the Money in the World” Spacey had only a supporting role, and in “Fantastic Beasts 3”, Depp had only shot one sequence, so Mikkelsen didn’t need to duplicate a lot of sequences.
With “The Flash,” insiders say it wouldn’t be possible to replace Miller without remaking the entire movie. They’re in just about every scene, and there’s not enough digital technology to set up that magic without going back to square one. And remaking the whole movie isn’t a realistic proposition for any movie — let alone one that wrapped production months ago and has already cost hundreds of millions.
In the past, actors who have found themselves in hot water but not scratched from the call sheet have effectively been hidden away during press tours in the hope that the general public will not notice their absence. . Recently, Ansel Elgort, who played Tony in the remake of Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” went down that route following a sexual assault allegation made against the actor in 2020. Ditto Armie Hammer, who starred in Disney and “Death on the Nile” and faced sexual abuse allegations after filming wrapped. For “West Side Story,” Elgort co-stars Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose and Rita Moreno successfully spearheaded the film’s press tour.With “Death on the Nile”, there was a feeling that Hammer (who did no press for the ensemble-heavy film) wasn’t well enough known to that people are aware of the allegations.
Sources close to ‘The Flash’ believe Miller is also under the radar, despite credits like the film adaptation of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’, ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ and ‘Justice League’ and three “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Already, Miller’s string of arrests had forced Warner Bros. to play down the actor’s involvement in “Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets,” which opened in April .
But similar to Hammer in “Death on the Nile,” Miller played one of the many main characters in the “Harry Potter” spin-off, which means the promotional efforts haven’t landed on their shoulders. The same cannot be said for “The Flash”. Of course, the film also features big names like Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton. But a studio can’t effectively promote a big-budget blockbuster without the movie’s star.
However, analysts have pointed out that with comic book heroes, the character himself is often a bigger star than the actor wearing the Lycra suit.
“The thing about superheroes is…it doesn’t matter who’s under the mask,” Bock says. “You can plug in and play different actors in these roles.” Although Miller’s take on the character has appeared in several DC mashups, like “Justice League,” Bock claims they aren’t “the face of The Flash” yet. In other words, “Ezra is not Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.”
Even before Miller hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, “The Flash” has been plagued by a long gestation and multiple starts and stops. Since Miller was cast in 2014, several directors, including Seth Grahame-Smith, Rick Famuyiwa and the duo of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein have been attached and then left the production due to creative differences. “It” filmmaker Andy Muschietti came on board in 2019 and finished the job.
These behind-the-scenes headaches, along with the pandemic, have resulted in several release date delays. But the studio can’t postpone “The Flash” indefinitely. The new timeslot in mid-2023 should, in theory, give Warner Bros. enough time. to determine the best course of action.
As the studio sees it, “The Flash” is more than a standard superhero origin story. The film, which begins as Barry Allen travels back in time to prevent his mother’s murder, opens up the DC Multiverse, paving the way for Batman from alternate realities (namely, Keaton and Affleck) to ride the Spandex-clad hero. by Miller. Just think about potential sequels, spin-offs, and teams that could inspire.
“The Flash” also gives Warners another viable contender in its mission to keep up with Disney’s commercially unrivaled Marvel Cinematic Universe. DC has several properties planned for 2022 and beyond, including “Shazam: Fury of the Gods,” “Aquaman 2,” and “DC League of Super-Pets.” But crossover events like ‘The Flash’ have become particularly exciting for fans, especially after 2018’s ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ successfully introduced the concept of the multiverse – and ticket sales – to the general public. hits for 2021’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and 2022’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” confirmed that moviegoers truly, really like the concept.
There’s a timeline in which Miller actually manages to pull himself together and “The Flash” is able to open up seamlessly while charming critics and fans alike. While Miller’s behavior could certainly force Warners to make “The Flash” a one-off project, it’s not meant to be a one-off adventure. However, Warner Bros. remains enthusiastic about “The Flash”, believing the film to be one of DC’s most powerful theatrical efforts.
In the meantime, the actor responsible for bringing The Flash to life on the big screen could jeopardize the future of the franchise and the studio’s desire to be part of Ezra Miller’s business. But there’s reason to believe the Flash can keep going, even if Miller has to hang up his shoes.