Geoff Johns is stepping down as president and chief creative officer of DC Entertainment, the studio announced on Monday. Johns will transition to a new role, with a first-look writer/producer deal at parent company Warner Bros.
The announcement comes just days after the studio said Diane Nelson would exit as DC Entertainment consumer products group president. A source familiar with the situation told TheWrap the moves are part of a larger shakeup at the studio.
As part of the first-look deal, Johns will start a new production banner called Mad Ghost Productions, which will create new movies, TV and comic book titles based on DC characters. DC Entertainment
publisher Jim Lee will take Johns’ spot as CCO while continuing in his current role with Dan DiDio.
Johns’ first project in this new deal will be “Green Lantern Corps,” which is slated for a 2020 release and will be based on the DC comic book series he spent nine years writing on. Johns will be both writer and producer on the film. He is also currently attached as a co-writer and executive producer on the next upcoming DC film, “Aquaman,” as well as next year’s sequel to “Wonder Woman.”
Johns’ new role comes as Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment are trying to retool their approach to the DC Cinematic Universe. While the film series had its first bonafide hit a year ago with “Wonder Woman,” it failed to turn that into further box office success with “Justice League.” Despite having Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and more of DC’s most famous heroes, “Justice League” only grossed $657.9 million worldwide, $164 million less than what Wonder Woman’s solo outing made a few months prior.
Since “Justice League” was released, an extensive leadership shuffle has taken place at WB and DC. Johns’ right-hand man Jon Berg took a producer deal with Warner Bros., as did longtime WB marketing chief Sue Kroll. Diane Nelson, another DC Entertainment head and twenty-plus year veteran at WB, left the studio earlier this month after a months-long sabbatical.
TheWrap’s Umberto Gonzalez reported that production for “Justice League” was tumultuous, with disagreements over Zack Snyder’s darker tone for the film and the DC series as a whole. Further complications also arose, including reshoots, the replacement of Greg Silverman with Toby Emmerich as studio president, and Joss Whedon being brought in to complete the film after the death of Snyder’s daughter.
Insiders told TheWrap that Whedon’s final cut of “Justice League” was an attempt to find a balance between Snyder’s original tone and a lighter, more optimistic approach in the wake of “Wonder Woman”‘s success. Now, WB is trying to streamline the production process on future DC films in the hopes of giving the DCU a stronger identity.
“Aquaman” will be released on December 21, followed by “Shazam!” in April 2019 and “Wonder Woman 2” in November 2019.