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Warners/DC made surprising headlines today when they announced director James Gunn (Suicide Squad) and producer Peter Safran (Aquaman) will be the new co-CEOs of DC film, television, and animation.

In a stunning turn of events, filmmaker James Gunn and producer Peter Safran have been tapped to lead DC’s film, TV and animation efforts as co-chairs and co-CEOs of DC Studios, a newly formed division at Warner Bros. that will replace DC Films.

This highly unusual move, placing a filmmaker in the top executive position, marks the end of a months-long search by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav to replace DC Films boss Walter Hamada, who departed the studio last week. That search had all of Hollywood guessing who will take the leadership of the DC Universe.

Gunn will focus on the creative side of things, while Safran will focus on the business and production side. Gunn has been active making films for both Marvel and DC. In fact he has two Marvel projects coming up in the next 6 months. Guardians of the Galaxy holiday TV special, and the Guardians of the Galaxy 3 movie.

The new deal reportedly allows him to continue to work as a director and Safran as a producer. The term is for four years, which is actually a bit longer than the average duration of a studio head’s reign. They typically last only 3 years in the most challenging job type in the entertainment industry: Studio Head, responsible for the success and failure of all productions.

There are some exceptions this time: unlike Marvel Studios, DC has multiple films set in separate creative universes, and according to insiders, Joker filmmaker Todd Phillips’ sequel, going into production this year, will not be part of Gunn and Safran’s mandate. They instead will be overseen by Warners film co-chair Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy. Matt Reeves, who worked under Hamada, has a begining universe based on his The Batman movie. It is unclear under whose purview Reeves’ future projects would fall, but we are told everything else moving forward will be Gunn and Safran’s.

James Gunn is one of the more respected creators in the world of comic book filmmaking. He came up in the indie film world and became an A-list director in 2014 with Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy and its 2017 sequel. He jumped to DC in 2018 to develop The Suicide Squad after Marvel temporarily fired him as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. (The studio later reinstated him, and that project is due out in May 2023.) His DC foray The Suicide Squad was critically adored and spawned the hit HBO Max spinoff Peacemaker, starring John Cena.

Safran came up as a manager and Gunn was among his clients. He is fully capable in the world of DC, as producer of the $1 billion-grossing Aquaman and its upcoming sequel, as well as Squad, Peacemaker and Shazam! and its sequel. His relationship with Warners extends back 10 years and includes the $2 billion Conjuring horror franchise. The Safran Company recently re-upped its production deal with Warners. Both men will continue to work own their own projects while also supervising.

The move is being described and “bold” and “shocking”, and it is. The two men begin work on Nov. 1, but it takes months, even years to build up a slate of productions. Let’s hope they have a bit of luck and that Warner Bros. Discovery gives them time. DC has a great big 3 heroes in Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. And a great big 3 villains in Joker, Luthor, and Darkseid. Who’s next? DC had a No. 1 film this past weekend in New Line’sDwayne Johnson movie Black Adam.


David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.