Has DC’s new leader been found?
Dan Linthe executive-turned-producer who boasts hits such as live-action Aladdin, The Lego Movie, and the This horror movies, is in talks to take on the role of DC chief, multiple sources told THR.
The role is not just overseeing film, but television as well, with Lin reporting directly to the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, according to sources.
The structure bypasses three separate division heads – Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy of Warner Bros. Pictures, HBO/HBO Max chief Casey Bloys and chairman of Warner Bros. TV Channing Dungey – and puts control of DC in the hands of one person.
Walter Hamada, the current director of DC Movies, would leave the role, according to sources. A Warner insider says no negotiations are taking place and no official offer has been made, although other sources say the talks are about salary, reporting structure and the future of the vast Lin’s production company, Rideback.
Should a deal be reached, it would end months of one of the most intense executive searches in recent memory, which has come under intense scrutiny from rival Hollywood producers and executives, as well only by DC fans.
Zaslav said he was looking for Warners’ own version of Kevin Feige, the famed Marvel exec who helmed the rival comics company’s movies, then later its TV portfolio, in a pop culture juggernaut of several billions of dollars.
It’s an almost impossible request, but that hasn’t stopped the names of the leaders from surfacing. Emma Watts has proven to be an early contender as in recent months names such as Amy Pascal, Matt Tolmach, Sean Bailey and Greg Berlanti have reportedly been met or pushed by savvy agency heads.
Lin’s name came up in the late game, but he has a champion in Advisor Warner Alan Horn, the former Disney chairman who ran Warners as president and chief operating officer in the 2000s. It was during this last tenure that Lin worked for Horn, starting as a junior executive and rising to vice -Senior President of Production. He struck out as a producer on his own in 2008, but not before helming films such as The dead and 10,000 BC He also oversaw the infamous and aborted Justice League feature film that was to be directed by George Miller. (The 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike and tax credit complications were factors in its derailment.)
Lin is a respected producer known for his intelligence and, in a city full of hype and ego, his willingness to find experts in areas that aren’t his forte. He’s worked on franchises — the Sherlock Holmes moves with Robert Downey Jr., all four Lego movies — as well as Stephen King’s hit two-part adaptation. This. His resume ranges from big deals, such as the Billion-Dollar Bright Colors Aladdinto intimate dramas, like the Oscar nominee The two popes. He comes out of the early August release of Universal’s comedy Jo Koy, Easter Sunday.
And he also has television experience, a key factor for the new position. Lin and his corporate executive produced the lethal weapon show that aired for three seasons on Fox and Walkerthe restart of Walker, Texas Ranger which will begin its third season on the CW this fall. He and company are in post-production on the ambitious big-budget live-action series on Avatar: The Last Airbender for Netflix.
Lin has also shown ambitions beyond the Hollywood screen. Its banner, Rideback, has a non-profit arm and several initiatives and grants that help BIPOC and emerging entrepreneurs. It’s unclear what would happen to Rideback, but one scenario, sources say, is that Warner Bros. Discovery would take some kind of stake in the company. Rideback would also continue to operate as a production entity and would be led by current President Jonathan Eirich.
If Lin takes over, he will replace Hamada, who joined DC in 2018a time when the brand was looking to reset after Justice League (2017) Bombed. Hamada, who had a reputation for being a kind collaborator, kept a much lower profile than Marvel’s Feige, who really is the face of the franchise. Although rival Marvel Studios has a tightly-knit universe, DC under Hamada explored some stories that took place in separate universes, including the Oscar-winning $1 billion gross. Joker (2019) and Matt Reeves The Batman (2022), which grossed $769.2 million worldwide. Sequels to both are in the works.
Hamada has formed relationships with talents such as Marvel favorite James Gunn, who directed The Suicide Squad (2021) and created the HBO Max spin-off Peacemakerand has other projects in development in DC.
However, Hamada’s tenure has also underscored the public pressures that come with DC’s leadership. Over the past two years, Hamada has been the subject of critical tweets from Justice League actor Ray Fisher, who put the executive in the unusual position of leading a film division while being publicly criticized by one of its stars. In the summer of 2020, Fisher accused filmmaker Joss Whedon of abusive and unprofessional behavior on the set of the 2017 reshoots for Justice League, which Whedon oversaw after director Zack Snyder left. Although Hamada was not in DC during the production of Justice LeagueFisher accused the executive of to attempt throw Whedon and producer Jon Berg “under the bus” to protect Geoff Johns, another Justice League producer Fisher said he activated Whedon. Hamada was cleared in the studio’s investigations into everything Justice League interference.
Hamada was gearing up to release three or four movies a year between theaters and HBO Max when the Warner Bros. Discovery happened. Some consider his exit to come only halfway through his proper DC run, while other observers believe he didn’t receive enough domestic support from the previous AT&T regime.
Lin would join DC at a time when Zaslav swore reshape dc with a ten-year plan, he hopes to allow the brand to compete with Disney-owned Marvel Studios, which has built the biggest movie franchise in history.
“We did a reset… We believe we can build a much stronger, sustainable growth business out of DC,” Zaslav said in an Aug. 4 earnings call, just two days after he scrapped HBO Max’s $90 million bat girl film that Hamada presided over. “In this context, we will focus on quality. We’re not going to release a movie until it’s ready… DC is something we can improve on.
—Aaron Couch contributed to this story.