Grahame-Smith was set to make his directorial debut with a major studio tentpole film after authoring books/screenplays like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. His only directing credits come from two episodes of an MTV teen comedy called The Hard Times of RJ Berger about an awkward teen who becomes instantly popular for having a large penis.
With many more producer and writing credits, Grahame-Smith seemed like an odd choice to begin his feature film directing career with one of the most iconic superheroes and more importantly a vital edition of DC's slate of comic book films. Especially with the mixed reaction from critics and fans of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, it's even more critical that future films evolve to be more balanced and profitable.
Not that close to $900 million in worldwide box office is a failure, 'BvS' was a polarizing film nonetheless, leaving audiences divided, some of them passionately in support or overly critical. The Flash already was a wild card when Ezra Miller was cast so early in the process. Miller by all accounts is a talented young actor on the rise from the indie film world starring in movies like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and City Island.
The long-haired brunette looks nothing like the traditionally blonde Barry Allen of the comics or CW network series. That Barry Allen as played by Grant Gustin on the television series has become the face of the Scarlett Speedster to fans worldwide and the popular show is one of the best examples of comic book adaptations in any medium. Fans wouldn't mind having Gustin reprise the role in the film but the studio squashed that idea a while ago, as TV and film will remain separate entities.
Miller has already appeared in 'BvS' in a cameo acknowledging his existence as the Flash in the DCEU and is currently filming Justice League Part One which is scheduled for release in 2017. So what does the departure of Grahame-Smith mean for The Flash?
Warner Bros now has an opportunity to correct its seemingly hasty decision to hire an unproven director like Grahame-Smith with any number of qualified candidates we hope will include people of color. James Wan (Fast 7) is working on Aquaman (more on that) and represents the right approach of attaining hot directing talent while also adding diversity. Patty Jenkins on Wonder Woman is the first woman director since Lexi Alexander (Punisher: War Zone) in 2008 to helm a comic book film.
It would behoove the studio to look at Alexander as a possibility because besides having experience could add legitimacy to the call for equality among directors. Considering Alexander's blunt and candid discussions on social media, it could also help to keep the studio honest.
So the loss of a director this early in the process is not a death knell, it's actually a sobering opportunity to get it right. While there's no reason to panic some in the movie blogosphere have come bearing potentially bad news. Veteran film blogger and human rain cloud, Devin Faraci of Birth.Movies.Death is reporting that several unnamed sources at Warner Bros say that Zack Snyder and the executives have conflicting visions for the DCEU.
Could there be turmoil behind the scenes between the studio and its franchise director? Of course, but is that uncommon when there is so much money and credibility at stake? Is this any different than any other huge movie-making venture of other studios? No. Even the saintly executives at Marvel Studios have had their own amount of drama - dropping Edgar Wright from Ant-Man, the in-fighting between Kevin Feige and Ike Perlmutter - and the studios somehow survived. These issues don't bring out the media grim reapers like they do for DC films because as long as even Marvel's mediocre fare are blockbusters it's considered par for the course.Zack Snyder and Geoff Johns were taken aback at critical and audience reaction to Batman v Superman, I'm told, and WB execs have found themselves at odds with Snyder over his vision for Justice League and the DC movieverse going forward. Of course Justice League was scheduled to start shooting mere days after BvS was released, which meant WB couldn't take any definitive action - like removing Snyder or delaying the movie to make changes - without poisoning the box office for BvS. The result? Lots of fights between Snyder and the WB execs, and lots of pressure from Burbank on Snyder, who is shooting in London.
Faraci also reports that Aquaman director James Wan is having cold feet about putting that project together. So much so that it could delay its planned July 27, 2018, release. Wan still has The Conjuring 2 coming out this summer along with producing Lights Out for Warner Bros. It's not clear what the basis for Wan's trepidation is but Faraci speculates that after the arduous shoot for Fast 7, Aquaman may be too much to tackle.
Admittedly, WB hasn't done themselves any favors by sleeping at the wheel while Marvel was getting organized and designing a slew of comic book movies that have become a pop culture and box office phenomenon. Warner Bros has stubbornly put all their faith in the cash cow that is Batman films ignoring the vast catalog of DC Comics. When they tried starting a new franchise they interfered with Green Lantern to the point it was a jumbled mess and Catwoman was unrecognizable and equally unwatchable. Luckily for WB the television division, both in live-action and animation, has been the saving grace that feeds fans with hope for a better movieverse.
As for Grahame-Smith, he and Warner Bros will remain coupled. 'The Flash' is using his script that was derived from a treatment from the LEGO Movie's Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. He is also a writer on the studio’s Lego Batman Movie and is working on Beetlejuice 2.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter