Silver Age Ends For Warner Bros.


Deadline reports that megaproducer Joel Silver is out at Warners – he no longer has a production deal with the studio vis-a-vi his Silver Pictures and Dark Castle labels. This may not “read” as much if you don’t follow “the industry,” but on the inside rest assured this is major, epic, end-of-an-era, Fall Of A Titan stuff. Most modern-day producers are lucky to last more than a year in one deal; Silver had been at Warner Bros. since the early 1980s and was seen as “old school” even then: a hard-living, harder-partying, opulence-favoring eccentric infamous for harraunging his employees and his employers into risky gambles with big payoffs – so goes the legend, he gave The Wachowskis, then virtual-nobodies with one movie under their belt, damn near carte-blanche to make “The Matrix” based on little more than the (then) brothers introducing him to Anime and a promise that they could deliver that style in live-action.

If you came up watching action movies in the mid-80s/early-90s, Silver was responsible for a HUGE amount of what you likely absorbed: He backed the original runs of the “Lethal Weapon,” “Die Hard” and “Predator” series, plus one-off hits like “Commando,” “Demolition Man” and “The Last Boy Scout.”

Not everything he touched was gold, though, and his willingness to role the dice on oddball projects like “Hudson Hawk” and “Speed Racer” along with a legendary bluster made him plenty of detractors. Over the last decade he’d made most of his money in the realm of low-budget horror via the Dark Castle imprint, though he still found room to throw his clout behind hard-sells like “Kiss-Kiss Bang-Bang” and “Splice.” He also spent a decade trying to get a live-action “Wonder Woman” off the ground, only to lose the rights when Warners decided to take the various DC franchises back from individual producers a few years ago.

All told, Warners has probably been trying to find a way out of the partnership ever since “Speed Racer” bombed; but this is still pretty big stuff. Whatever he does next (another studio? independent production?) will be a major story whenever it breaks.

12 thoughts on “Silver Age Ends For Warner Bros.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Avengers is out in Mexico since midnight today… I've watched it but don't want to say anything yet… why is it taking so long for everybody to watch it?! Please everybody go soon ok?


  2. Anonymous says:

    How in the world did Speed Racer bomb? I really dont get it – it was a fantastic movie, even if you werent nostalgia addicted.


  3. Anonymous says:

    It was a financial and critical failure, which is what most people mean by “bomb;” Bob wasn't saying he thought the movie sucked.


  4. Elessar says:

    I appear to be in the minority, but I couldn't stand Speed Racer. That said it, like Hudson Hawk, was a huge critical and financial flop, so it's no wonder he wanted out after that.


  5. Sam says:

    Thought I'd post some Speed Racer love, too. One of my favorites, for what it is: uncompromisingly goofy, the Good kind of inside-joke-with-fans (in that it doesn't detract from other's enjoyment), and just a fantastic spectacle.

    Certainly not for everyone, though. Sad that it wasn't for enough to be successful.


  6. Sam says:

    Bob: interesting post about movie biz news and its possible consequences.

    Comments section: “Speed racer!” “Speed racer :(” “SPEED RACER :D” “speeeed racer? hooray!”

    Funny how many of us feel the need to stick up for it, I guess, such that even a cursory mention gets a lot of responses.


  7. Anonymous says:



    >Speed Racer


    Nerds: you can never win.


  8. KevinCV says:

    @Anonymous 1:17 Haha, that reminds me of a similar situation in some sections of the “Doctor Who” fandom. Case in point:

    > During Russell T. Davies' tenure as showrunner

    “WAH! Russell's changed the show too much from what it used to be! Steven Moffat's eps are the only good ones! David Tennant is playing Doctor too much like a human!”

    > During Steven Moffat's tenure as showrunner

    “WAH! Steven's made the show too scary and complicated with his timey-wimey shenanigans! Bring back RTD's straightforward storytelling! Oh, and Matt Smith is too alien as the Doctor!”

    Whovians: the biggest unpleasable fanbase since 1963.


  9. Crafty Andy says:

    Speed Racer was released between Prince Caspian and Iron Man. It was just one of those years of great films and it got swallowed up into them.
    I thought it was fantastic and deserved another chance. Why don't studios figure out why their movie didn't sell well and try a sequel anyways? They made their money back.


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