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.