In a fun bit of internet drama late last week, Pajiba posted an open letter from a pseudonymed, irate Warner Bros. employee addressed to the company’s CEO, Kevin Tsujihara. The letter took Tsujihara to task for a variety of box office bombs and underperforming franchises, failures for which lower level employees have borne the brunt via layoffs. There’s been some debate about the legitimacy of the letter writer and many have called it a fake written by a fan; the letter has tidbits of insider knowledge, though perhaps not enough to prove her credibility wholly. Regardless of its authenticity, the letter is an amusing scorcher, and is particularly interesting for what it has to say about Warner Bros.’s upcoming Wonder Woman film in the wake of Suicide Squad‘s critical drubbing:
What are you even doing? I wish to God you were forced to live out of a car until you made a #1 movie of the year. Maybe Wonder Woman wouldn’t be such a mess. Don’t try to hide behind the great trailer. People inside are already confirming it’s another mess. It is almost impressive how you keep rewarding the same producers and executives for making the same mistakes, over and over.
We don’t get many specifics, but the implication seems to be that Wonder Woman is in a troubling state in the same way that Suicide Squad was, i.e. a film developed in a similarly dark vein as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice scrambling to change its tone after critics eviscerated Batman v Superman and the film failed to deliver the studio’s box office expectations (it made a lot of money, sure, but all sources suggest that Warner Bros. expected it to be a billion dollar movie, which it wasn’t). Suicide Squad had massive reshoots trying to strike a lighter tone, and the resulting film is a bizarre jumble that’s just plummeted at the box office in its second week. This open letter suggests that Wonder Woman might be experiencing similar troubles.
Whether or not this is true, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins took to Twitter to defend the film and call into question the report. Combined into a paragraph with her original spelling and grammar, Jenkins wrote:
Woah, just saw this press about WW having problems. Are they serious? This is some made up bs right here. Made up! Produce a source, anyone. You can’t because it’s entirely false. Don’t believe the hype people. Someone’s trying to spread some serious misinfo. Isn’t until you are intimately involved in these things that you realize how totally false these rumors can. Let me reassure you zero about the movie we are making has been called a mess by anyone in the know. Fact. Real lasso of truth, time, will reveal that letter to be false soon enough. But lame something so transparent in its agenda gets traction.
It’s an unequivocal defense of the movie, which is to be expected from its director, really. Though we’ve seen other directors at Warner Bros. talk about how well their film is going and how everyone is on board only to end up with cinematic messes; see: Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. Still, Wonder Woman is ten months away and I doubt there’s even much of a rough cut yet, much less anything near a finished picture. Unless it’s been terrible from the start, it’s unlikely there’s much for folks at Warner Bros. to praise or criticize yet. Plus Geoff Johns co-wrote the film, and he’s the poster boy for DC’s new, more fun direction. Wonder Woman may turn out to be the first film in this new tone, rather than the last of the original dark tone.
As always with rumoury movie news, time will tell. The trailer for Wonder Woman was fantastic, Gal Gadot is a great Wonder Woman, and the rest of the cast seems strong. I’m not worried about it yet, apart from my general worry about any superhero film that involves Zack Snyder in any capacity. The open letter will either be a prescient warning if the movie is bad or something we all forget about if it’s good. I remain cautiously optimistic it will be good. Maybe I’m fooling myself after Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad, but I’m hoping for the best.