Peacock via YouTube
In a just-released clip from his Peacock show Hart to Heart, Kevin Hart asks Dwayne Johnson why, given what Hart sees as a successful opening and “an appetite from your fan base,” Black Adam didn’t get a sequel.
“I think that Black Adam got caught in a vortex of new leadership,” Johnson answers, adding that it “got knocked down a bit” because of Covid-related stoppages. Johnson then moved back to issues with leadership.
“It was so many changes in leadership. Anytime you have a company, a publicly-traded company, and you have all those changes in leadership, you have people coming in who creatively, fiscally, are going to make decisions that you may not agree with, philosophically.”
Last December, Johnson took to social media to relate a conversation with DC Studios co-head James Gunn that Black Adam wouldn’t be a part of the first phase of DC’s new plans. “However, DC and Seven Bucks have agreed to continue exploring the most valuable ways Black Adam can be utilized in future DC multiverse chapters,” Johnson wrote. He then made clear, “These decisions made by James and DC leadership represent their vision of DCU through their creative lens.”
That followed the much-discussed decision by then-new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav to scrap the nearly-completed Batgirl film that cost that cost $60 million-$70 million.
With some time between then and now, Johnson tells Hart, “I think Black Adam is one of those movies that got caught in that web of new leadership. And that will always be one of the, one of the biggest mysteries I think, not only for me and us on our end, but also throughout our business.”
Black Adam per our sources didn’t lose much money — and we stick by that. Johnson says he and others wonder why, given that performance and other positives despite the headwinds the film faced, Black Adam was not included in the new DCU.
“That was a question out of Wall Street, that was a question out of Hollywood: ‘Wait a minute. You had the biggest opening of your career. Sure, no China. That could have been maybe $100m, maybe 200m more dollars. You’re establishing a new superhero. You want to grow out the franchise. You bring back Superman and Henry Cavill. The world went crazy.’ And also, too, we created a diverse superhero portfolio…”
Johnson seems to be at peace that he kept the main thing the main thing, even if the studio may not have done so.
“As business-minded people, you and I, who are always thinking ‘audience first,’ yes we look at and respect the bottom line economically, but also when you think about opportunity and creating opportunity and creating things that are fresh for our audience – which is our number one boss – when that wasn’t looked at through that lens, it makes things a little more challenging for guys like you and I.”
Johnson, as he often does, compared it to sports where a new team owner wants to put his stamp on a franchise, no matter what.
“You know what it is? It’s like new ownership coming in and buying an NFL team going, “Alright. Not my head coach. Not my quarterback. Doesn’t matter how many times we won the Super Bowl. Doesn’t matter how many rings we got. I’m going with somebody else.”