American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis is sitting at dinner with some movie executives. They say they know some other executives working on Ben Affleck’s upcoming Batman movie. And they tell Ellis something that should chill the heart of not just superhero fans, but fans of movies, period.
Now, a caveat before you read this: It’s third-hand story—from movie executives who told other movie executives who told Ellis who told The Ringer during an interview. We also have no idea who any of these executives are, or if any of them are in a position to truly know this information. On the other hand, there is no obvious reason for Ellis to lie about this.
With that warning out of the way, here is what Ellis said during a larger story about the movie industry:
I was having dinner with a couple of executives who know other executives who are working on the [forthcoming] Batman movie, The Batman. And they were just telling me that there are serious problems with the script. And that the executives I was having dinner with were complaining about people who work on the Batman movie. And they just said they went to the studio and they said, ‘Look, the script is … Here’s 30 things that are wrong with it that we can fix.’ And [the executives] said, ‘We don’t care. We don’t really care. The amount of money we’re going to make globally, I mean 70 percent of our audience is not going to be seeing this in English. And it doesn’t really matter, these things that you’re bringing up about the flaws of the script.’ So I do think global concerns play a big part in how movies, and what movies, are being made, obviously.
We reached out to Warner Bros. for comment but have not yet heard back as of publication. But it’s certainly true that we’re well past the point where Hollywood makes movies just for the U.S.
Look at a movie like Warcraft. Not a Warner Bros. movie but in the U.S. it grossed $47 million. Overseas, it grossed $386 million, almost ten times as much. Terminator: Genisys did almost $90 million in the U.S. and $350 million internationally. And those are the bad movies. Good movies can even more shocking; Furious 7 made $800 million more overseas than in the U.S., while Avatar made over $1 billion more.
As for the DC movies, the difference is a little less eye-popping, but still significant. Batman v Superman made over $200 million more internationally than the U.S.; Suicide Squad has made well over $100 million more and counting. That means Warner Bros. could have only released those movies overseas and still been relatively happy with the grosses.
From a financial standpoint, it makes sense, but it is infinitely disheartening to imagine Warner Bros. deciding a coherent script isn’t necessary to make the film. So I guess if we get to the release of Ben Affleck’s Batman movie and has the same plot problems (and/or critical reception) as Suicide Squad or Batman v Superman, we know where to point the fingers.