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James Gunn Slams Other Studios' Plans For Shared Universes

Posted By: Matt McGloin
Sat, 11/22/2014 - 15:05


Yesterday, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn took to his Facebook page to offer his thoughts on every studio creating a shared universe.

Gunn's argument is that studios that do have a successful shared universe started out with a quality movie from the get-go before announcing all the tie-in movies and sequels.

While it sounds as if James Gunn is taking a swipe at Warner Bros. with their Justice League movies, Gunn added in the comments that it isn't "geared" at Warner Bros." Gunn previously received some heat from a DC fanboy for previous comments made as well.

Here is what James Gunn had to say followed by his comment:


Listen, I love big ass shared universes in movies, as well as huge franchises. But I'm a little worried about the numerous shared universes being planned by the studios, without having a strong base film to grow from - or in some cases, NO base film to grow from. Star Wars had the original Star Wars, the Marvel Universe had the original Iron Man, the Dark Knight series had Batman Begins, even movies like Transformers and Twilight - these were movies audiences loved, and the audiences demanded more from these characters. But these days studios are trying to grow trees without a strong seed. Execs and producers and sometimes even directors are focused on the big picture, without perfecting the task directly in front of them - making a great movie. And studios are trying to grow franchises from non-existent films or middling successes. It's like they aren't taking audiences into account at all anymore.

I know George Lucas, Kevin Feige, John Favreau, etc, had ideas where their films would potentially lead in the face of success. But I don't think it ever got in the way of making that first movie count as if it was the last, of making it something wonderful that people would love whether it led to other films or not.

In short, I think this new business model is flawed. I think filmmakers and studios should be prepared for the big picture, but never, ever let it get in the way of making a single great film. Be a little more experimental and see what works as opposed to trying to force success. And mostly, remember that we as an industry exist to serve the audiences, to communicate with them - they have a voice in what we create as well. We are not here to dictate what they want to see, mostly because that's simply not possible.

Follow-up comment:

Anyone in the industry, or anyone who reads the trades, knows that this isn't geared at Warners - it's a type of thinking that's currently rampant in Hollywood, and this post is geared toward all the studios, and all filmmakers as well.

Update: Gunn also add in the comments:

As strange as it sounds, I WISH money seemed to be more a part of the thinking here, but it's not. Movies that make money are movies the audiences are interested in, and usually ones they like. But now franchises and shared universes are being built off of movies that are disappointments or middling successes at the box office. There is a sort of desperate hope on the part of studios that if they just try hard enough, they can force their IP to work for them. It's sad. And it's not based on money, it's based on illogical thinking and knee-jerk copycatism.


Neither Marvel nor DC is "flawless," come on. And how come you guys love to fight about Marvel and DC is beyond me. We're not rival football teams.