Warner Bros. is encouraged by the success of Aquaman, but not in every way fans might have hoped. Topping $1 billion at the global box office is great, but it doesn’t make the studio any more eager to jump back into the shared universe game. WB may be happy enough with Aquaman 2 and other standalone projects.

“We all feel like we’ve turned a corner now,” Warner Bros. Pictures Group Chairman Toby Emmerich told The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re playing by the DC playbook, which is very different than the Marvel playbook. We are far less focused on a shared universe. We take it one movie at a time. Each movie is its own equation and own creative entity. If you had to say one thing about us, it’s that it always has to be about the directors.”

There are at least a couple of DC directors who might disagree with Emmerich on that last point. Marvel Studios will also say that it focuses on one movie at a time while building a cinematic universe, but that’s not really the point here. The chairman of the studio has effectively said what’s been suspected and reported on ever since the box office failure of Justice League: Warner Bros. will focus on individual films/franchises going forward.

WB’s rationale is easy enough to figure out, considering the financial performance of all the films in the current DC era. Justice League was supposed to be the studio’s big payoff, crossing over several heroes capable of headlining their own films. It should have been the studio’s highest-grossing DCEU film, as Marvel’s Avengers series tops the MCU, but instead, Justice League ($657.9M) is at the very bottom of the DCEU global rankings.

The standalone Aquaman ($1.038B) is the highest-grossing DC-based film in over six years. Aquaman will eventually pass The Dark Knight Rises ($1.085B) as the top worldwide earner for all DC movies of any era. Wonder Woman, another standalone film, ranks third globally ($821.8M) in the DCEU, but tops the domestic charts ($407.2M).

Warner Bros. probably would have seen better results from Justice League had the studio built to it properly, but the studio doesn’t need to worry about what could have been. Warner Bros. will worry about potential later in favor of the actual success it’s experiencing right now by leaving DC heroes on their own instead of bringing them together.

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SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter