Movie producer Dan Lin, who had been in talks to become head of Warner Bros. Discovery‘s DC Comics film and TV unit, won’t take the job, after all, according to people familiar with the matter.
The two sides ended negotiations without reaching a deal.
The news comes during a tumultuous time for the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery. CEO David Zaslav has been attempting to remake WarnerMedia after merging it with Discovery in April, including layoffs and content eliminations from streaming service HBO Max. Shares are down about 50% since the merger closed.
After discussing a potential offer from Warner Bros., Lin has decided to stay at Rideback, the film and television company he founded and runs, the people said, who asked not to be named because the talks were private. He has produced films such as “The Lego Movie” and the two-part big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s “It.”
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. Discovery declined to comment. Lin couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The 49-year-old film producer was a favorite to take on the role, with expectations that Lin would report directly to Zaslav and bypass division heads at HBO and HBO Max, Warner Bros. TV and Warner Bros. pictures. Contract discussions ran into complications because of Lin’s ownership of Rideback and how Warner Bros. Discovery would compensate him for that, two of the people said.
The two sides exchanged term sheets, and Lin wanted to keep Rideback operational with an equity stake owned by WBD, one of the people said. Both parties decided to move on after negotiations bogged down, one of the people said.
Zaslav has been looking for someone to steady the ship at the DC film division, home to superheroes such as Wonder Woman and Superman, as Warner Bros. Discovery aims to capture the kind of consistent success enjoyed by Disney‘s Marvel Studios.
Warner Bros. recently moved its “Aquaman” sequel, which was set for a March 2023 release, to December 2023. “The Flash,” also set for release next year, is under a cloud of controversy due to its star, Ezra Miller, facing several allegations, including child grooming. Zaslav pulled the nearly complete “Batgirl” from its HBO Max release slate, allowing the company to take a tax writeoff.
In April it was reported that Zaslav had approached Emma Watts, a former top film executive at 20th Century Studios and Paramount, to take the mantle, but that Watts did not take the job. Warner Bros. Discovery is speaking to several other candidates for the job, one of the people said. Zaslav personally met with Lin in his attempt to convince him to take the job, another person said.
Zaslav has recently discussed his desire to build a “long-term, much stronger, sustainable growth business out of DC” that focuses on quality. The executive is eyeing a reset of the DC cinematic universe that would set up a 10-year plan for the franchise.
Zaslav tapped Hollywood producer Alan Horn in July to act in a consultant role to help the CEO navigate the film business. Horn, a well-respected executive and Disney veteran, was with the Walt Disney Company when it began shaping its Marvel Cinematic Universe and the relaunch of the Star Wars film franchise.
He also helped bring the “Hobbit” films to the big screen as well as the eight-film Harry Potter film franchise and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.