Evolution of John Cena, from WWE’s Doctor of Thuganomics to ‘Blockers’ (Photos)

John Cena has risen through the professional wrestling ranks to become not just one of the sport’s most popular and bankable stars, but one of the most recognizable faces in entertainment today. With “Blockers” set to open soon, let’s take a look back at the rise of Cenation.

1999

Cena first appeared as The Prototype, a semi-robotic character, in the Ohio Valley Wrestling organization (essentially, WWE’s minor league system).

2002

Shortly after being called up to WWE’s main roster, Cena adopted a new persona: Doctor of Thuganomics, a white rapper who often spat rhymes before his matches and had a penchant for backwards baseball caps and jersey combos. This also served as the beginning of a secondary career for Cena, who recorded a rap album in 2005 (which debuted at 15 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200) and was featured on the WWE soundtrack album “WWE Originals.”

2005

After winning the WWE United States Championship the previous year, Cena defeated John “Bradshaw” Mayfield at WrestleMania 21 to win his first World Championship, solidifying his status as a wrestling star.

2006

Cena made his feature acting debut in WWE Studios’ “The Marine” opposite Robert Patrick. Along with his new wrestling persona as a marine private who sports flags and denim shorts, the movie helped make Cena the new American hero of the WWE.

2010

After a guest appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” Cena was allowed to display his comedy chops on an episode of USA Network’s “Psych,” serving as a sign of things to come. Cena would return in 2017 for “Psych: The Movie.”

2012

After several years of losing and regaining the WWE Championship title, Cena entered into one of the biggest feuds in wrestling history against Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. After Johnson “screwed” Cena out of a match, Cena issued a challenge against Johnson for WrestleMania 28, exactly one year later. The highest-grossing event in WWE history ended with Johnson defeating Cena with his patented “Rock Bottom” move.

2013

Cena challenged Johnson to a rematch at WrestleMania 29, a challenge that Johnson accepted. This time, Cena emerged victorious. After the match, the two stars publicly shook hands and embraced, ending their feud.

2015

2015 turned out to be a breakthrough year for Cena, who appeared in the comedy films “Sisters,” “Daddy’s Home” and “Trainwreck.” He also made a memorable guest appearance as himself in the final season of “Parks and Recreation.”

2015 (cont’d)

In addition to his wrestling fans, Cena is known and beloved for his philanthropy, particularly his work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Cena began his relationship with the organization in 2004 and has since granted over 500 wishes.

2016

In 2016, Cena began hosting the Fox reality series “American Grit,” which pitted civilians against each other in grueling physical challenges under the guidance of seasoned military vets.

2017

Leaning into his image, Cena opened the year by playing a soldier in Doug Liman’s war thriller “The Wall” opposite Aaron Taylor-Johnson. He then appeared in “Daddy’s Home 2” before voicing a gentle bull with a big heart in “Ferdinand.”

2018

Cena will soon appear in his first comedic lead role opposite Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz in “Blockers.” He will also co-star in the “Transformers” spinoff “Bumblebee” with Hailee Steinfeld this Christmas.

John Cena has risen through the professional wrestling ranks to become not just one of the sport’s most popular and bankable stars, but one of the most recognizable faces in entertainment today. With “Blockers” set to open soon, let’s take a look back at the rise of Cenation.

1999

Cena first appeared as The Prototype, a semi-robotic character, in the Ohio Valley Wrestling organization (essentially, WWE’s minor league system).

2002

Shortly after being called up to WWE’s main roster, Cena adopted a new persona: Doctor of Thuganomics, a white rapper who often spat rhymes before his matches and had a penchant for backwards baseball caps and jersey combos. This also served as the beginning of a secondary career for Cena, who recorded a rap album in 2005 (which debuted at 15 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200) and was featured on the WWE soundtrack album “WWE Originals.”

2005

After winning the WWE United States Championship the previous year, Cena defeated John “Bradshaw” Mayfield at WrestleMania 21 to win his first World Championship, solidifying his status as a wrestling star.

2006

Cena made his feature acting debut in WWE Studios’ “The Marine” opposite Robert Patrick. Along with his new wrestling persona as a marine private who sports flags and denim shorts, the movie helped make Cena the new American hero of the WWE.

2010

After a guest appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” Cena was allowed to display his comedy chops on an episode of USA Network’s “Psych,” serving as a sign of things to come. Cena would return in 2017 for “Psych: The Movie.”

2012

After several years of losing and regaining the WWE Championship title, Cena entered into one of the biggest feuds in wrestling history against Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. After Johnson “screwed” Cena out of a match, Cena issued a challenge against Johnson for WrestleMania 28, exactly one year later. The highest-grossing event in WWE history ended with Johnson defeating Cena with his patented “Rock Bottom” move.

2013

Cena challenged Johnson to a rematch at WrestleMania 29, a challenge that Johnson accepted. This time, Cena emerged victorious. After the match, the two stars publicly shook hands and embraced, ending their feud.

2015

2015 turned out to be a breakthrough year for Cena, who appeared in the comedy films “Sisters,” “Daddy’s Home” and “Trainwreck.” He also made a memorable guest appearance as himself in the final season of “Parks and Recreation.”

2015 (cont’d)

In addition to his wrestling fans, Cena is known and beloved for his philanthropy, particularly his work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Cena began his relationship with the organization in 2004 and has since granted over 500 wishes.

2016

In 2016, Cena began hosting the Fox reality series “American Grit,” which pitted civilians against each other in grueling physical challenges under the guidance of seasoned military vets.

2017

Leaning into his image, Cena opened the year by playing a soldier in Doug Liman’s war thriller “The Wall” opposite Aaron Taylor-Johnson. He then appeared in “Daddy’s Home 2” before voicing a gentle bull with a big heart in “Ferdinand.”

2018

Cena will soon appear in his first comedic lead role opposite Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz in “Blockers.” He will also co-star in the “Transformers” spinoff “Bumblebee” with Hailee Steinfeld this Christmas.

‘Impulse’ Teaser: First Look At Doug Liman’s Action Drama Series On YouTube Red

We’re getting the first look at YouTube Red’s upcoming action drama series Impulse, directed and executive produced by Doug Liman (Bourne Identity).
The genre-bending hourlong action-thriller hails from Universal Cable Productions and studio-based Hypnotic (Suits) and marks the first UCP series for YouTube.
Based on the third novel in the Jumper series by Steven Gould, Impulse features a rebellious 16-year-old girl, Henry (Maddie Hasson) who has always felt different from…

We’re getting the first look at YouTube Red’s upcoming action drama series Impulse, directed and executive produced by Doug Liman (Bourne Identity). The genre-bending hourlong action-thriller hails from Universal Cable Productions and studio-based Hypnotic (Suits) and marks the first UCP series for YouTube. Based on the third novel in the Jumper series by Steven Gould, Impulse features a rebellious 16-year-old girl, Henry (Maddie Hasson) who has always felt different from…

‘Impulse’ Explores Sexual Assault And Teleportation On YouTube Red

Sexual assault is at the center of  YouTube’s teleportation thriller Impulse.
Based on the third novel in the “Jumper” series by Steven Gould, Impulse features 16-year-old Henrietta, aka Henry (Maddie Hasson) who discovers she has the ability to teleport. The first time she realizes this, she is in a truck with her high school’s Golden Boy, who tries to rape her. She has a seizure and teleports, in the course of which she inadvertently crushes him, leaving him a…

Sexual assault is at the center of  YouTube’s teleportation thriller Impulse. Based on the third novel in the “Jumper" series by Steven Gould, Impulse features 16-year-old Henrietta, aka Henry (Maddie Hasson) who discovers she has the ability to teleport. The first time she realizes this, she is in a truck with her high school’s Golden Boy, who tries to rape her. She has a seizure and teleports, in the course of which she inadvertently crushes him, leaving him a…

Gore Verbinski Exits as Director of ‘X-Men’ Spinoff ‘Gambit’

Gore Verbinski has stepped away from directing the “X-Men” spinoff “Gambit,” an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Channing Tatum stars in the film set for a Valentine’s Day 2019 release. Verbinski joined the project in October following Rupert Wyatt’s departure in October 2015 and Doug Liman in August 2016.

Tatum will play the titular mutant superhero, who wields a bo staff and can throw energy-charged cards at his enemies and was a member of a thieves guild before reforming and joining the X-Men.

Also Read: Lizzy Caplan to Join X-Men Universe in ‘Gambit’

In November, it was reported that Lizzy Caplan was in talks to star alongside Tatum in the film. She would play the female lead in the film, but specifics of her role were not disclosed.

“Gambit” is the last of four X-Men films currently in development at Fox. The other three, which will be released this year, are Josh Boone’s horror film “The New Mutants,” David Leitch’s “Untitled Deadpool Sequel,” and Simon Kinberg’s “X-Men: Dark Phoenix.”

Also Read: Next X-Men Solo Film ‘Gambit’ Set for Valentine’s Day 2019 Release

Josh Zetumer wrote the script for “Gambit,” while Tatum, Reid Carolin, Simon Kingberg and Lauren Shuler Donner are producing.

Verbinski last directed “A Cure for Wellness” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and is currently in pre-production on “Spaceless,” on which he also serves as producer. He is also serving as a producer on “The Last Son of Isaac Lemay” and “Bitterroot.”

Verbinski is represented by Anonymous Content, Slate PR and CAA.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Channing Tatum’s ‘Gambit’ Movie to Shoot in 2017, Simon Kinberg Says

Doug Liman in Talks to Direct Sniper Thriller ‘The Wall’ for Amazon Due to ‘Gambit’ Delay

Channing Tatum’s ‘Gambit’ Pushed From Fall 2016 Release Date

Gore Verbinski has stepped away from directing the “X-Men” spinoff “Gambit,” an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Channing Tatum stars in the film set for a Valentine’s Day 2019 release. Verbinski joined the project in October following Rupert Wyatt’s departure in October 2015 and Doug Liman in August 2016.

Tatum will play the titular mutant superhero, who wields a bo staff and can throw energy-charged cards at his enemies and was a member of a thieves guild before reforming and joining the X-Men.

In November, it was reported that Lizzy Caplan was in talks to star alongside Tatum in the film. She would play the female lead in the film, but specifics of her role were not disclosed.

“Gambit” is the last of four X-Men films currently in development at Fox. The other three, which will be released this year, are Josh Boone’s horror film “The New Mutants,” David Leitch’s “Untitled Deadpool Sequel,” and Simon Kinberg’s “X-Men: Dark Phoenix.”

Josh Zetumer wrote the script for “Gambit,” while Tatum, Reid Carolin, Simon Kingberg and Lauren Shuler Donner are producing.

Verbinski last directed “A Cure for Wellness” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and is currently in pre-production on “Spaceless,” on which he also serves as producer. He is also serving as a producer on “The Last Son of Isaac Lemay” and “Bitterroot.”

Verbinski is represented by Anonymous Content, Slate PR and CAA.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Channing Tatum's 'Gambit' Movie to Shoot in 2017, Simon Kinberg Says

Doug Liman in Talks to Direct Sniper Thriller 'The Wall' for Amazon Due to 'Gambit' Delay

Channing Tatum's 'Gambit' Pushed From Fall 2016 Release Date

How ‘Justice League’ Became a ‘Frankenstein’

“Justice League” had a lot of enemies: a looming corporate merger, a family tragedy, an internal clash between light and dark. But its greatest enemy was time.

Few people are happy with the finished project, which one insider called “a Frankenstein” made of the assembled parts favored by rotating executives and directors. But several people who spoke to TheWrap said the decision to keep the film’s Nov. 17 release date was a mistake — one as as plain as Superman’s face.

Specifically, the weird, computer-generated look of his face — just one byproduct of the film’s rushed schedule.  Here, according to insiders, is the story of how “Justice League” just ran out of time.

The Dark Knight

Despite the assembled might of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and The Flash, “Justice League” had Warner Bros.’ worst opening for a DC Comics-based in years. It’s easy to forget now, but the disappointment of “Justice League” began with success.

Also Read: Let’s Try to Piece Together What Zack Snyder’s Version of ‘Justice League’ Was Like

When Christopher Nolan completed his celebrated “Dark Knight” trilogy, a hyperreal re-imagining of Batman, Warner Bros. hoped he would turn next to rebooting Superman.

Burt Nolan opted out, instead supporting Zach Snyder to direct the Superman reboot “Man of Steel.” Like the Snyders, Nolan and his wife, producer Emma Thomas, made films together. They were about the same age. They got along.

Snyder seemed like a good fit. He had directed the comics adaptations “Watchmen” and the surprise hit “300,” the latter of which was inspired by the work of Frank Miller, who reinvented Batman with the 1980s stories “Year One” and “The Dark Knight Returns.”

Snyder appears to have enjoyed as much freedom in his vision of the DC Universe as Nolan had enjoyed with his Batman films. He answered to Greg Silverman, the Warner Bros. executive who guided hits like “The Dark Knight,” “The Hangover” and “300.” In 2013, Silverman was named Warner Bros. president, reporting directly to Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara.

An individual with deep knowledge of the studio said Silverman didn’t read offer notes on Snyder’s scripts. Another described Silverman’s attitude as “remarkably laissez faire.”

Also Read: ‘Justice League’ Do-Over? Petition for a Zack Snyder Cut Hits 100,000 Signatures

These qualities might have been praised if Snyder’s films were universally loved: Executives are usually criticized for meddling too much, not too little. No one complained that Nolan had too much freedom on “The Dark Knight.”

Silverman declined to comment.

Man of Steel

Snyder’s nihilistic tone may have made sense for Batman, a vigilante driven by grim determination. But many fans found it jarring for Superman, a character known for hope and optimism. When Superman broke an enemy’s neck at the end of 2013’s “Man of Steel,” many purists felt that Snyder had misunderstood the hero entirely, believing he would never stoop to the level of his evil adversaries.

The sequel, 2016’s “Batman v Superman,” was even darker. One insider called it “the darkest of the dark of the dark.” What could be darker than Superman killing? How about Superman dying? “Batman v Superman” ended with him in the grave.

“Batman v Superman” had scored the second-highest opening of 2016, behind only “Captain America: Civil War.” But the buzz was bad: After its $166 million opening weekend, second weekend totals dropped 69 percent to $51 million. Soon after, “Suicide Squad” disappointed with another grim, dystopian vision of the DC Universe.

“This just goes to show you how much the brand has eroded since ‘Batman v Superman.’ That was supposed to be the precursor to something even more momentous, but that never ended up happening because of how badly ‘BvS’ performed. The word of mouth has just been toxic,” said Jeff Bock, Senior Box Office Analyst at Exhibitor Relations.

Also Read: ‘Aquaman:’ Director James Wan Says His Film Won’t Copy the ‘Justice League’ Take on Atlantis

After the disappointment of “Batman v Superman,” the individual with deep knowledge of Warner Bros. said studio executives repeatedly went to Silverman to suggest removing Snyder from “Justice League.” The individual said DC President Jon Berg was sent to the set for the better part of a year to oversee the production out of budget concerns.

Warner Bros. declined comment for this story.

The insider said Silverman was “quite harsh on Zach” when “Batman v Superman” underwhelmed audiences. But he didn’t fire him: Removing a director is a major distraction on any film, and it would be a sign of serious trouble on a tentpole designed to support a larger universe.

“They were already in deep prep on ‘Justice League’ and it would have cost a fortune. There’s stickiness to a director because there’s so much cost to unstick him,” the insider said. “Warners is a studio that almost to a fault always wants to project strength.”

Asked who ultimately decided to keep Snyder on, the insider said: “It wasn’t Greg’s decision. This was all happening on a Tsujihara level.”

In December, Silverman stepped down stepped down as president of Warner Bros. Pictures, and was replaced by Toby Emmerich.

Light v. Dark

This is the part comic-book fans probably might not care about, but it’s crucial: In October of 2016, Warner Bros. announced plans to merge with AT&T, and the companies began sizing up each other’s assets and liabilities.

Moving the date of a tentpole film like “Justice League” could have projected weakness. A hit would project strength. And Warner Bros. expected a hit.

The studio had become vocal about wanting “Justice League” to have a light tone, like the one director Joss Whedon had struck for rival Disney’s Marvel Universe blockbuster superhero team-up “The Avengers.” Whedon was enlisted, with Snyder’s blessing, to help add some levity and fun to the script for “Justice League.”

In the spring, while Snyder and Warner Bros. were engaged in a push-pull over the right amount of light and darkness in “Justice League,” true tragedy struck.

Zack and Deborah Snyder’s daughter died by suicide.

At first, an insider said, the director’s plan was that “work was gonna be kind of a refuge.”

But then it wasn’t. Snyder was under added pressure because Warner Bros. was embracing “the lighter, different, more confectionary ideas of Joss,” the insider said. “It stopped being a good situation on any level.”

And so in May, Snyder left “Justice League” to focus on his family, and, eventually, a more personal project, the film “Last Photograph,” with Warners’ support.

And Whedon took over the project.

But time was running out.

The Merger and the Mustache

Soon after Snyder left “Justice League,” Warner Bros. got another sign that its movies didn’t have to be bleak: Patty Jenkin’s “Wonder Woman” shook off Snyder’s violent, monochromatic vision of the DC Universe with a fun, uplifting lead character, winning critical praise and performing above expectations at the box office.

Whedon had to choose between continuing Snyder’s vision or lightening up “Justice League” as much as he could.

Or at least, as much as he could by Nov. 17.

Scheduling was intense: “Superman” actor Henry Cavill, on loan from shooting “Mission: Impossible 6” for Paramount, was not allowed to shave a mustache he had grown for that film, so “Justice League” was forced to remove it digitally. Fans would later complain that his face looked weird.

One executive told TheWrap Tsujihara and Emmerich “wanted to preserve their bonuses they would be paid before the merger,” and were worried that “if they pushed the movie, then their bonuses would have been pushed to the following year and they might not still be at the studio.”

Another knowledgable insider said that at the highest levels of Warner Bros., bonuses are awarded “for making good decisions.” If delaying a film is the right decision, an executive could be rewarded for it.

Frankenstein  

The final version of “Justice League,” a compromise between Snyder’s vision and Whedon’s, left few people completely satisfied. (TheWrap’s Phil Owen recently studied the finished film to guess how much of the final vision belonged to each director.)

“I think Warner Bros. biggest misstep was not pushing the release of ‘Justice League’ when Snyder had to step aside,” the executive told TheWrap.

More than 100,000 fans agreed, by signing a petition calling on Warners to release Snyder’s version of the film.

But audiences weren’t wild about Snyder’s last pure Snyder film, either. For now, his rein over DC movies is over.

Matt Reeves is currently writing and steering “The Batman,” Jenkins recently closed a deal to return on the “Wonder Woman” sequel, to be set during the Cold War, and “Shazam” is under the guidance of “Lights Out” filmmaker David F. Sandberg.

Who can lead Warner Bros. out of the dark waters?

Aquaman, the studio hopes. The film, directed by James Wan, is due for release next December.

“Justice League” had a lot of enemies: a looming corporate merger, a family tragedy, an internal clash between light and dark. But its greatest enemy was time.

Few people are happy with the finished project, which one insider called “a Frankenstein” made of the assembled parts favored by rotating executives and directors. But several people who spoke to TheWrap said the decision to keep the film’s Nov. 17 release date was a mistake — one as as plain as Superman’s face.

Specifically, the weird, computer-generated look of his face — just one byproduct of the film’s rushed schedule.  Here, according to insiders, is the story of how “Justice League” just ran out of time.

The Dark Knight

Despite the assembled might of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and The Flash, “Justice League” had Warner Bros.’ worst opening for a DC Comics-based in years. It’s easy to forget now, but the disappointment of “Justice League” began with success.

When Christopher Nolan completed his celebrated “Dark Knight” trilogy, a hyperreal re-imagining of Batman, Warner Bros. hoped he would turn next to rebooting Superman.

Burt Nolan opted out, instead supporting Zach Snyder to direct the Superman reboot “Man of Steel.” Like the Snyders, Nolan and his wife, producer Emma Thomas, made films together. They were about the same age. They got along.

Snyder seemed like a good fit. He had directed the comics adaptations “Watchmen” and the surprise hit “300,” the latter of which was inspired by the work of Frank Miller, who reinvented Batman with the 1980s stories “Year One” and “The Dark Knight Returns.”

Snyder appears to have enjoyed as much freedom in his vision of the DC Universe as Nolan had enjoyed with his Batman films. He answered to Greg Silverman, the Warner Bros. executive who guided hits like “The Dark Knight,” “The Hangover” and “300.” In 2013, Silverman was named Warner Bros. president, reporting directly to Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara.

An individual with deep knowledge of the studio said Silverman didn’t read offer notes on Snyder’s scripts. Another described Silverman’s attitude as “remarkably laissez faire.”

These qualities might have been praised if Snyder’s films were universally loved: Executives are usually criticized for meddling too much, not too little. No one complained that Nolan had too much freedom on “The Dark Knight.”

Silverman declined to comment.

Man of Steel

Snyder’s nihilistic tone may have made sense for Batman, a vigilante driven by grim determination. But many fans found it jarring for Superman, a character known for hope and optimism. When Superman broke an enemy’s neck at the end of 2013’s “Man of Steel,” many purists felt that Snyder had misunderstood the hero entirely, believing he would never stoop to the level of his evil adversaries.

The sequel, 2016’s “Batman v Superman,” was even darker. One insider called it “the darkest of the dark of the dark.” What could be darker than Superman killing? How about Superman dying? “Batman v Superman” ended with him in the grave.

“Batman v Superman” had scored the second-highest opening of 2016, behind only “Captain America: Civil War.” But the buzz was bad: After its $166 million opening weekend, second weekend totals dropped 69 percent to $51 million. Soon after, “Suicide Squad” disappointed with another grim, dystopian vision of the DC Universe.

“This just goes to show you how much the brand has eroded since ‘Batman v Superman.’ That was supposed to be the precursor to something even more momentous, but that never ended up happening because of how badly ‘BvS’ performed. The word of mouth has just been toxic,” said Jeff Bock, Senior Box Office Analyst at Exhibitor Relations.

After the disappointment of “Batman v Superman,” the individual with deep knowledge of Warner Bros. said studio executives repeatedly went to Silverman to suggest removing Snyder from “Justice League.” The individual said DC President Jon Berg was sent to the set for the better part of a year to oversee the production out of budget concerns.

Warner Bros. declined comment for this story.

The insider said Silverman was “quite harsh on Zach” when “Batman v Superman” underwhelmed audiences. But he didn’t fire him: Removing a director is a major distraction on any film, and it would be a sign of serious trouble on a tentpole designed to support a larger universe.

“They were already in deep prep on ‘Justice League’ and it would have cost a fortune. There’s stickiness to a director because there’s so much cost to unstick him,” the insider said. “Warners is a studio that almost to a fault always wants to project strength.”

Asked who ultimately decided to keep Snyder on, the insider said: “It wasn’t Greg’s decision. This was all happening on a Tsujihara level.”

In December, Silverman stepped down stepped down as president of Warner Bros. Pictures, and was replaced by Toby Emmerich.

Light v. Dark

This is the part comic-book fans probably might not care about, but it’s crucial: In October of 2016, Warner Bros. announced plans to merge with AT&T, and the companies began sizing up each other’s assets and liabilities.

Moving the date of a tentpole film like “Justice League” could have projected weakness. A hit would project strength. And Warner Bros. expected a hit.

The studio had become vocal about wanting “Justice League” to have a light tone, like the one director Joss Whedon had struck for rival Disney’s Marvel Universe blockbuster superhero team-up “The Avengers.” Whedon was enlisted, with Snyder’s blessing, to help add some levity and fun to the script for “Justice League.”

In the spring, while Snyder and Warner Bros. were engaged in a push-pull over the right amount of light and darkness in “Justice League,” true tragedy struck.

Zack and Deborah Snyder’s daughter died by suicide.

At first, an insider said, the director’s plan was that “work was gonna be kind of a refuge.”

But then it wasn’t. Snyder was under added pressure because Warner Bros. was embracing “the lighter, different, more confectionary ideas of Joss,” the insider said. “It stopped being a good situation on any level.”

And so in May, Snyder left “Justice League” to focus on his family, and, eventually, a more personal project, the film “Last Photograph,” with Warners’ support.

And Whedon took over the project.

But time was running out.

The Merger and the Mustache

Soon after Snyder left “Justice League,” Warner Bros. got another sign that its movies didn’t have to be bleak: Patty Jenkin’s “Wonder Woman” shook off Snyder’s violent, monochromatic vision of the DC Universe with a fun, uplifting lead character, winning critical praise and performing above expectations at the box office.

Whedon had to choose between continuing Snyder’s vision or lightening up “Justice League” as much as he could.

Or at least, as much as he could by Nov. 17.

Scheduling was intense: “Superman” actor Henry Cavill, on loan from shooting “Mission: Impossible 6” for Paramount, was not allowed to shave a mustache he had grown for that film, so “Justice League” was forced to remove it digitally. Fans would later complain that his face looked weird.

One executive told TheWrap Tsujihara and Emmerich “wanted to preserve their bonuses they would be paid before the merger,” and were worried that “if they pushed the movie, then their bonuses would have been pushed to the following year and they might not still be at the studio.”

Another knowledgable insider said that at the highest levels of Warner Bros., bonuses are awarded “for making good decisions.” If delaying a film is the right decision, an executive could be rewarded for it.

Frankenstein  

The final version of “Justice League,” a compromise between Snyder’s vision and Whedon’s, left few people completely satisfied. (TheWrap’s Phil Owen recently studied the finished film to guess how much of the final vision belonged to each director.)

“I think Warner Bros. biggest misstep was not pushing the release of ‘Justice League’ when Snyder had to step aside,” the executive told TheWrap.

More than 100,000 fans agreed, by signing a petition calling on Warners to release Snyder’s version of the film.

But audiences weren’t wild about Snyder’s last pure Snyder film, either. For now, his rein over DC movies is over.

Matt Reeves is currently writing and steering “The Batman,” Jenkins recently closed a deal to return on the “Wonder Woman” sequel, to be set during the Cold War, and “Shazam” is under the guidance of “Lights Out” filmmaker David F. Sandberg.

Who can lead Warner Bros. out of the dark waters?

Aquaman, the studio hopes. The film, directed by James Wan, is due for release next December.

Like too many Scorsese imitations, Tom Cruise’s American Made wants for a worldview

Doug Liman and Tom Cruise, the director-actor team behind Edge Of Tomorrow (one of our favorite science-fiction movies of the last three-and-a-half-decades), have reunited for American Made, a years-spanning biopic about a real-life pilot who got drafted into both the CIA and a South American drug-smuggling operation.…

Read more…

Doug Liman and Tom Cruise, the director-actor team behind Edge Of Tomorrow (one of our favorite science-fiction movies of the last three-and-a-half-decades), have reunited for American Made, a years-spanning biopic about a real-life pilot who got drafted into both the CIA and a South American drug-smuggling operation.…

Read more...

Tom Cruise’s ‘American Made’ Flies to $960,000 at Thursday Box Office

Tom Cruise’s “American Made” grossed $960,000 at the Thursday box office from 2,455 theaters starting at 7 p.m.

The Universal film is expected to earn in the low to mid-teens this weekend. In comparison, Cruise’s previous action film, “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,”  earned $1.3 million at the previews before grossing $22.8 million its opening weekend. Of course, that film was based on a well-known book and was a sequel.

“American Made” follows a pilot who lands work for the CIA and as a drug runner during the 1980s. It was directed by Doug Liman and also stars Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright and Jesse Plemons.

Also Read: ‘American Made’ Review: Tom Cruise Flies Between Comedy and Tension, Missing Both

Should “American Made” earn in the mid-teens, it should place it at the No. 2 spot this weekend behind “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” which is expected to earn around $20 million its second weekend.

Sony is releasing “Flatliners” starring Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev and James Norton. The film did not hold Thursday previews.

Also Read: Ellen Page in Talks for Remake of Julia Roberts Thriller ‘Flatliners’

‘Flatliners,” directed by Niels Arden Oplev, is about five medical students who are obsessed with what lies beyond life. Therefore, they start experimenting, stopping their hearts for short periods to trigger a near death experience and show them the afterlife.

Other film offerings this weekend include” Steve Carell and Emma Stone’s “Battle of the Sexes,” “Til Death Do Us Part,” “Mark Felt,” “Judwaa 2” and “Youth.”

 

Related stories from TheWrap:

Watch Conan O’Brien, Tom Cruise Drive in Most Awkward Car Ride Ever (Video)

Tom Cruise Denies ‘Valkyrie’ Fake Butt Rumor: ‘No Prosthetic’

Danny Trejo Blasts Stars (Tom Cruise) Who Do Their Own Risky Stunts

Tom Cruise’s “American Made” grossed $960,000 at the Thursday box office from 2,455 theaters starting at 7 p.m.

The Universal film is expected to earn in the low to mid-teens this weekend. In comparison, Cruise’s previous action film, “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,”  earned $1.3 million at the previews before grossing $22.8 million its opening weekend. Of course, that film was based on a well-known book and was a sequel.

“American Made” follows a pilot who lands work for the CIA and as a drug runner during the 1980s. It was directed by Doug Liman and also stars Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright and Jesse Plemons.

Should “American Made” earn in the mid-teens, it should place it at the No. 2 spot this weekend behind “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” which is expected to earn around $20 million its second weekend.

Sony is releasing “Flatliners” starring Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev and James Norton. The film did not hold Thursday previews.

‘Flatliners,” directed by Niels Arden Oplev, is about five medical students who are obsessed with what lies beyond life. Therefore, they start experimenting, stopping their hearts for short periods to trigger a near death experience and show them the afterlife.

Other film offerings this weekend include” Steve Carell and Emma Stone’s “Battle of the Sexes,” “Til Death Do Us Part,” “Mark Felt,” “Judwaa 2” and “Youth.”

 

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