Founded by brothers Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack on Hollywood's Sunset Strip in 1918, Warner Bros is, perhaps, of all of the six majors, the one most readily-associated with quality.
Built on sustained relationships with key filmmakers, the studio today has long-standing deals with the likes of Clint Eastwood (who hit biggest for them with American Sniper a couple of years back), Christopher Nolan (who delivered them the Batman trilogy as well as Inception and Interstellar), David Yates (who did the last four Harry Potter movies and the soon-to-be-released The Legend Of Tarzan and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them), Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone, The Town, Argo and the about-to-shoot standalone Batman movie) and Zack Snyder (who will soon roll cameras on The Justice League movie, having cut his Warners teeth with 300, Man Of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice).
Pic credit: Warner Bros
While it’s unlikely that Clint’s catalogue will figure highly in this new Warner Bros theme park – as much as we would love to see a Gran Torino ride, where you have to stand on Clint’s lawn and not get shot in the face – the studio's catalogue coupled with its upcoming slate offers vast scope for massive movie attractions. Not least of which would be…
The Justice League
It's no news that every major studio is trying to ape the megabuck Marvel model, but of all of them Warner Bros is easily the best placed. Where Marvel have slowly, ahem, assembled an entire universe of characters to spin movies around (aka the MCU, the Marvel Cinematic Universe), so too have Warners, albeit with less critically successful results. Still, scathing reviews apart, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice did a decent job of introducing the Justice League’s major players to audiences, the likes of Wonder Woman, Aquaman and The Flash popping up to say hi in-between the titular heroes’ rampant fisticuffs. Throw in The Suicide Squad, which will be released this August and is already getting serious buzz, and Warners have a whole host of DC characters to build a world both movie and physical around.
King Kong & Godzilla
Speaking of apeing, there is also the not-so-small matter of King Kong. And Godzilla. The former will be back on screen in next March’s Kong: Skull Island, with Tom Hiddleston in hot pursuit. The latter will see original director Gareth Edwards return (after he has finished the next Star Wars movie, Rogue One) to shoot a Godzilla sequel, before – box office depending, of course – both will knock heads together in 2020’s Godzilla vs Kong, effectively Warner's Jurassic World. And if you can’t build a ride around a massive lovesick ape and an angry lizard nuclear analogy then you may as well not have come to the races in the first place.
The film series of the book series that raked in $10 billion (and that’s just in box office receipts) for Warner Bros will return on screen this November with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. That movie, written by J.K. Rowling herself and directed by Potter hero David Yates, is a prequel set 70 years before the wizardy larks of Harry, Hermione and the other one, and will reboot the franchise for a whole new generation. And it’s not like the last generation has really gone anywhere either, with two Potter-themed themeparks already in operation in London and Orlando. Given the lessons that can be learned from those two first drafts, plus the whole host of new characters that Fantastic Beasts will bring into play at the end of the year, the potential here is huge.
Tarzan & The Jungle Book
No, not that Jungle Book. Previously up against Disney’s live-action The Jungle Book (in cinemas, to great critical acclaim, now), Warner’s adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling classic is a joint partnership between themselves and The Imaginarium Studios. Those studios are the brainchild of Gollum himself, Andy Serkis, the king of motion-capture, who is directing, starring and mo-capping everyone together for a movie he claims will “push technology further than it ever has been”. That movie has now been pushed back to October 2018 – to allow him more time in post, according to Serkis – while The Legend Of Tarzan (another David Yates joint) will hit this July, starring the ridiculously attractive central pairing of Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie (him Tarzan, her Jane). Given both are jungle-based epics, a shared world wouldn’t be the daftest idea.
Two duff sequels and then pretty much the entire future career of the Wachowski siblings (Cloud Atlas apart) make it easy to forget just how revolutionary, exciting, world-building and beloved the original Matrix was. That movie arrived in 1999, the year everyone was expecting another sci-fi movie to rewrite the rulebook. Unfortunately, that one was The Phantom Menace, leaving it to Neo and co to establish a new bar in science fiction moviemaking that would be an ideal fit for a themepark. Immersing yourself in the very Matrix itself? Woah, dudes.
The rights issues are complicated, but given that Warner Bros, Peter Jackson and co turned a flimsy book into a nine-hour on screen walk – with added dragons – you can only imagine what an immersive world they could create here. Anyone for a trip to Rivendell? (Big hairy feet shoes not included.)