Every studio in Hollywood is clamoring to stay ahead in the franchise and reboot game currently dominating the silver screen, with Warner Bros. being no exception. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this race for franchise dominance has spelled issues for the studio’s upcoming 2016 releases, particularly for their live-action Tarzan reboot directed by Harry Potter filmmaker David Yates and starring Alexander Skarsgard (HBO’s True Blood) as the titular vine-swinger.
The biggest issue the film is facing involves another WB release, the Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which Yates began shooting with star Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and the remaining large ensemble back in August. Yates had to move on to this project before editing and production were able to close on Tarzan, causing the director to now dance back and forth between the two projects.
Another factor for Warner Bros. is their recent box office flop with Pan, another wilderness adventurer reboot that was meant to serve as a family franchise in the vein of the HP series. With a $150 million budget and a meager $15.3 million box office return, the studio looks to be losing nearly their entire production budget on the film. Clearly, not every reboot is going to be a home run, and in this case Warner Bros. payed the hefty price. It therefore makes sense that the studio would be placing priority on Fantastic Beasts at this time as the film will already have a built in fanbase from HP runoff, whereas in the case of Tarzan, they are nearly going in blind.
What Tarzan does have going for it, however, is an all-star cast comprised of Skarsgard, Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad), Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes), and Samuel L. Jackson (Kingsman: The Secret Service). A live-action rendering of the tale has also not seen movie screens for at least several decades, whereas the Peter Pan story has long been popular in both film and television. Yates’ Tarzan will see the ape-raised eponymous hero acclimated to civilized life in London when a new threat in his former jungle home calls him back to the adventures of the wild. The first test screenings for the film reportedly didn’t go well, but there is still a lot of work needed to be done before it hits theaters.
In the meantime, Warner Bros. still has a July 1, 2016 release date set for the film with Fantastic Beasts to follow in November. The studio also has utmost confidence in Yates’ ability to deliver on both films. We will have more on Tarzan as it develops.