Geoff Johns is stepping down as DC Entertainment president and chief creative officer, Variety has learned. He will be transitioning to a new role and will be given some sort of writing and producing deal with DC Comics and Warner Bros. to cushion his landing.
The move comes days after news broke that Diane Nelson is leaving as head of DC Entertainment following a long sabbatical. It also takes place amidst a larger shakeup in the way that DC is approaching its moviemaking operations.
Following Johns’ departure, DC Entertainment publisher Jim Lee will expand his role to include the chief creative officer title.
Johns was one of the rare executives who not only produced comic book movies, he also authored the graphic novels and series that inspired them. Under his new deal, one of Johns’ first film projects will be “Green Lantern Corps,” which is based on a bestselling series that he oversaw. He will write and be a producer on the film.
Johns’ ouster has been rumored for some time. In January, Warner Bros., DC’s corporate sibling, promoted Walter Hamada to oversee its comic book movies. Hamada supplanted Johns, who the studio said would continue to advise on the creative direction of the film productions. As part of that shift, Jon Berg also exited as the co-head of the DC movies to become a production partner with Roy Lee, the producer of “The Lego Movie” and “It.”
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Johns is a respected creative talent, known for his prodigious knowledge of comic book lore and his deep ties to the fanboy community. That hasn’t translated into successful movies, however.
DC’s film division has struggled to match the track record of rival Marvel, which keeps releasing one blockbuster after another as its cinematic universe of costumed heroes continues to grow. DC did hit the zeitgeist with last summer’s “Wonder Woman,” but struck out with last fall’s “Justice League,” an embarrassing film flop that Johns produced. Other recent efforts such as “Suicide Squad” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” did well at the box office, but were critically excoriated.
Johns co-wrote and executive produced “Aquaman,” which will debut globally on Dec. 21. He is also writing and executive producing the second installment of the “Wonder Woman” franchise. That film hits theaters in November 2019.
Johns’ new company will be named Mad Ghost Productions.