Entertainment

Ben Affleck to direct standalone Batman film: Warner Bros. chief

Ben Affleck will direct a stand-alone Batman movie, confirmed Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara during the studio's presentation at CinemaCon, an annual gathering of theatre owners in Las Vegas.

Studio unveils footage from DC films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Me Before You

Actor-filmmaker Ben Affleck, seen in Beijing promoting Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in March, is confirmed to direct a forthcoming solo Batman film. (Ng Han Guan/Associated Press)

Ben Affleck will direct a stand-alone Batman movie, says Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara.

Affleck portrayed the caped crusader in this year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and had been rumoured to be the studio's top choice to helm the film.

Tsujihara confirmed they were moving forward with him in the director's seat Tuesday at CinemaCon, an annual gathering of theatre owners in Las Vegas.

The stand-alone Batman feature is part of Warner Bros. plans for an expanded DC Comics cinematic universe, similar to that of the Disney and Marvel collaboration.

Warner Bros. has at least 10 features in the works, including Suicide SquadWonder Woman and Justice League. Unsurprisingly, those films comprised a major portion of Warner Bros.' presentation, signaling that the studio is moving forward energetically with its original plans despite reports that perhaps Batman v Superman is not performing as well at the box office as the studio would have liked.

Affleck, who is also directing Live By Night for the studio, made an appearance with Amy Adams, who plays Lois Lane. He confirmed that both would be joining Zack Snyder's Justice League, which is currently in production in London.

Production for Justice League, uniting actors Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck's Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, is currently under way. (DC/Warner Bros/YouTube)

Suicide Squad director David Ayer and stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie were on hand as well to hype the supervillains gone straight pic, which launches on Aug. 5 with intense footage focusing heavily on Robbie's Harley Quinn.

Warner Bros. also trotted out stars and footage from a number of their upcoming films including the Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemThe Lego Batman Movie, the Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling comedy The Nice Guys, and the Emilia Clarke romantic drama Me Before You.

Focus on filmmakers, theatrical presentation 

But beyond the individual films, a big focus was the studio's ongoing commitment to its filmmakers and the specialness of theatrical presentation.

The threat of The Screening Room, a proposed at-home viewing experience of first-run movies, has loomed large over the annual conference where theatre owners come not just to check out the new studio slates and mingle with stars, but to see the latest technologies that promise to enhance the theatrical experience for audiences.

Major filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson have come out in support of the service, but the industry on the whole remains divided.

Filmmaker J.J. Abrams accepts the showman of the year award at CinemaCon 2016 in Las Vegas on Monday. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press)

"I assure you we are not going to let a third party or middle man come between us," Tsujihara told the audience of exhibitors.

"When there are new technologies ... we will explore them with each of you. We know the status quo is not an option."

Not every studio has taken a hard stand. On Monday, Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams — a Screening Room backer — urged the conference to be open-minded about innovations.

Hangover director Todd Phillips on Tuesday, however, came out strongly against the idea of the Screening Room without mentioning it directly while promoting his new Jonah Hill and Miles Teller comedy War Dogs.

"Why are we in such a rush to turn movies into television? It doesn't make sense to me. Movies are special," Phillips said.

"We need to do everything we can to protect that part of the experience."

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