The fate of Warner Bros.’ The Flash hangs in the balance as actor Ezra Miller continues to make headlines for their controversial behavior and various arrests. An outright shelving of the film is not off the table, though it would be a last resort.
Warners — and its new parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery — had hoped to avoid the line of fire, because its big-budget DC superhero tentpole isn’t scheduled to hit theaters until June 23, 2023. But the pressure is mounting by the day.
On Monday, the actor was charged with a felony burglary, and on Wednesday, Rolling Stone reported that Vermont’s child services department is attempting to locate a mother and three children who have allegedly been residing at Miller’s farm in the state.
A source with knowledge of the situation says the studio appears to be preparing for three possible scenarios.
First, Warners has received indications that the 29-year-old Miller, whose mother has accompanied the actor in recent days, will seek professional help after returning home to their farm in Vermont after being away. If that help happens, Miller, who goes by they/them pronouns, could give an interview at some point explaining their erratic behavior over the past few years. The actor could then do limited press for The Flash, and the movie would open in cinemas as planned.
The second scenario: Even if Miller doesn’t reach out for help, Warners could still release the film. But don’t expect Miller to play a prominent role in terms of marketing and publicity. Nor would Miller be The Flash going forward, as the role would be recast in future projects.
The third case: Things go from bad to worse, with the situation with Miller deteriorating. This would see Warners killing the movie outright, as it could not be reshot with a different actor. Miller plays multiple characters and is in almost every scene. Scrapping a $200 million film would be an unprecedented move.
All of this comes amid change at Warners. Earlier this month, newly minted Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav stunned Hollywood when shelving Batgirl, a $90 million movie made for HBO Max. Unlike The Flash, there was no individual controversy involved; rather Zaslav opted to take a tax write-down on the project and pivot away from making streaming films for DC.
Miller was cast as The Flash in 2014, the same year a solo The Flash film was announced. The development process has been long, with multiple directors coming and going over the years until It filmmaker Andy Muschietti finally got the project off the ground. The film also stars Michael Keaton, back as Batman for the first time in 30 years, and Ben Affleck as a different version of Batman.
Miller began their time as The Flash with cameos in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, both released in 2016, before having a main role in Justice League a year later.
The Flash is a key film for Warners, as it is expected to chart a new course for the DC Extended Universe. The film has been testing well, even as Miller’s legal woes continue to mount.
Earlier this week, word broke that they have been charged with felony burglary for allegedly stealing bottles of alcohol from a Vermont home. According to a police report posted online, Vermont State Police were notified May 1 of a potential burglary when residents on County Road in Stamford, Vermont, reported that “several bottles of alcohol were taken from within the residence while the homeowners were not present.” Following an investigation that included taking statements and reviewing surveillance videos, police found probable cause to charge Miller.
The latest charge comes after Miller was arrested in April in Hawaii and booked on suspicion of second-degree assault, per the Hawaii Island Police Department. The incident reportedly occurred when Miller was attending a get-together at a private residence and “became irate after being asked to leave and reportedly threw a chair, striking a 26-year-old female on the forehead,” per police.
That came on the heels of a March arrest on charges of disorderly conduct and harassment following an incident at a karaoke bar in Hilo, Hawaii.
At least one project has already distanced itself from Miller. On Tuesday, the Salvador Dali Biopic Daliland left Miller out of its press release in an announcement about its debut at the Toronto Film Festival. The actor plays a young version of the artist in the project, which stars Ben Kingsley as an older version.
Despite the arrests and headlines about Miller’s alleged behavior, Warner Bros. Discovery chief Zaslav said last week that the studio is committed to theatrical releases for a number of DC films including The Flash.
“We’ve seen them. We think they are terrific, and we think we can make them even better,” Zaslav said of DC’s upcoming slate, including The Flash.
CAA, which represents Miller, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.