Although it’s not on the Warner Bros release calendar until June 23, 2023, The Lightning becomes Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s first film crisis, due to escalating coverage of incidents of erratic and odd behavior involving the film’s star, Ezra Miller.
Zaslav has made clear his desire to expand the DC Universe to MCU scale, and he has all the ingredients for a first foot forward The Lightningincluding the return of Michael Keaton as Batman along with a reprise of Ben Affleck, a $200 million budget and a hot director in Andy Muschietti, who delivered the blockbuster It for the studio. The Warner Bros Discovery CEO exercised his well-known penchant for micromanagement by turning down the green light Miracle Twins for being too niche. So Zaslav soon has to decide what to do with the finished picture The Lightningand what to do with a young actor who appears to be having serious off-set problems.
Deadline has heard the studio has been trying to get help for Miller, but the troubling headlines keep piling up. Could you send a potential culprit on a global publicity spree and use the actor as the host of a major studio franchise play?
Zaslav has several options and he will hit one of them soon. Among other things: He may step down to heavily promote the summer 2023 film, limiting it to P&A and no promotional tour. Or he can point it to streaming with HBO Max and write it down. Or bend over to make the movie a hit, then dump Miller when he can’t fix things. Warner Bros did that when it dropped Johnny Depp from the Grindelwald character in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, following the actor’s well-publicized unsuccessful lawsuit in the UK; The studio replaced Depp with Mads Mikkelsen in the family franchise.
“There’s no profit for Warner Bros,” a studio source tells us, “that’s an inherited problem for Zaslav. We hope scandal stays low before the film’s release and hope the best comes out.” In Zaslav’s plan to make DC an explosively successful division like Marvel under his restructured studio, with a new one of his own Chief, the non-binary identifier Miller, we hear that it’s just not a part of these plans going forward in the future universe, whether there are more allegations or not.
The latest round of unflattering headlines has come twice for 29-year-old Miller in the last two weeks. The daily beast reported that this week there was a temporary preventive harassment order from a 12-year-old and a mother in Greenfield, Massachusetts, against the actor after Miller allegedly threatened her family and behaved inappropriately towards the non-binary child.
Last week, the parents of an 18-year-old named Tokata Iron Eyes filed filings asking a judge to issue a protective order against the actor on their child’s behalf, saying Miller groomed and brainwashed Tokata.
“Ezra uses violence, intimidation, threats of violence, fear, paranoia, delusions, and drugs to control young Tokata,” according to the filing, which was obtained from multiple outlets.
The 18-year-old’s parents say the two met at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota when their child was just 12 years old. The parents claim Miller gave Tokata alcohol and drugs, flown the child to London and places like Vermont, New York. California and Hawaii. Last week, Miller deleted his Instagram account in response to the North Dakota Tribals’ subpoena; The actor reportedly mocked authorities about her whereabouts.
Tokata posted a video on Instagram defending Miller.
“It’s nobody’s business and nobody is owed a story or an outcome,” Tokata said in the two-minute video. “This is my life and these are my choices and I am disappointed in my parents and the press – in every way.”
Prior to the recent news of Tokata’s parents’ allegations against Miller, the actor was arrested twice for dusting at a karaoke bar in Hawaii in March, followed by an arrest for second-degree assault at an apartment building for allegedly throwing a chair at one Woman at a private party Miller attended and cut her forehead. During the first incident, the Hawaii Police Department’s Hilo Patrol reported that Miller became “excited” when patrons began chanting “Shallow.” A star Is Born.
“Miller began yelling profanities and at one point grabbed the microphone of a 23-year-old woman singing karaoke (disorderly conduct offense) and later lunged at a 32-year-old man playing darts (harassment offense). The bar owner has pleaded with Miller to “calm down” multiple times, to no avail.” The actor was arrested and charged with both offenses with $500 bail. Bail was posted and Miller was released.
Two days later, the couple, who lived in a hostel with Miller, filed a restraining order against the actor after Miller returned home from the karaoke bar, reportedly threatening to “bury” her. Miller reportedly stole the woman’s passport and the man’s wallet. The injunction was lifted in mid-April.
An even more disturbing incident occurred in April 2020: A video went viral that appeared to show Miller choking a woman and throwing her to the floor at a bar in Reykjavik, Iceland, an incident that happened after Miller was involved in intrusive fans had been confronted with. Miller was escorted out of the venue.
Born in Wyckoff, New Jersey, Miller’s career began to thrive with a move to Showtime calibration and to play a sociopathic murderous teenager in the critically acclaimed Lynne Ramsay film We need to talk about Kevin. Other notable credits followed The perks of Being a Wallflower and The Stanford Prison Experiment before Miller landed the role of The Flash in Zack Snyders Batman vs Superman. Miller, who displayed a sharp energy and humor, repeated himself justice league. Miller also worked with Warner Bros. in the Fantastic Beasts Trilogy as Credence Barebone.
Warner Bros has so far declined to comment on Miller or where these mounting incidents will leave the studio and the actor’s future. Deadline has contacted Miller’s legal counsel and will let them know if they have any statements regarding the recent restraining orders against the actor.