Geoff Johns Exits DC Entertainment for Writing and Producing Deal (Exclusive)

Geoff Johns and Jim Lee- Courtesy DC Entertainment-H 2018
Courtesy of DC Entertainment
Current DC publisher Jim Lee will assume the chief creative officer position.

DC Entertainment president and chief creative officer Geoff Johns — who went from authoring comic books to having a major hand in the making of movies and television shows based on famous heroes — is stepping down from his executive post and entering into an exclusive writer-producer deal with Warner Bros. and DC, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. 

Johns is launching Mad Ghost Productions, a new banner that will see him work on content for films, television and comic books, and have his hand in current DC properties as well as new and reimagined creations.

At the same time, current DC Entertainment publisher Jim Lee will assume the chief creative officer position, taking on the duties while continuing to act as publisher with Dan DiDio. The two have jointly held the post since 2010.

The moves come in the wake of last week’s exit of Diane Nelson, DC Entertainment’s president, to whom Johns reported, and occurs the day before a judge’s decision will be announced in the high-profile antitrust trial between the U.S. Department of Justice and AT&T, which is seeking to merge with Time Warner, the parent company of both Warner Bros. and DC.

It also takes place as Warners’ movie division is in the midst of a transition as Walter Hamada, who was installed as president of DC-based films at the studio by Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich in January, begins to shape the superhero slate in the post-Justice League era.

Johns now goes from the executive ranks back to the creative world, a realm which he never truly left. Even as he was promoted to DC Entertainment president in 2016 and retained the title of chief creative officer, which he had held since 2010, he continued to pen some of DC’s biggest books. And, more impactfully, he was key in launching the TV empire based on DC’s heroes, co-developing The CW’s most successful superhero show, The Flash, and, with Peter Roth and WBTV, launching Supergirl and Black Lightning, among many others.

The move in essense unshackles Johns from the boardroom and positions him to be a major force and supplier of content just as Warners' need and audience demand for that sort of material rises like a mercury on steroids.

"I took on a role at DCE because I love the characters and this universe more than anything. But, I want to spend my days writing and on set," Johns said Monday in a statement. "I’m thrilled to get back to a more hands-on creative role. It’s a dream job on dream projects, reaching even deeper into DC’s vast pantheon of characters."

One of Johns' first projects will be Green Lantern Corps, based on DC’s intergalactic police heroes, which he is already very familiar with, having spent nine years writing Green Lantern comics and its spinoffs and publishing events. Johns will write the screenplay and act as one of the producers on the feature film. He is already writing and producing Wonder Woman 2 and will have a co-writing and executive producing credit on Aquaman, this year's only DC offering, which is set to open in December.

"Geoff is a super-talented writer and truly embedded in the DC Universe and its characters," said Emmerich. "We’re thrilled that he’s returning to his passion and his roots as a writer and producer. And, it’s even better that he’s staying in our Warner Bros. family. We look forward to working with him on Green Lantern and other projects going forward."

On the television side, Johns co-developed and is executive producing (alongside Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Jeremy Carver) and writing on Titans, the first original series for the upcoming DC Universe digital service. Johns also wrote the Titans episode "Doom Patrol" that it is spinning out into its own 13-episode original series for the digital service.

On the publishing side, Johns will write and curate a DC pop-up label under the moniker The Killing Zone, focusing on new and lesser-known or dormant DC characters and titles. He will also write a new Shazam comic series, scheduled to bow this fall, as well as a comic titled Three Jokers, drawn by Jason Fabok. The latter was a project that was sidelined as Johns’ time was taken up by executive and screen commitments.

“Geoff is one of DC Comics’ most prolific writers, and we can’t wait to see what he does next now that he will be dedicating 100 percent of his time to telling the best DC stories possible across all media," said DiDio and Lee.