DCU more important than ever to the studio

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200808181345 DCU more important than ever to the studio
Given THE DARK KNIGHT’s history-making box office performance, it’s unthinkable for DC’s superheroes to remain the wallflowers of the Warner universe. Not one but TWO stories in Variety on Friday pointed this out.

The first puts DC’s superheroes into the wider picture of Warner’s release schedule:

It’s a tentpole whose supersized budget for top talent, lavish action sequences and special effects can pay off big time by selling a helluva lot of tickets — and raking in the dough for other divisions, including TV, homevid, merchandise and vidgames.

If Warners got its way, it would have at least four of those blockbusters a year. Yet the studio is light on tentpoles next summer. Make that most of 2009.


With nothing but the Green Arrow prison drama directly on tap, things look so thin that HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE had to be moved to Summer ’09 to prevent this year’s Batman-led profits from completely shaming next year’s more modest slate. Here then is the problem: WB’s development feeder.

The other article is a more direct look at what will be done with this potential gold mine of superheroes:

The Time Warner comic-book arm is sitting on a stable of well-known superhero properties like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Justice League, but has been slow to develop the bigscreen adventures.

Getting the movies made would involve many of Warner Bros.’ other divisions — including TV, homevid, consumer products, online and vidgames — that would create tie-in projects for release around the films.

“They need a lot of lead time and it all needs to be choreographed,” Robinov says.

Yet with the dearth of tentpoles next year, those same divisions will have little to work with and will have to focus on more classic product like Looney Tunes.


In other words, the way forward isn’t yet clear. The article quotes WB studio head Alan Horn and production head Jeff Robinov, along with DC’s main movie man, Gregory Noveck, senior VP of creative affairs.
Noveck hasn’t yet emerged as the kind of Avi Arad-like figure who can convert lines on paper to lines in the theater. Robinov may be too preoccupied with larger studio matters to specifically oversee DC’s development.

What this article clearly suggests is that some changes will be made in the way DC movies are moved through the pipeline.

“We’re having a lot of internal discussions on it,” Horn says. “We haven’t committed to any change at DC at this point,” adding that both Warners and DC are committed to turning “the properties into viable movie product in an intelligent way so that we introduce them like planes on a runway. They have to be set up the right way and lined up the right way and all take off one at a time and fly safe and fly straight.”

Comments

  1. Hilariass says:

    Noveck is a cross eyed freak, hated by EVERY DC Creator and ignored by Hollywood.
    If you somehow think he is the solution you are Crazeee. He is a part of the problem.

  2. rev'D says:

    Shorter Time/Warner press release:

    “We remain addicted to ridiculous amounts of short-term profit at the expense of actual risk or creativity and are fully prepared to damn our own publishing subsidiaries to the same ignoble fate.”

    The bar in which I work is owned by White Wolf; as a result I’ve had occasion to eavesdrop conversations between the CEO and his affiliates. I’ve repeatedly heard the CEO demand that W.W. properties be properly ‘exploited’– without ever considering that the seeming necessity of said exploitation is caused by the company’s own lack of willingness to take risks, and apparently without any awareness that the limited success of such exploitation will invariably spiral down into regular scattershots of unimaginative pap churned out for ever-smaller returns…

    Much like every event comic for the last few decades.

  3. Heidi; you need to fix the beginning of the first graf…

  4. brett says:

    Noveck? Isn’t he the guy who put the New Teen Titans direct to animated movie on hold because as he claims ‘there isn’t enough fan support’?

    I read somewhere when he was asked how this was determined, he stated that whenever fans are asked which is the next DC animated film they want to see, Titans is always at the bottom of the list with more Superman and Batman topping the list.

    ???

    What I’d like to know is when the heck did Mr Noveck start polling fans about their animated films? I’ve never seen one and at most conventions, New Teen Titans Judas Contract is always brought up, requested and mentioned including in all their online promotions for other Direct to Animated film announcements like… Wonder Woman.

    Glad to know he’s listening to the fans who requested more Supes and Bats.

    I also heard that they’d like to do Creeper and Dr Fate as animated films. Because there’s so much more fan support for the Creeper and Dr Fate that there are for New Teen Titans.

    Noveck = Solution?

    No wonder Warner can’t get more DC heroes onto the big screen.

  5. I vote for Jimmy Palmiotti.

    Oops. Wrong gig.

  6. “They have to be set up the right way and lined up the right way and all take off one at a time and fly safe and fly straight.”

    Or, you could do it the old fashioned way … stay the hell out of the creative team’s way, let them produce a good film, set a release date, and then start marketing it.

    Noveck’s comment seems a bit condescending.

  7. “Richard Pachter Says:

    08/18/08 at 2:51 pm
    I vote for Jimmy Palmiotti.”

    That’s the beauty of Jimmy: he’s qualified for most of these slots.

  8. Dear god, perhaps high tides at WB will lift more boats.
    Wonder Woman your time is up, step forward, please.

  9. Torsten Adair says:

    Interesting… Watchmen is not considered a tent pole…

    What I would like to see: smaller movies of the lesser known, but interesting DC or Marvel superheroes. Something like Blade.

  10. Sphinx Magoo says:

    I agree with Torsten Adair. Not every filmable property in the DC stable is a member of the Justice League.

  11. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I get a tent pole just thinking about it.

  12. I for one would love to see the original Goodwin and Simonson MANHUNTER as a movie….

    A kung fu chopping, kicking, gun blasting, pulpy masterpiece of action…

  13. Or, you could do it the old fashioned way … stay the hell out of the creative team’s way, let them produce a good film, set a release date, and then start marketing it.

    When did Hollywood ever work this way?

  14. Torsten Adair says:

    Hey… how many DC/Vertigo properties have been optioned? Where’s the Wonder Twins movie? Orbiter? Preacher?

    Heck… grab $10 Million, a few decent actors, and make Proposition Player!

    Or use Smallville as a backdoor pilot/screen test.

  15. Torsten – wasn’t the Wonder Twins movie a April Fool’s joke that Paul Dini and Alex Ross came up with?

    Me? I would opt for a movie based on Denny O’ Neil and Denys Cowan’s run on the Question –

    and maybe a Atom and Hawkman team up adventure.

    Phantom Stranger?

    Challengers of the Unknown?

    Or perhaps Deadman?

    ~

    Coat

  16. If WB ever gets going with DC movies, get ready for a lot of s****y movies.
    Exhibit A: Steel.
    Exhibit B: Catwoman.
    (I’m not saying either was doomed from the start, but the amount of film making effort put into both are examples of how seriously WB takes the source material)
    Exhibit C: Had any of you ever heard of Greg Berlanti before he was involved in the Green Lantern movie?

  17. Torsten Adair says:

    The biggest problem, once a film is greenlit, is dealing with the fanboy speculation. Everyone wonders how will soandso will perform or direct.
    I think if written the right way, with a small budget, that a Wonder Twins movie would be successful. The property is well known. One can make the movie without superheroes at all.
    The other nobrainer? Damage Control. A private company which cleans up after superheroes? $$$!

  18. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Angelina Jolie and her creepy brother/awards show date from a few years back would have been good Wonder Twins.

  19. Tom + Heidi = Wonder Twins!

  20. Jon in Austin says:

    This is typical big-company-itis. I worked for a large computer company for 10 years, and it was clear that when you have to “choreograph” a new product, it takes years to deliver and the result is weak because the choreographer has to compromise so that key senior execs in each division can be happy. For the most part, Marvel doesn’t appear to have this challenge; they are much smaller and therefore more focused and nimble than Time Wamer.

    Personal opinion (with no data to support it) is that the current comics version of Dr. Fate or Creeper would make for terrible live-action movies. Manhunter, Captain Marvel/Shazam, and even Plastic Man (with Seth Rogen as Woozy Winks) would be a lot of fun.

  21. Or maybe DC / Time / Warner could make their audiences happy by commissioning NEW ORIGINAL WORK instead of wasting time dicking around with precious (and quite frankly, exhausted) trademarks.

    Imagine: new films and/or comics that have NOTHING to do with 50+ years of continuity– that way, you can go to a film or read a book and actually risk being surprised by a story, as opposed to picking which plots points and/or character motivations were lifted from which work, a la ‘The Dark Knight’.

    I want fresh fiction, not “new products”.

  22. “When did Hollywood ever work this way?”

    It has happened … rarely …

    For one thing, most movie companies want to MAKE and DISTRIBUTE movies of their most popular products. Warner Bros. wants to “line them up” and then “fly them safely,” but that still doesn’t give us a movie.

  23. “Personal opinion (with no data to support it) is that the current comics version of Dr. Fate or Creeper would make for terrible live-action movies. Manhunter, Captain Marvel/Shazam, and even Plastic Man (with Seth Rogen as Woozy Winks) would be a lot of fun.”

    Well, then … make GOOD movie of Dr. Fate or The Creeper. I’m sure everyone felt the same way about BLADE a decade ago.

  24. brett says:

    “Exhibit C: Had any of you ever heard of Greg Berlanti before he was involved in the Green Lantern movie?”

    Yes, he made a movie called The Broken Hearts Club and he’s also executive producer of Brothers and Sisters, Dirty-Sexy-Money for ABC and a couple of other projects that elude me at the moment.

    BTW — You forgot ‘Constantine’ to add to the WB list. That flick’s right up there with Catwoman and Steel.

  25. brett says:

    “Exhibit C: Had any of you ever heard of Greg Berlanti before he was involved in the Green Lantern movie?”

    Yes, he made a movie called The Broken Hearts Club and he’s also executive producer of Brothers and Sisters, Dirty-Sexy-Money for ABC and a couple of other projects that elude me at the moment.

    BTW — You forgot ‘Constantine’ to add to the WB list. That flick’s right up there with Catwoman and Steel.

  26. Jon in Austin says:

    Check out today’s Wall Street Journal, front page of the “Marketplace” section, page, B1…”Warner Bets on Fewer, Bigger Movies” is all about their super-hero strategy. They are going to pursue a strategy that’s similar to Marvel by rolling out movies with individual characters that roll into a film where they all meet. Super-heroes apparently play very well to global audiences. Article includes an interview with Paul Levitz.

  27. >>They have to be set up the right way and lined up the right way and all take off one at a time and fly safe and fly straight.”

  28. Why did it put that? I had this whole rant. And that’s what it ended up putting in for me. Oh well. The Reader’s Digest Condensed version:

    TW sux – too many suits having to put a “personal stamp” on every project. Too many focus groups deciding how the movies should be made and not enough directors like del Toro who have a set of b@llz of their own. Too much obsessing over toy, tv and other tie-ins. Marvel will kick their butts for the next 5 years, minimum, because while DC wrings its hands over “flying safe,” and sits stalled on the runway, Marvel will be out flying – safe, reckless, whatever.

Trackbacks

  1. […] In spite of the array of new comics titles that have come out of DC and its imprints (including Vertigo and Wildstorm) in recent years, Warners has focused primarily on exploiting DC for its most well-known and obvious superhero franchises. (Notable exceptions include the film adaptation of Vertigo’s Hellblazer series, Constantine, and the adaptations of The Road to Perdition and A History of Violence – the latter two coming from DC’s graphic novel arm.) The possible “R&D” function that DC could have served – or might presently offer – has not yet come to fruition, for the most part. Only recently has Warner Bros. appointed a liaison between its motion picture and comic book divisions. Yet rumors seem to indicate that this individual has neither the power in the Warners hierarchy nor the respect of the comic book community.5 […]

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