Thursday, September 10, 2009

10 Questions About DC Entertainment

This question coming up in a piece on Newsarama gets to the crux of what I am wondering about with the recent Warner/DC corporate shuffle announcement.
How much input will Robinov (and by natural extension) Warner Bros. Pictures, have over DC’s comic book development?

Referring back to the Disney/Marvel merger, the folks at the House of Mouse went out of their way to say they want Marvel to keep being Marvel. Disney execs swore up and down they had no intention of rocking the House of Ideas’ boat.

Two big differences between that arrangement and today’s announcement. One, Disney needed Marvel to regain cred with young males more than Marvel needed Disney at this juncture in time, so in theory, it makes sense that Disney will take a hands-off approach.

Two, DC Entertainment was created to give DIRECT control of DC Comics to the Warners film division. Diane Nelson now runs DC Comics. Diane Nelson reports to Jeff Robinov, who runs Warner Bros. Pictures. How can he NOT have significant input into the decision-making at DC? How much influence he chooses to wield is up to him. Could it mean that the direction of certain characters could be affected by decisions tied to theatrical choices? Who knows? If he’s smart, and one doesn’t get to Robinov’s position without being smart, he’ll let the comics guys & girls handle the comics, so he can zero in on the movies. Lord knows, he has lots to do on that front.

The emphasis is mine in the quote, by the way. I don't think that it can be emphasized enough that DC Entertainment is being put into the hands of a brand manager under the direct control of Warner's film division. This just strikes me as a corporate synergy move, not one concerned with creative the Disney/Marvel deal has been.

This decision isn't a reaction to Disney's (attempted) acquisition of Marvel. I think that it is a reaction to the success of Marvel Entertainment with the Iron Man movie (and to a limited degree the reboot of the Hulk movie franchise) that was announced with a timing that was intended to take some of the wind out of the sails of what's going on with Disney and Marvel. Despite the fluke of the Batman movie franchise reboot, the DC properties on the big screen have not been doing so well. Superman Returns is an example of this. I do think that we will see some success with the upcoming mid/low tier DC characters in the movies: Jonah Hex and The Losers. Will this success be due to tie in to comics? That's doubtful but it is exactly the sort of thing that this new DC Entertainment will be looking for: successful franchising launched from the R&D of the comic books. Frankly, this has little to do with the creativity on either of those books, and probably never will.

If you are someone who is excited that these properties are going to be farmed for movies, television and video games...all of this about DC Entertainment is most likely great news. If you are someone who is a fan of the medium of comic books and loves the creativity that comes out of that medium, well, things are still hazy on whether or not this will be a good thing or not.

Regardless, it does look as those the comic industry is in for a big change in the way that it deals with itself, and that change is coming soon.