DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson finally spoke out about why DC had to leave its home of 80 years and relocate to the West Coast in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. She says it was “never optimal” to have two offices on separate coasts. And as an example she said,
Literally everything is more difficult. We had a huge Halloween party and a costume contest with the Burbank office and New York on a remote screen. We use all the best technology to make sure we’re remotely connected. But it still always falls apart. People feel disengaged.
That’s not a good way to run a company. When you have a creative business and ideas generated from people working together, I think you can work happier together.
Some party poopers would say that an unsatisfying holiday get together is a small tradeoff for keeping your job or your home, but, well, this is corporate America. While it seemed an unusually tone-deaf example by the usually savvy Nelson, you can see what she’s getting at—if you want to have a winning team you need to have the offense and the defense in the same stadium.
In addition, Nelson said that reducing staff wasn’t the goal of the move. “No, this is not about any kind of efficiency in terms of overhead or anything else. We’re offering everyone a chance to move. We have a very competitive package with all sorts of components in terms of relocation and other services. We’re doing everything we can to help people find it exciting.”
While downplaying the traditional New York freelance base—”I am 100% sure we can maintain the commitment to our business in the exact same way we have by having the whole operation here in Burbank”—Nelson pegged the “driving factor” for the move as, quite simply, unification. “Our ability to work more collaboratively with the whole studio is certainly a benefit. I believe everyone in DC will feel more a part of Warner Bros in the best ways. But it isn’t about more of our people talking to the film and TV people.”
“This is not the corporatization of DC,” she went on. “It isn’t about folding DC into Warner Bros. We’re going to help DC feel like more of an important priority in Warner Bros.” Nelson did mention “lease terms,” so the idea that the DC lease at 1700 ending got some support there.
Yesterday saw the beginning of the meetings at the DC offices that will lay out options for those who want to stay or go. It’s a tough decision and it’s not a fun week for anyone.
On a personal note, I went through this whole process a long time ago when Disney moved its magazine from, ironically, Burbank to New York. I was THRILLED to move! After I left, they moved magazines them back and forth between Easthampton, White Plains, New York and Burbank before deciding to layoff pretty much the whole department. The Mouse is a harsh mistress.
If nothing else, this is going to be a huge housecleaning for DC. There have been many veteran names mentioned by multiple observers as not making the move. For young folks without families it could be a good deal, although relocation packages are expected to have many levels. So…developing.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.