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.”