Rich Johnston reports the rumor that has been swirling around for the last few weeks from multiple sources: a new boss for DC, namely Diane Nelson currently president of Warners’ direct-to-DVD branch Warner Premiere. DC honcho Paul Levitz had been reporting to Time-Warner president and COO Alan Horn, after a period several years ago where he reported to Nelson’s boss, Kevin Tsujihara, currently president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group but then at a different, lower level position.
Nelson was responsible for handling relations between J.K. Rowling and Warners during the Harry Potter production process, a tricky task which won her many plaudits. Last year she was behind the WATCHMEN motion comics move, talking it up in this interview at Newsarama, so she’s clearly interested in the characters.
Time Warner typically has a very complicated corporate structure, and like does not necessarily go with like, as DC Comics’ distance from the publishing arm (Time, which Time-Warner is desperately trying to unload) and absorption into the movie studio arm shows. DC has usually come under minimal corporate supervision (Alan Horn seems to have bigger fish to fry) but an exception was Tsujihara, who implemented a number of key hires and initiatives at DC. Speculation is that Nelson, who was hired by Tsujihara, would be much more hands on as well.
The success of DC’s movie characters has put them back on the corporate map, but the studio surely is concerned about bringing those characters into greater play, especially with the tremendous success Marvel has had leveraging their characters, becoming the darlings of Wall Street in the process. Marvel’s revenue of $719 million is less than two percent of Time-Warner’s nearly $46 billion annual sales. Yet Wall Street values Marvel at approximately $3 billion and Time-Warner at $34 billion or nearly nine percent of the home of Batman. With the value of Time-Warner stock lagging for several years, it stands to reason that corporate would be anxious to unlock the value of DC Comics as effectively as the House of Ideas has their own IP.
Developing, as they say.