In a companion article to their exclusive announcement that Zack Snyder will direct a Justice League movie as early as 2018, the Wall Street Journal took a more comprehensive look at Warner Bros. multimedia strategy in regards to DC Comics, in light of the disparity between the volume and success of DC-based films veruse the output of rival Marvel Studios and Marvel licensed films (Newsarama recently highlighted the disparity here).
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the piece is the Journal reporting that the studio has “nine other movies based on DC comics in development,” in addition to the now tentatively titled Superman vs. Batman in 2016 and Snyder’s Justice League follow-up.
The Journal named The Metal Men, Shazam, 100 Bullets, and Fables as four films in development in their Justice League story, and The Sandman is known to be in development with producer Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which leaves at least four other properties reportedly in some stage of development. While studio executives said they were open to a Wonder Woman feature film, it was cited as not being in active development.
The WSJ goes on to cite the aggressive amount of properties in development for TV, which includes the already airing Arrow, plus The Flash, iZombie, Gotham, and Constantine, which are all in development as pilots at various networks, adding: “Warner is also looking to accelerate the success it has enjoyed using DC characters in direct-to-DVD animation and videogames, businesses in which it faces little competition from Marvel.”?
The Journal’s reporting is based on the premise that Warner Bros. has serious catching up to do with Marvel Studios. It begins by citing a 2013 quote from Warner Bros. then-executive vice president of business development fretting that “the studio's DC Comics unit might lose a generation of young fans if it didn't catch up to rival Marvel in the business of making superhero movies.”
"We're not going to let that happen," Kevin Tsujihara, now the CEO of Warner Bros, reportedly declared.
"If you want to know how we are going to grow as a company and what's important to us, DC is at the top of the list," Tsujihara recently told the Journal.
DC will apparently go about their business differently than Marvel, however. DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson, appointed to her position three years ago and who reports directly to Tsujihara (the first time the head of DC has reported directly to the Warner Bros. CEO in company history) told the Journal, “It isn't about a single approach to everything. It's the right character matched with the right talent in the right medium."
The Journal refers to this approach as the “opposite of Marvel,” whose films (the non-licensed ones) and TV shows all inhabit and same continuity, and whose comics and animation efforts often reflect what’s happening in the films.
“Ms. Nelson has instead encouraged Warner producers to develop diverse and even contradictory takes,” reports the Journal. “The Batman in ‘Superman vs Batman,’ to be played by Ben Affleck, will be different from the one in ‘Gotham’ [Newsarama Note: Bruce Wayne is only 12 years old on the TV show, and not appearing as Batman] and in coming direct-to-DVD animated movies and videogames. A kid-friendly version of Batman even appeared in February's hit ‘The Lego Movie.’”