DC Entertainment President Talks Realignment Implications
Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment, said today's announcements by the company will make the West Coast offices of DC Entertainment "equally weighted" with New York operations as the company continues to leverage DC properties across all media.
"We will end up in a place where the New York operation and the L.A. operation are largely equally weighted in terms of people and emphasis and so forth," said Nelson, who took over the new DC Entertainment division one year ago. "One office is not a satellite to the other, and the reorganization that we've begun today has a spectrum of changes within it. There are promotions of people, there are offers of relocations, and unfortunately, there are some layoffs."
Because DC Entertainment reports directly to Warner Bros. Pictures Group in Burbank, many have speculated that DC would move all of its New York offices to L.A. But Warner Bros. confirmed today that publishing will stay in New York, although multi-media and digital content will be managed in Burbank.
The company also announced the end of the WildStorm and Zuda imprints, indicating the comics currently carrying those names will be published under the DC banner, with WildStorm universe characters taking a "break" before they reappear as part of DC.
"We looked at every possible scenario that we thought would make sense for the business," Nelson said. "We literally looked at everything. Do you move the whole thing to New York? Do you move the whole thing to L.A.? Do you do some version like what we've landed on?
"As part of that painstaking analysis, there are a lot of criteria that we factored in. There's a legacy to DC that exists here, as has come up in the press," she said. "That's why it took us time to do this right and thoughtfully," she added. "And we believe what we've come up with actually respects the history and integrity of what DC has been and can be in the future."
But she emphasized that the changes were not made with only financial considerations in mind.
"[We're] setting ourselves up for both growth and success, as well as efficiency," Nelson said. "But in that order. This was not a cost-cutting initiative. It was about setting the company up for success in the future and optimizing the opportunity for growth through digital publishing as well as other media extensions of our core publishing program."
Much has been made in the media about Warner Bros. suddenly paying attention to its DC franchises because its lucrative Harry Potter film franchise ends next year. Since Nelson had the job of overseeing that franchise during her tenure as president of Warner Premiere, she acknowledged its importance to Warner's overall strategy, but said it doesn't impact the structural decisions being made at DC Entertainment.
"The establishment of DC Entertainment last year was the result of Warner Bros. determining that DC needs to be a greater priority and a stronger creative engine for all of the Warner Bros.' businesses in the future," she said. "That's partially informed by what will be the conclusion of at least this phase of the Harry Potter franchise, which is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of franchise. But I don't think it's as black and white as people sometimes suggest.
"It is, of course, a business factor to Warner Bros. to think, 'How do we continue to create stories and characters that can live across all of the platforms that people are experiencing media on, but one did not directly inform the other, necessarily," she said.
According to Nelson, these announcements mean several personnel changes that, while not yet specific, will be announced over the coming weeks.
"We're trying to implement this really thoughtfully and with a lot of personal consideration, so we need to complete conversations with our own staff before we can talk some of the specifics," Nelson said. "It's a big, complicated realignment that we're doing, and that's why it's hard to answer with the specificities."
According to a report last week in The Hollywood Reporter, DC Entertainment plans to release a "spreadsheet" detailing how DC superheroes will be utilized across various media.
But Nelson said such multi-media initiatives, while definitely in development, would probably not be announced until later this year.
"[Chief Creative Officer] Geoff Johns has been... I was going to say 'crazy busy.' I guess that probably works," she said with a laugh. "He's been busy getting more of our properties set up around the various parts of Warner Bros. We will, before the end of the year -- not in the next couple weeks -- be talking more about what those content plans look like."
Nelson said the announcements about imprints and relocations are just the latest in several ongoing changes that she and her executive staff have been implementing since forming DC Entertainment earlier this year.
"There are also a lot of operational things that have been improving in terms of the communications and connections between editorial and what Geoff has focused on. And there has been incredible improvement in how we collaborate with our Warner businesses, which have been no small feat," she said. " The launch of our digital publishing program in June was a huge step for DC and is an enormous priority for the future. This organizational analysis has been a huge priority for us over the last nine months, but it has not been the only thing we're doing."