Warner Bros Entertainment has restructured its DC Comics division and announced the launch of DC Entertainment (DCE) to be run by former Warner Premiere chief Diane Nelson.
The move follows hot on the heels of Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Studios, however it is understood Warner Bros Pictures Group president Jeff Robinov had been working behind the scenes for several years to develop the DC stable and exploit the superhero roster beyond its two most famous properties, Batman and Superman.
DC Entertainment will develop brands for exploitation across all divisions of the Warner Bros fold, while the DC Comics publishing business will continue, releasing approximately 90 comic books through its various imprints and 30 graphic novels a month.
Current DC properties in development or production at Warner Bros include: the supernatural Western Jonah Hex with Josh Brolin, Megan Fox and John Malkovich that recently wrapped production in Louisiana; action-adventure The Losers that stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana and Chris Evans and is shooting in Puerto Rico; The Green Lantern to star Ryan Reynolds and scheduled to open in 2011; and Guy Ritchie’s upcoming adaptation of the anti-hero property Lobo.
TV projects includes Human Target and Midnight Mass, while Warner Bros Animation’s Batman: The Brave And The Bold airs on Cartoon Network. Warner Premiere recently launched Green Lantern: First Flight, and Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment released the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum on August 25.
Further details about projects and management structure will be announced at a press conference in the first quarter of 2010 to mark the 75th anniversary of DC Comics, which Nelson said would allow her and the DCE team to “put meat on the bones.”
Nelson will report to Robinov and will continue to oversee Warner Premiere, the company she has led as president since 2006, until a replacement is found. She also continues to oversee franchise management of the Harry Potter property, a role she has fulfilled since 2000, and represent the studio’s interests with J K Rowling.
Speaking to Screendaily, she added that DCE will explore the various DC imprints such as Vertigo and Minx, and mine an “infinite” roster of characters from the DC “Multiverse”, a construct that allows the comic book writers to create different incarnations of every DC character in alternate universes.
When asked whether DCE would follow Marvel’s lead and cross-pollinate characters across the film slate, she said, “We will make sure our storylines are complimentary across our platforms. Some of that may come from the film engine, some of it from video games, and so on.”
Nelson referred to a strategy that would be “talent and creator-friendly” and hinted that the studio would respect the passion and knowledge of the fans of the comic book properties. “With Harry Potter we knew fans felt a sense of ownership of the brand and Warner Bros would lose out if we took that away and the same is true with DC.”
Robinov declined to comment on reports that he had called back high profile projects in development from producers, such as Wonder Woman from Joel Silver.
Meanwhile Paul Levitz, who has served as president and publisher of DC Comics since 2002, will return to his roots as a writer for DC and becomes a contributing editor and overall consultant to DCE. Levitz has written most of the classic DC characters, including Batman, Wonder Woman and the Superman newspaper strip.
Warner Bros chairman and CEO Barry Meyer said DC stable was an “incredible wellspring of creative properties”, adding: “Diane knows our studio as a creative executive, a marketer and a senior manager, and this varied background will help her effectively and creatively integrate the DC brand and properties across all our businesses. We’re also thrilled that Paul will remain involved with DC and we’ll be able to tap his expertise to help us reach our goals for this new business.”
“While we’ve had great success in films and television, the formation of DC Entertainment will help us to bring more DC properties across additional platforms to fans around the world, while maintaining brand integrity and authenticity,” the studio’s president and COO Alan Horn said. “Diane is a terrific choice to lead DC Entertainment, and with Paul in his new role as a valued consultant and contributing editor, both our company and comic fans win.”
Prior to Warner Premiere, Nelson served as the studio’s executive vice-president of Global Brand Management, when she assumed control of managing the Harry Potter brand, as well as The Matrix and other properties. She arrived at Warner Bros from Walt Disney Records, where she was director of national promotions.