As we reported last week, mere days after Disney’s acquisition of Marvel and its well-organized slate of comic book adaptations, Warner Bros. countered by restructuring DC Comics into the WB. The result? DC Entertainment, a new division within Warner Bros. headed by Diane Nelson that will report directly to Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov. She’s got big plans for DCE and new films featuring old favorites are only the start. Learn about her vision for DCE, how it represents a significant shift in the way comic book properties are viewed and whether or not Kanye West thought Dawn Ostroff got robbed after the jump.
Nelson has steadfastly maintained that the creation of DC Entertainment was not a direct reaction to the Disney-Marvel deal and was, instead, a deal that was a long time in coming. Either way, she now has total control over DC’s properties. And she intends to use as many of them as possible.
In an interview with MTV, she talked about her desire to explore the stories in the smaller branches of DC Publishing for their ability to show that “there’s a lot more to this than just the traditional superhero.” She also commented that she and Robinov are approaching the development of DC Entertainment as being “cross-platform,” emphasizing the feature film slate but also pursuing television, home video and video game outlets.
Nelson’s approach to DC properties is a clear sign that Hollywood’s approach to comic book properties is evolving once more. In the beginning, movies like “Blade” and “X-Men” did well enough to get studios talking but not to the point that executives forgot the scorched earth left by “Batman and Robin.” The unmitigated critical and commercial success of films like “Spiderman” and “Batman Begins” caused studios to start making comic book movies left and right, assuming all the while that audiences would just lap it up. Second-tier heroes like “Elektra” and “The Punisher” soon proved that idea wrong but, as Nelson has noticed, non-superhero properties have had a Midas touch of late.
“Sin City,” “300,” “Wanted” and even “Road to Perdition” were all very successful, each doubled, if not tripled its production budget in box office receipts. Nelson stressed her interest in the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics and likely will look there as well as the Wildstorm lines for material to bring to the screen, be it big or small. With the exception of “Smallville” which will have aired 198(!) episodes when this season ends, comic book based television shows have not become a force like their big screen counterparts. Nelson could be the kind of executive who changes that. Heck, if “Supernatural” can last five seasons, why couldn’t a redone “Constantine” do the same? For now we have to wait and see. Even so, with a cross-platform business model, a mandate to move projects out of development hell and a willingness to delve deep for good stories, the Diane Nelson era sure looks exciting.