DC Comics' "Rebirth" Character Designs for Batman, Wonder Woman and More
This fall has been particularly exceptional television adaptations: The Walking Dead season premiere pulled in more than 17 million viewers, while more than 8 million watched the first episode Gotham, making it Fox’s best fall drama debut in 14 years. More than 6 million raced to see The Flash pilot, giving The CW its highest ratings ever. About 5 million are regularly tuning in for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and nearly 3 million for the third season of Arrow.
It’s not limited to live-action series, either: 2 million people watch Teen Titans Go!, and more than 1 million tune in to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon.
On the big screen, all four feature films starring Marvel characters — X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — each grossed more than $700 million each worldwide. So far, comic book movies have generated more than $3.8 billion dollars this year. While it’s unknown how many of those dollars are from repeat viewings, that’s still a lot of people.
Although the upcoming DC Comics film slate was the headline-grabbing news from this morning’s Time Warner investor presentation, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara also announced the studio is seeking to reduce costs by $200 million annually as part of company-wide streamlining effort. That’s about double what some reports indicated ahead of today’s meeting.
How much of that will be a result of layoffs has yet to be revealed, but Variety maintains Warner Bros. is expected to cut between 900 and 1,000 jobs, or about 10 percent of its worldwide workforce.
Warner Digital Series and DC Entertainment have partnered with visual-effects company Otoy to develop an immersive entertainment experience that will allow users to explore the Batcave from Batman: The Animated Series through interactive holographic video for virtual-reality displays.
In short, that means fans will be able use devices like Oculus Rift, the Samsung Galaxy Gear VR and forthcoming “glasses-free” light field displays to step into the world of the beloved and influential 1990s cartoon.
Turner Broadcasting has announced it will eliminate 1,475 jobs, about 10 percent of its workforce, as part of streamlining measures by corporate parent Time Warner that will also affect Warner Bros. Entertainment.
The company, whose properties include CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and TNT, will make the cuts over the next two weeks through a combination of buyouts, layoffs and the elimination of unfilled positions. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 975 of the jobs will come from Turner’s metro-Atlanta operations; CNN Worldwide will lose about 300.
The U.S. Supreme Court this morning declined to intervene in the copyright dispute between the Joe Shuster Estate and DC Comics, effectively ending the long, and frequently bitter, battle over who owns Superman.
By denying the estate’s petition, the justices let stand a November 2013 ruling by the Ninth Circuit that Shuster’s nephew is prevented by a 1992 agreement with DC from reclaiming the artist’s stake in the first Superman story under a clause of the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act.
At issue was a now 22-year-old deal in which the Shuster estate relinquished all claims to the property in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension. In October 2012, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright found that the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary. Less than three months later, the Ninth Circuit overturned a 2008 decision granting the heirs of Jerry Siegel the writer’s 50-percent share of the copyright to the first Superman story in Action Comics #1.
Classic Tom and Jerry cartoons are now accompanied by disclaimers on Amazon Prime and iTunes warning viewers of “ethnic and racial prejudices,” BBC News and TheWrap report. However, the wording is similar to that accompanying some of the DVD collections, indicating the decision was made by Warner Bros., and not by the two online retailers.
“Tom & Jerry shorts may depict some racial and ethnic prejudices that were once commonplace in American society,” the Amazon label reads. “Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While not representing the Warner Bros. view of today’s society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming that these prejudices never existed.”
This week has already seen an incredible ancient Mayan-inspired Batman suit and a somewhat-disturbing supercut of all of Thomas and Martha Wayne’s onscreen deaths, so it’s perhaps only fitting that we close it out with something else Dark Knight-related: “Batman Evolution,” an arrangement of the live-action television and movie themes, performed on piano and cello — actually, 100 tracks of cello — by The Piano Guys.
While the music would be satisfying on its own, as you can see below there’s a beautifully shot video that prominently features the appropriate Batmobile for each of the themes (Neal Hefti’s 1966 “Batman Theme,” Danny Elfman’s 1989 “The Batman Theme,” and Hans Zimmer’s 2008 “Like a Dog Chasing Cars”). You may also notice how the cinematography and screen dimensions shift from theme to theme, reflecting each adaptation.
Warner Bros. Entertainment could eliminate as many as 1,000 jobs — more than 10 percent of its worldwide workforce — as part of studio-wide cutbacks confirmed earlier this month, Variety reports. However, the studio insists that although the cuts will be “substantial,” it hasn’t settled on the exact number of layoffs.
“The plans are still in process,” Dee Dee Myers, Warner Bros.’ new executive vice president of corporate communications, told TheWrap. “We’re reducing costs and it will result in reduced overhead, but the plans are not done.”
Director Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will arrive in March 2016, and with it an avalanche of merchandise, from lunchboxes and clothing to backpacks and, of course, action figures. However, FigureRealm user STjuggernaut is already making life difficult for official licensees with his impressive custom creations.
Using bits and pieces from other characters — a She-Hulk head here, an Indiana Jones whip there — he’s crafted 4-inch scale figures of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Ben Affleck as Batman (with and without his cowl). The join the Superman, Jor-El and Kryptonian villains he assembled based on Man of Steel.
Clearly hoping to catch lightning in a bottle following confirmation from Dwayne Johnson that he’ll play Black Adam in the Shazam movie, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and TT Games have revealed the classic supervillain/antihero will be a playable character in LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
“Can you smell what Black Adam is cooking?” reads the message accompanying the above image from the game’s official Twitter account.
Arriving Nov. 3o, LEGO Batman 3 takes the Dark Knight, well, beyond Gotham, as he joins with other DC Comics heroes and villains in outer space to top Brainiac from destroying Earth. The game will feature more than 150 playable characters, including Black Adam and his nemesis Shazam.
Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara confirmed impending layoffs across the studio in a memo sent Thursday afternoon to employees. Although no date or numbers were given, Deadline suggests the cuts will likely take place in the fourth quarter.
“We are doing our best to minimize staff reductions,” wrote Tsujihara, who was named CEO in January 2013. “However, and it pains me to say this, positions will be eliminated — at every level — across the Studio.”
Warner Bros.’ subsidiaries include DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television, Warner Home Video and New Line Cinema. It also co-owns The CW with CBS Corporation.
Although reports earlier this week indicated the studio would offer buyouts before it resorted to layoffs, there’s no mention of that approach in the memo. In fact, it would seem buyouts are off the table, as Tsujihara’s introduction makes it clear he wanted”to set the record straight” following “misinformation in the press.”
Business | DC Entertainment parent company Warner Bros. is expected to offer buyouts to an unspecified number of employees as part of an effort to increase profits following a disappointing summer at the box office. The cuts are thought to be spread across the film, television and home entertainment units; if not enough workers accept buyouts, unnamed sources contend the studio may resort to layoffs. Warner Bros. wouldn’t comment on the report. [Bloomberg]
Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe has filed an appeal in Tokyo District Court, seeking to overturn his conviction on charges of sending threatening letters to venues and retailers linked to the Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime series. Watanabe admitted to all the charges on his first day in court, and after he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, he said, “I’m glad to accept the ruling so I can live over four years in prison,” so this is a reversal for him. [Anime News Network]
Six Flags has announced a 2015 slate of new attractions at its 18 theme parks that includes the 3D interactive ride Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, the roller coasters Batman: The Ride, The Joker Chaos Coaster, and the Harley Quinn Spinsanity.
Arriving in the spring at Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags St. Louis, Justice League: Battle for Metropolis allows visitors, equipped with special 3D glasses and stun gun, to explore the Hall of Justice, battling Lex Luthor and The Joker, who have kidnapped Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern and Supergirl.
If you made it through all of the Comic-Con International coverage without reading a description of the footage from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice shown during the Warner Bros. presentation, or seeing blurry photos and shaky video surreptitiously captured by cellphone, then you’ve been spectacularly diligent and restrained. Not wanting to ruin that impressive streak, I’ll toss out a halfhearted spoiler warning for this clip, but I think you’re fairly safe to watch it ….
It’s of course from the gang at How It Should Have Ended, who undercut the gritted teeth and steely glares most of us expect from Zack Snyder’s film with a bit of humor and, naturally, coffee. Watch the short video below.
For Batman Day, and the start of Comic-Con International, LEGO has unleashed a one-two punch on fans of the Dark Knight: the LEGO Super Heroes: DC Comics San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive Batman Classic TV Series Batmobile and the giveaway Batman of Zur-En-Arrh minifig.
Priced at $39.99, the Batman Classic TV Series Batmobile comes with the 1960s-style Caped Crusader minifigs. While that set will be readily available this week at the LEGO booth (#2829), convention attendees will have to rely on some luck to get their hands on Batman of Zur-En-Arrh.