The business and stakes for comic book adaptations turned into motion blockbusters has only been enhanced over the past decade. The creation of Marvel Studios in 2008 and then the purchase of Marvel outright by Disney in 2009-2010 only created more of a juggernaut for Warner Brothers and DC Comics (soon to become DC Entertainment) to have to compete with. Aside for the trilogy of Batman films as directed/produced by Chris Nolan, Warner Brothers has seen lackluster success with film adaptations of their big name characters (at best). After the "Green Lantern" bust of 2011 scared them back into the Batcave for a few more years, last summer's "Man of Steel" was retooled not just as an attempt to reboot Superman's faded film franchise (which, to be honest, peaked in 1980) but also an attempt to create their own "cinematic universe". Yet it's success was apparently so below expectations that it's sequel would soon become taken over by Batman as well as scores of other DC superheroes. Thus was born "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" which looks to have the two heroes duke it out amid cameos by several other members of the eventual "Justice League".
What's been known since April is that both they and Marvel Studios targeted the date of May 6th, 2016, as the release date for their latest ventures. For months, both DC's effort and the untitled "Captain America 3" were scheduled to clash on the same blockbuster weekend, and for months neither studio blinked. Marvel even doubled down on this date with new films announced in subsequent weeks. Most analysts (including this column) saw the game as DC's match to lose should a confrontation on one weekend split the lucrative "front loaded" haul.
Now, Hollywood bible Variety reports that Warner Brothers has decided to forfeit the battle in hopes of winning the war. The release date for "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" as directed by Zack Synder has been moved ahead about a month and a half to March 25th, 2016. This would move the film out of the "summer blockbuster" quarter entirely and solidly into spring. In addition, Warner Brothers has announced nine untitled film release dates from 2016 until 2020 at a rate of two a year. This is a naked attempt to imitate the long term plan Marvel Studios has had, only far less seems to be on the table. One presumes from months of rumors that "Man of Steel 2", "Shazam", and "Wonder Woman" would be among this list, but such things are unknown.
"Young Justice" returns to Cartoon Network...in a crossover with "Teen Titans GO!"
What once was a healthy line up of DC Comics animation adaptations on Cartoon Network has since become a wasteland. "Young Justice", as produced by Greg Weisman ("Gargoyles", "Spectacular Spider-Man") and Brandon Vietti, debuted on the network with a pilot airing in November 2010 and soon became the first entry in a "DC Nation" block of programming. The show earned a passionate (and largely female) fanbase online although its' ratings were mediocre and the standard line of overpriced and poorly produced action figures failed to sell. By the time it folded after two seasons in March 2013, it was hardly the first or last DC cartoon to be dumped by the network. "Green Lantern: the Animated Series" as produced by Bruce Timm was done after two seasons, and even the latest Batman cartoon, "Beware the Batman", didn't even finish a first season later that year. The lone survivor, beyond some shorts, is "Teen Titans GO!", a comedy version of the already heavily comedic "Teen Titans" show which ran from 2001-2006.
Now, Warner Brothers animation has announced that the first and last cartoons of the "DC Nation" block will meet on screen. An upcoming episode of "Teen Titans GO!" will see the team scolded by the "Young Justice" crew "for their silliness and hijinks", which causes the Titans to act more serious. Vietti confirmed that neither he or Weisman had any involvement in the episode, but that it will "be fun". By sheer coincidence (or corporate synergy), the blu-ray edition of the first season of "Young Justice" goes on sale August 12th. Now, "Young Justice" has a passionate base of fans who continue to grasp at straws for any possible continuation of the series. While a third season of "Young Justice" coming into being seems about as likely as Dan DiDio growing 400 feet tall and attacking Marvel Studios physically, a digital-first comic book series written or co-written by Weisman and/or Vietti or a direct-to-video film are far more possible. However, Warner Brothers would need to know that they could make cash by continuing the franchise, which means this crossover episode needs huge ratings, much as the blu-ray needs to see massive sales.
General Mills unites with DC Comics to redesign cereal mascots!
Not a misprint or an imaginary tale! Back in March, DC Comics and General Mills announced an alliance to offer free superhero comics to the kids who buy cereal in an attempt to help entice the future of the market. Now, this alliance has been furthered with General Mills contracting DC Comics artists Jim Lee, Dave Johnson, and Terry & Rachel Dodson to redesign the characters of their "monster" line of cereals. To this end, Jim Lee will redesign Boo Berry, while Johnson will recreate Frankenberry, with the Dodsons having a go with Count Chocula. To everyone's astonishment, Jim Lee's new Boo Berry design did not include a v-neck collar, a leather jacket or a choker. The 1970's era mascots will get their limited edition box covers, and some comic strips explaining the chance, this fall.