Following the financial and critical success of The Dark Knight Warner Bros. has realized that they are sitting on a gold mine - not only from box office receipts, but also from DVD, television, video games and other sources of revenue.
Last month the company held a strategy meeting in an attempt to figure out what was needed in order for them to match Marvel Comics in the comic book movie stakes, and it would appear that they have finally come up with a plan.
Variety spoke with Warner Bros head honchos Jeff Robinov and Alan Horn who touched on topics such as the sequel to The Dark Knight (and director Chris Nolan's involvement), the development of DC Characters movies and the chances of there ever being a Justice League movie.
It looks like the company is about to go to town on their stable of iconic characters that includes: Batman, Superman, The Flash, The Green Lantern, Aquaman and Wonder Woman.
Warner Bros chief Alan Horn said that Warner and DC were committed to turning:
"the properties into viable movie product in an intelligent way so that we introduce them like planes on a runway. They have to be set up the right way and lined up the right way and all take off one at a time and fly safe and fly straight."
With regards to Justice League, Jeff Robinov as good as admitted that the studio almost made a terrible mistake. Robinov said:
"We're not off the notion of a Justice League. There's a massive interest and knowledge in the comicbook industry and it takes time to sort of catch up and understand the characters and the history, where they've intersected with each other and what their worlds are. That's part of the education that we're going through."
There's a lot of B.S. that flies around Hollywood, but it's good to see somebody own up to making a mistake - or as close to owning up as you can in the City of Angels.
That said the studio isn't totally off the idea of the multi-character superhero film. Gregory Noveck senior VP of creative affairs for DC Comics stated:
"These are big, iconic characters. So when you make them into a movie, you'd better be shooting for a pretty high standard. You're not always going to reach it, but you have to be shooting for it. We're going to make a Justice League movie, whether it's now or 10 years from now. But we're not going to do it and Warners is not going to do it until we know it's right."
With regards to the sequel to The Dark Knight, there is a deal with Christopher Nolan - if he is interested, but Horn says: We have no idea where Chris is going with this. We haven't had any conversations with him about it."
I find it very hard to believe that in the month since The Dark Knight has opened and broken all sorts of box office records that the studio has not started talking to the brains behind the film. You can bet that Warner Bros. wants to get into the Nolan-Batman business but it sounds to me like Nolan is playing a bit of hard ball (echoes of the Marvel/Iron Man/Jon Favereau situation). If he does decide to do the film (and I'm pretty sure that he will) Warner Bros will be bankrolling some of his passion projects for the next few years.
There will be more announcements next month with regards to Warner and DC's plans, but it looks like the studio has finally decided to fight back on the comic book movie front. It would appear that Marvel will finally be getting some serious competition for the superhero limelight.