For DC fans and employees last week was quite eventful that’s least to say. While fans delved and relished all the new information around their favourite superheroes, their creators were left jobless. Two weeks ahead of its virtual fest DC FanDome, as a part of WarnerMedia’s restructuring, numerous DC employees have been laid off.
We’ve said goodbye to people that have been huge contributors and who have helped define and make DC what it is today.DC COO, Jim Lee to THR
WarnerMedia’s New Prospects
Recently much talked about Diamond DC breakup was just the foretelling of the events to come. The ruthless companywide layoff that is akin to a bloodbath took place under WarnerMedia’s shifting focus on making profits from its new streaming platform HBO Max. Majority of DC Universe’s staff took the hit of this shift. Launched in May 2018, DC Universe has animated offerings like Harley Quinn and Young Justice.
The platform’s live-action offerings include Titans, Doom Patrol and Stargirl which have now been shifted to HBO Max. To create the hype about the launch of new platform, back in May, WB announced the release of much anticipated Zack Snyder’s Justice League Cut. Recently, a spin-off series for Robert Pattinson’s The Batman has also been announced. The series will be produced by director Matt Reeves’ 6th & Idaho, for the platform.
Watch: DC Comics Layoff Breakdown
Similarly, the 85-year-old DC Comic wing which is home for the world’s greatest superheroes like Superman, Wonder Woman and The Batman has also suffered a major blow. One-third of the DC Editorial ranks have been laid off including Editor-in-chief Bob Harris, senior story editor Brian Cunningham, and executive editor Mark Doyle.
The rumors were rife that AT&T, WarnerMedia’s parent company, doesn’t want to be in the comic business. However, Lee has debunked them, effectively telling THR, “We are still in the business of publishing comics.” Nevertheless, he confirmed that there will be less comic titles going forward. Which titles will be cut and when isn’t clear at the moment. Furthermore, the company’s in house merchandising wing, DC Direct, has been shuttered after 22 years.
Some can effectively argue that DC had it a long time coming! With the canons growing old and hits and misses creating corporate troubles — DC indeed needed a fresh perspective. While others are now busy speculating the future of DC.
DC’s Potential Future
WB’s HBO Max strategy is pretty clear with releases like Justice League and the untitled Batman spin-off along with successful projects like Stargirl and Dooms Patrol. It stands right next to big streaming competition like Netflix, Amazon and swiftly rising Disney+. Streamlining all content to one platform makes sense in days of quarantine and isolation. Something similar to what Disney successfully did with exclusive Marvel Studio content and originals like Mandalorian on its streaming platform Disney+.
Watch: Everything You Need To Know About HBO Max
As for the Comic wing, some AT&T insiders feel “WarnerMedia doesn’t want to be in the comics business. It wants to be in the character business.” Meaning, DC Comics are no longer the driving force behind superheroes like Batman, Superman, Flash — that are important to WB franchising and licensing goals. To put it bluntly, the layoffs happened because while comics are a part of DC’s intellectual property, their profits are negligible compared to a $200-300 million budget summer blockbuster.
Watch: DC FanDome Schedule Breakdown
Speaking of summer blockbusters, DC FanDome is celebrating massive projects that are lined up for fans in the near future. More than 300 artists, creators and actors will reveal various details about their creations. From Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Matt Reeve’s The Batman, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984, Andrés Muschietti’s The Flash —that opens the prospect of Multiverse for the movies — and more are coming to the platform. How keen WB is for some projects like James Gunn’s Suicide Squad over Black Adam can be made out by the FanDome schedule.
It seems branding and franchise profits have now become the priority of this superhero world and DC FanDome is just a coverup for brutal layoff.