Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
DC Entertainment today announced that its multimedia and digital departments will move to the West Coast over the next year, to further integrate the company into the larger Warner Bros. parent. But what does this actually mean?
When the news was first announced, I admit, my reaction was along the lines of “Wait, isn’t most of the multimedia stuff already happening on the West Coast anyway, considering that’s where Warner Bros is?” Moving everything except the publishing division – or, I should say, the print publishing division, seeing as digital is upping and moving – to Burbank, CA, just seems to me to be a solidification of a multimedia framework that’s been assumed, if not actually in place, for some time, surely? (I’d almost call it a good idea, if it didn’t mean that the existing digital department will presumably either have to choose between moving coasts or finding new work, which is a crappy situation to be in.)
Maybe the key to understanding the impact of this announcement doesn’t really come from the official release itself, but CBR’s follow-up interview with DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. It’s there, after all, that she clearly states “This is not a cost cutting initiative and it is not a situation where we are assuming DC functions into Warner Bros. We’re looking for opportunities to work together, not to collapse DC in to Warner Bros” (although, for something that isn’t a cost-cutting initiative, losing 20% of your staff seems pretty cost-cutty to me*), and is pretty open about the fact that the announcement seemed vague because… well, details seem to be pretty vague right now:
Unfortunately or fortunately I can’t go through that with you because what we’re beginning today is a pretty unique process of talking with all of our employees personally, one-on-one, over the course of the next few days to work with them on each of their individual positions. So there’s a spectrum of things that are happening for various employees – there are promotions, there are offers of relocation and unfortunately there are some layoffs to come. Until that’s all sorted and people have had time to consider their individual opportunities and we confirm all that, which will take us a few weeks, we aren’t going to be able to discuss specifics.
What I can say is that the Los Angeles and New York offices will generally be weighted equally, meaning one is not a satellite of the other, or will not be. How that sorts out in detail we need a bit more time to get to first.
My take? Nothing will actually really change for the print books themselves, in the short term – well, aside from the closure of the Wildstorm line, but I’d be lying if I said that really came as a massive surprise considering the sales, sadly – and the current movie/television/merchandising plans will, more than likely, stay as they were as well (but hopefully involve less flying between coasts by Geoff Johns). It’s digital that I’m expecting to see change first, whether it’s webcomics (Now that Zuda is gone, will something replace it as an originator of non-print digital material?), digital distribution of print books, or something altogether different (Animated or live-action webisodes of some kind? Twittercomics? This is where my imagination fails me. Do videogames fall under digital for DC?); after all, as Nelson tells Comics Alliance’s Laura Hudson, “The establishment of our digital publishing and production operations in Los Angeles signals how important digital is to the future of our company, and everything underneath that supports that point of view.”
That said, I’m willing to place a bet on all of DC moving west within the next decade, though. Anyone?
* – Important note: A DC spokesman has since contacted the site to challenge the estimate of 20% staff cuts, noting that Diane Nelson has not given that figure in her interview with the LA Times or at any other time.