The results of a recent settlement came forward in the case of WB and DC Comics vs. the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerome Siegel. According to Variety, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen G. Larsen found that Warner Bros. and DC Comics didn’t have what was called a “Sweetheart deal” — meaning that Warner Bros. would have made promises to DC that they would do more than say 20th Century Fox or MGM could’ve — because the deal Warners and DC struck was at fair market value.
Now, that’s all just number crunching and court settlements, blah blah blah. Let’s get to what you all probably care about. Warner Bros. is going to lose the copyright to the Superman franchise in 2013. At that time, sole ownership of the copyright will belong to the heirs of Siegel and Joe Schuster, who helped create Superman with Siegel in 1938 (when the hero we know today appeared in Action Comics #1). So, in order to capitalize on the franchise while they still can, Warner has to start production on a new Superman film by 2011.
And while that may seem realistic on its own, think about it for a second. Warner Bros., since the 1970’s, has distributed five Superman films, a couple TV series, an animated series starring just Superman, and one animated series where he joined the rest of the Justice League. It’s hard to believe that in just three and a half short years, that will all be over. The Siegel’s attorney, Marc Toberoff, even went so far as to say “The Siegels look forward to the remainder of the case, which will determine how much defendants owe them for their exploitations of Superman.” Exploitations? Really?
Variety didn’t mention this, but it also puts a time-frame as to when the Justice League live-action film can be completed as well. Most of you know that production was halted due to the writer’s strike last year, and that we almost had a Batman played by a guy named Armie Hammer (feel free to burn me “Gossip Girl” fans, but that was just an atrocious choice). If Warners owns the rights to all the other members of the Justice League, but not the rights to Superman, is it even worth it? Now, this isn’t to say that the Schusters and Siegels couldn’t just turn back around and cut a deal with Warners again, but after their “exploitations” of their franchise, as they claim, do you think they would? What if they give it to Dreamworks? What if they give it to Disney? Oh man, what if within the next decade we had Pixar’s Superman?!
While my mouth salivates thinking about this, tell me what you think about the prospect of a slightly rushed Superman film coming out within the next few years.