The DC Universe will now be a unified franchise under the direction of James Gunn and Peter Safran, who were appointed co-CEOs of DC Studios in October 2022. The plan is for DC to be an interwoven storyline through movies, TV series and video games. However, such new approach won’t stop projects from the DC umbrella to fall under other studios.
In what may sound like a surprising turn of events, Warner Bros. is striking a deal to have some animated superhero content on Amazon. Speaking at Content London (via Deadline), Warner Bros. TV boss Channing Dungey revealed that WB is closing a deal for the rival streaming company to feature “DC-branded content in animation”:
"“With animation, we used to be about staying in-house, but now, we are doing it on different platforms. HBO Max is the first stop, but we are in the process of closing a big deal with Amazon featuring DC-branded content in animation.”"
Though the news may sound surprising, it’s a development that has been in the pipeline for some time. Earlier in 2022, HBO Max passed on Batman: Caped Crusader, an animated series from J.J. Abrams, Matt Reeves and Bruce Timm. At the time of the announcement, it was revealed that HBO Max passing on the show did not mean it was dead.
Instead, Caped Crusader was being shopped around to other companies, with some of the most notable interested parties being Netflix, Apple and Amazon. This is part of Warner Bros.’ efforts to monetize popular IP by giving it to other studios. During a September 2022 Bank of America event, Warner Bros. Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels stated (via The Hollywood Reporter):
"“We have a ton of content that has been sitting idly for just purely principle reasons. The Lord of the Rings is a great [example]: It is a nonexclusive window, [and] we look at it as what we are giving up versus what additional revenue we are generating. [There] are positive knock-on effects on our own platforms as well.”"
What does this mean for HBO Max?
Warner Bros. Discovery opting to provide content for a rival streaming service may understandably prompt questions about the future of the company’s own platform, HBO Max. The service will experience a major shift, but that doesn’t mean that WB will be left without a streaming vehicle. Instead, Max will become a new entity.
WBD’s Wiedenfels confirmed in March 2022 (via Variety) that the service would be merged with Discovery Plus, creating a different platform:
"“One of the most important items here is that we believe in a combined product as opposed to a bundle. […] So, right out of the gate, we’re working on getting the bundling approach ready, maybe a single sign-on, maybe ingesting content into the other product, etc., so that we can start to get some benefits early on. But the main thrust is going to be harmonizing the technology platform. Building one very, very strong combined direct-to-consumer product and platform, that’s going to take a while.”"
The new streaming service is scheduled to be available in spring 2023 (moved up from summer 2023). This merger seems to include HBO proper (there are two different apps for HBO and HBO Max), as Variety stated in its report of the merger:
"“Warner Bros. Discovery saw streaming subscriptions rise to nearly 95 million combined global customers across HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+ […] As the David Zaslav-led company works toward unifying the streaming platforms into one service next summer, […] Warner Bros. Discovery again decided not to break out HBO and HBO Max subscribers in its quarterly earnings results.”"
Having said that, it appears that, regardless of the merger, HBO will continue to exist, as CEO of global streaming and games Jean-Briac Perrette explained during an earnings call (via Variety): “HBO will always be the beacon and the ultimate brand that stands for television quality.”
Taking all of that information into consideration, Warner Bros. Discovery will continue to have its own streaming platform. Though it’s unclear what the new service will mean for the DC Universe, it’s reasonable to assume it will include DC projects, given the plan for the franchise to also be comprised of TV series.
What do you think about Warner Bros.’ new deal with Amazon for DC Animation? What do you think about the future of HBO Max? Let us know in the comments!