Monday, July 13, 2009

PLANET GRIFFIN'S BIG BUZZ: Will We Still Believe That A Man Can Fly In 2013?

PLANET GRIFFIN continues its menace of the pop culture landscape with THE BIG BUZZ! The hot talk around the entertainment circle right now is the District court ruling on the case involving WARNER BROS./DC COMICS versus the Heirs of Superman co-creator, JEROME SIEGEL.

Apparently, the 'Siegel heirs' contended that DC Comics had made a 'sweet deal' with Warner Bros. involving licensing fees paid to DC surrounding the 2006 release of 'Superman Returns'... DC earned 13.6 million from the films' total earnings. The heirs claim that DC was 'unfair' in their dealings in 1999 when they 'sliced up the Superman pie' with Warner Bros.... (Keep in mind, the Siegel heirs won a ruling a year ago when they were awarded half the copyright for the Superman material.)

Get this: Feature film rights- 1.5 million upfront, 18.5 million for option extensions over the next 31 years, 5 percent of first dollar worldwide distribution gross (foreign rights) or 7.5 percent domestic gross (American rights)--- whichever is larger. Also, the TV rights for 'Smallville' in 2000: 45,000 per episode, 3 percent of the gross for the first 1.5 million and 5 percent thereafter.

The Judge said in his 30-page ruling that there was "insufficient evidence that the 'Superman' film agreement between DC Comics and Warner Bros., whether judged by its direct economic terms or its indirect ones, was consummated at below its fair market value." In making such a decision, the judge looked at the licensing deals for properties like IRON MAN, X-MEN, and SPIDER MAN as well.

In a written statment by copyright claims attorney Anthoy Toberoff, the heirs of Siegel and Shuster will own the entire Superman copyright in 2013, effectively taking the iconic character out of the hands of DC Comics AND Warner Bros., if they so choose.
Anyone seeking to use the character after that time would have to acquire an exclusive license from the Siegels and Shusters.

The Court pointedly ruled that if Warner Bros. does not start production on another Superman film by 2011, the Siegels will be able to sue to recover their damages. The Siegels look forward to the remainder of the case, which will determine how much DC Comics will owe them for their exploitations of Superman. The bad news of something like this is that the studios may rush a new production, resulting in another weak film adaptation.

Now... Maybe it's just me, but with the current friction stemming between DC and the Heirs, a move like 2013 could very well change the landscape of mainstream comics, and DC knows it. Imagine DC Comic properties WITHOUT Superman... Imagine Supes being published under ANOTHER imprint... Unthinkable, right? Heh.



samax said...

i think the Seigels/Shusters will make a deal with DC. but it will be from a position of strength. if that isn't their plan, it should be. even though what they are doing makes me feel jubilant, there are more people who will hate them if they effectively turn Superman into an indie property.

i think they want to win the case so they can have the high hand to make a deal.

RodBuddah said...

I can see that. The possible backlash would be harsh and unforgiving... Superman's too ingrained in comic lore to suddenly become a VH1 Special.

Besides, nobody would give up that kind of revenue.