CBMB: Will “Synergy” Lead to DC and Marvel Combining Forces | FanboysInc

CBMB: Will “Synergy” Lead to DC and Marvel Combining Forces

By Muuka Muyumba

After we watched Fox mega-billionaire, media-mogul Rupert Murdoch try and fail to acquire Time/Warner, news is trickling out that Murdoch wasn’t just chasing a dream, indeed Time/Warner may be up for grabs to the highest bidder.

Yesterday, a Hollywood Reporter article posited that Time Warner may still be a target, but now for the richest man in China. Wang Jianlin, founder of real estate giant Wanda Group and China’s wealthiest person, may have a chance at bidding for the media conglomerate as he works his way into Hollywood after acquiring the North American cinema chain AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion in 2013. Wanda is now the world’s largest movie distributor and Jianlin has the capital to be in Murdoch’s ballpark to offer for Time Warner.

After rejecting Murdoch’s advances, Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes, in a second-quarter earnings call with shareholders and the press, stated that his “mission” was to convince his listeners that the company had a strategic plan for remaining independent despite an incredible proposal that could have created a $150 billion entertainment behemoth (and lined the pockets of many of the company’s shareholders).

During the call, Bewkes touted HBO’s and Turner’s revenue growth as evidence that their strategy was working. He also pumped up the launch of Cinemax’s new series The Knick, the “next generation” of HBO Go, the ability of Warner Bros to create film franchises like The Lego Movie. Of particular note to fanboys, Bewkes noted that Time Warner will “mine DC [Comics] catalog across businesses.”

Fanboys began panting and sweating about the unrealistic prospect of Superman and Wolverine in the same movie when the Murdoch news broke, not understanding that Marvel Studios and Disney would never allow it.

However wild the Fox/Marvel and DC notion might have been before Murdoch rescinded his offer, the Hollywood Reporter only added gas to this flame of an idea when their Wanda article suggested that another possible suitor for Time Warner is Disney(!) among others*.

Marvel and DC together in the same company is a novel concept, but belies the notion of whether those two behemoths of content would stifle each other. Currently, the future release calendar from 2016 to 2020 has a remarkable 17 untitled superhero movies — not to mention another 21 untitled animated tentpoles. In an era where content is king, Disney would dominate the film landscape in virtually every month of the calendar year with a superhero tentpole ready for launch, if they were to acquire Time Warner.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Disney may not be able to ignore one of Time/Warner’s biggest brands: CNN, which despite its lousy reputation as an arbiter of news, has the news coverage machine that could make Disney an even greater global monolith.

In contrast, the idea feels more far-fetched when you consider that Disney already has an incredible global reach with ESPN and ABC News (as well as the various local ABC affiliates). However, could the temptation be too great to turn away?

What would life be like in a world where DC and Marvel are under the same masthead? The better question may be how DC’s brand fits into Disney’s big screen plans. As Disney entertainment president, Robert Iger has noted his desire for “brands” within Disney that engender a certain amount of familiarity, excitement and profitability through sequels as well as spin-offs including toys, television shows, digital media and theme park attractions.

Consider that Disney now owns Star Wars, Marvel, Jim Henson’s Studios, and Pixar. That’s your whole childhood.

In thinking about a Disney acquisition of DC, consider Lucasfilm, which ultimately meant synergy through streamlining Star Wars content under a clear Disney/Lucasfilm direction. Disney wanted to draw back in all the Star Wars content that had been in disparate places like Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series with Warner Bros., Disney halted all LucasArt development on electronic gaming allowing EA to take over , and Disney grabbed up all Lucasfilm book publishing.

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Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and Disney then set about rebooting their film franchise by defining all that was canon and discarding what they believe was not across those different platforms. Gone was much of the last 30+ years of fan fiction from what had been a vibrant publishing catalog for the franchise. Clone Wars ended first on Cartoon Network, and then through Netflix for the last season to be retooled into Star Wars Rebels (possibly a harbinger to the Marvel/Netflix arrangement for new content).

Going forward, Lucasfilm has begun mapping out the narrative future of Star Wars storytelling that will appear on film and television and in other media so that all projects will benefit from real-time collaboration and alignment (in other words, by taking a Marvel Studios approach). Despite all of this change, Lucasfilm still remains the mouthpiece for anything Star Wars-related, now just under Disney’s mantle.

Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios have also enjoyed similar autonomy (primarily bred by success) within the House of Mouse.

So, what would it be like for DC to be in the house too? Well, we’d definitely see DC heroes in the Disney Infinity video game…

Time Warner/Turner/CNN/DC would definitely undergo significant restructuring. In the case of DC, we would likely have a Kevin Feige-like or Kathleen Kennedy-like figure-head put in charge of their restructuring and setting a new course for the future of the DC brand (something that fanboys have been clamoring for since Man of Steel debuted).

What would scare me would be whether Disney would see what any business person might: Marvel and DC basically do the same thing, so why not put them under one heading. Turning them from “distinguished competitors” into a giant catalog of superheroes, characters, concepts, storylines, which could be combed for great movies and TV. Have a Hawkeye/Arrow TV show, or worse, turn them into one character in the Marvel/DC universe that is connected to the cinematic universe, where they join the Justice Avengers!

Yikes, just writing this gives me the heebie jeebies (but these designs are cool!).

Ultimately, the likelihood of a DC/Marvel shared universe is not high, in my opinion, but one never knows in this day and age of content-acquisition and brand-recognition. Could Disney buy Time Warner, or just DC’s brand for that matter? Sure.

Content’s reign of dominance in the American entertainment business model makes these kinds of rumors more plausible than ever.

*Reporter Clifford Coonan also suggests that Google and Apple may also be in consideration.