Article Source: Variety
So, according to the Variety article linked above, in the whole Siegel court case against Warner Bros. and DC Comics, the WB and DC won. Or did they? The point of the course case was that the Siegel’s accused DC Comics and Warner Bros. of, basically, doing under the table dealings in order for Warner Bros to make Superman movies and that WB didn’t pay normal market value for the property, and the license to make movie properties. In essence, it’s similar to the whole David Duchovny vs. 20th Century Fox deal, where he alleged that, by selling syndication rights to FX Network, owned by the same company as Fox television, he was screwed out of tons of money. The Warner Bros. film company and DC Comics are both owned by Time Warner, so the Siegels alleged that Warner Bros. was given a deal that they could have made more money on.
Read more and my thoughts after the jump.
However, the ruling of the court said otherwise. Based on market value, the rights for Superman were sold at a reasonable value from DC Comics to Warner Bros. Still, what at first glance seems to be a ruling on the side of the big boys (see the full ruling here) is much, much more when you look at the details. According to the ruling, Warner Bros. must start production on a new Superman film by 2011, or the Siegels can sue to recover the damages. In addition, in 2013, the Siegels (and the estate of Joe Shuster) will own the FULL copyright to Superman, and neither DC nor Warner Bros. can produce any original works without licensing from them.
Yes, what that essentially means is that the biggest superhero of all time, in 2013, will be a fully creator-owned character like Spawn, or Invincible and that, technically, new Superman works can be produced by whoever the Siegels/Shusters sell the license to (as long as they don’t reference the DC Comics tales).
I’m no lawyer, but this is HUGE. While I believe that many companies will scramble to try to gain the rights to SUPERMAN, I still think DC will end up being the ones publishing the book. However, based on dealings, I’d imagine that any appearance of Superman would come at a cost, essentially crippling Superman’s guest appearances in books beyond his own, which may be cut down to Action Comics and Superman. Of course this is purely speculation on my part, as DC may gladly pony up the dollars to not have to limit the number of Superman appearances/titles they have the ability to print. Still, in order to make up for the money they’re dishing out for what is essentially no longer a DC owned property, we may be looking as very big overhaul in the way Superman is published and written. The Superman titles do well, but I’d imagine they’d have to do REALLY well to make up for the cost.
In addition, we’re looking at a new Superman movie in production before 2011, that has to be released. They won’t just start a movie to cancel it. Why? Well, because then the Siegels can still sue them, and they’ll be liable for that money, and the money lost in making the film. We will definitely see a Superman movie, on it’s way to being released, before the end of 2011. Otherwise, Warner Bros is out of a lot of money. No idea what they’ll go with, I’m sure Superman pitches are a dime a dozen, so the trick will be deciding which one they can afford in today’s economy and still manage to make their money back.
Expect more thoughts from both Aron and I on this week’s Funnybooks with Aron and Paulie (listen to episode one here).