EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is making a big move in digital with one of its flagship brands. Warner Bros and DC Entertainment are behind a new, DC-branded service that will debut in 2018 with two high-profile comic book-themed original TV series: the live-action Titans, from the king of the CW DC universe Greg Berlanti, Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns, Sarah Schechter and Warner Bros TV, and the anticipated revival of cult animated series Young Justice, from Warner Bros Animation. It will be titled Young Justice: Outsiders.
The DC-branded direct-to-consumer digital platform, in the works for the past several months, marks the second major new service launched by Warner Bros Digital Networks — the division started last year with the mandate of building WB-owned digital and OTT video services — following the recently introduced animation-driven Boomerang. The DC-branded platform is expected to offer more than a traditional OTT service; it is designed as an immersive experience with fan interaction and will encompass comics as well as TV series.
Titans, written by Goldsman (Star Trek: Discovery, Underground), DC Entertainment president & chief creative officer Johns (The Flash, Arrow) and Berlanti (Arrow, DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow, The Flash, Supergirl), explores one of the most popular comic book teams ever. It follows a group of young soon-to-be superheroes recruited from every corner of the DC Universe. In the action-adventure series, Dick Grayson emerges from the shadows to become the leader of a fearless band of new heroes that includes Starfire, Raven and others.
Goldsman, Johns and Berlanti Prods’ Berlanti and Schechter (Arrow, DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow, The Flash, Supergirl) executive produce Titans, from Weed Road Pictures and Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros Television.
A live-action Titans was originally ordered as a pilot by Warner Bros TV sibling TNT in 2014, with Goldsman writing the adaptation alongside Marc Haimes. The regime change at TNT put the project in limbo, and it ultimately did not go forward.
WBTV and DC then brought Titans under the purview of Berlanti, who oversees all four DC/WBTV superhero drama series on the CW as well as the CW Seed DC animated series Constantine. Berlanti teamed for what is a new take on the Titans characters with Goldsman and Johns, who also co-wrote The Flash pilot with Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg. There was stong interest in the project from outside, including from an SVOD provider, but Warner Bros opted to make the show a cornerstone of the new DC digital service.
In Young Justice: Outsiders, the teenage superheroes of the DC Universe come of age in an animated world of superpowers, super villains and super secrets. In the new season, the team faces its greatest challenge as it takes on meta-human trafficking and the terrifying threat it creates for a society caught in the crossfire of a genetic arms race spanning the globe and the galaxy.
Sam Register (Teen Titans Go!) is executive producing. The show’s creators Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman are producers; with the series’ Phil Bourassa also returning to serve as art director.
Praised by critics and DC fans for its impressive visuals and rich storytelling, Young Justice aired for two seasons on Cartoon Network, from 2010-2013, before it was cancelled, triggering a crowdfunding effort to bring it back. The series won a primetime Emmy for Individual Achievement in Animation for Bousassa for the “Independence Day” episode in 2011.
Following months of speculation, Warner Bros Animation last November announced it has begun production on a third season of all-new episodes. At the time there was no network, with the series testing the marketplace, and was rumored as a possibility for Netflix, which carries the existing two seasons of Young Justice. But Warner Bros decided to run Young Justice: Outsiders on the new DC platform.
Titans marks the first live-action series in the digital space for DC Entertainment, which has seven broadcast series on the air, Supergirl, Arrow, Flash, DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow and iZombie on the CW, and Gotham and Lucifer on Fox.
The use of established titles with strong fan following like Titans and Young Justice to jump-start the new DC-branded service is reminiscent of CBS’ bet on a new Star Trek series and a Good Wife spinoff, The Good Fight, for its CBS All Access as new platforms aften rely on built-in awareness and name recognition to stand out in the competitive digital space.