Sam Ades, senior vice president and general manager of DC Universe, called it “the beginning of something. What we want to do is create what will be the ultimate DC experience.” The goal, he added, is to imbue the service with “the spirit of events like this, so people can experience that every day.”
The panel broke little news, outside of the revelation that the first comic book created for the platform will be Young Justice: Outsiders. Jim Lee, a longtime comic-book publisher who became Chief Creative Officer for DC Entertainment in July, said the “one-shot prequel” would be designed as a “10-foot experience” best enjoyed from the living-room couch. Other comic books ticketed for 2019 on DC Universe include Reign of the Supermen and Batman Hush.
Overall, the point of the gathering was to enable the Warner Bros. and DC brass to get fans pumped about the dawn of the streaming era. In an Oprah-esque move, they announced that each attendee would get a free year of DC Universe, a $75 value. Fans let out a long cheer, with some crying out, “I love you!” The service costs $8 a month when paid via a monthly plan instead of a one-year subscription.
DC Universe features comic books and interactive fan community features along with video series like Titans, which debuts October 12. Each week thereafter, a new show will be offered on the service.
In the three weeks since the platform has been live, about half a million comic book issues have been read, and 3 million pages, executives estimated, generating some 10,000 comments. They did not reveal any subscription numbers.
Patty Hirsch, SVP and GM for Warner Bros. Digital Labs, said, “Out of everything we do this is the most passionate fan base.” Asked by fans about the international rollout of the service, distribution through Amazon devices and full multi-platform functionality via Apple TV, all of which are not in effect at launch, Hirsch demurred. “Give us time,” she said.
The launch of the service, while a corporate priority for Warner Bros. and new parent AT&T at a time when media companies are accelerating their efforts to directly reach consumers, is also a labor of love for the team. Rob Kamphausen, VP of Product for Warner Bros. Digital Labs, recalled his first job out of college being as a DC intern. “I was freaking out when I found out I got it,” he said. “I’m freaking out now! This is fun.”
Geoff Johns, a longtime comic book writer and producer of shows like Titans who handed the reins to Lee over the summer as chief creative officer at DC, similarly joined Lee in an impromptu reverie during the panel. Rather than high-gloss, high-budget series capable of driving millions of subscriptions, they talked about retaining the old-fashioned aesthetic of comic-book geeks pulling out well-thumbed issues from under their beds.
“I want to do it so every time you read a comic book it gets a little more withered and old-looking and deteriorates,” Lee said to chuckles from the audience. Johns said, “Like a filter. Some tape on the side, a little rust on the staples.” Rejoined Lee, “I’ll take it back to the dev team.”