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DC Entertainment’s Diane Nelson: Grilled

”I’m the first to admit, I’m not by my nature a comic fan. What I bring to the party is a skill at moving properties and brands.“

Warner Brothers announced on Wednesday that Diane Nelson would head a new division at the studio, DC Entertainment.  Coming on the heels of Disney’s acquisition of Marvel, the move puts a whole new emphasis on comic book-oriented entertainment. Nelson got grilled by TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman.

Was this announcement planned for today?
It’s something we’ve been discussing and planning for nearly a year. We wanted it before Labor Day – but then Marvel and Disney announced and we thought –

What did you think of that?
It is good. One, my hat is off to them. Bob Iger is great. I have nothing but respect for them. I’m glad we were thinking along the same lines without having to pay $4 billion. I think it’s good for the whole industry.

Because it validates your own thinking?
The notion of being able to take a library like DC’s — a deep and broad one — and have many characters that go far beyond the superheroes we know. The most prominent ones are the tip of the iceberg. This is about content driving an entertainment company.

How many characters does DC have?
When we saw Marvel deal I posed the question. We’re not sure how they got to that number (5,000). The answer was — if you factor in the alternate universes, there are an infinite number of characters.

You don’t want to be quoted saying there are an infinite number of characters, do you?
We have reason to believe it’s even bigger than Marvel.

So: a girl running a comic book operation? Isn’t this a young, male-centric market?
I prefer to be known as an executive rather than a girl.  It’s not gone without comment in the blogosphere. But I have to tell you, I’ve been really encouraged by the commentary in comic book world.

But I’m the first one to admit, I’m not by my nature a comic fan. It’s not what I’m bringing to the party. We have so many experts who will remain the cornerstone of DC Entertainment. What I bring to the party is a skill at moving properties and brands through Time Warner as a company.

What do you seek to accomplsih? How will you gauge success?
I will be measured on the p&l. We will be watching and tracking this business very specifically, and I will be focused on incremental value to the company from this new organization.

But additionally it will be about how invested our content distribution is in the DC library.  If our businesses feel that they have greater access and enthusiasm for new characters to incubate.

Will Superman and Batman come under DC Entertainment?
Unlike Marvel, we are not setting up redundant organizations for expertise that exists. We will track all DC properties to measure financial success.

What does that mean?
In first quarter 2010 we will talk more specifically about organization and business plan, and our content slate — including a theatrical slate and content for television and other places. The important thing is, we are not creating a stand-alone production group that is developing movies.

Do you anticipate more comic book movies emerging from this move?
I imagine — more content activity behind the DC properties — including movies.

But you don’t know which ones yet?
We’re not prepared to talk about that.

This does help define Warner Brothers’ priorities – the end of of Warner Independent, the rise of DC Entertainment?
It’s been very encouraging to watch the company’s focus and prioritization change. It’s quite a big deal for the future of our company. It will be such an engine for all our content.

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