The legal battle between the heirs of Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel and the companies that house the Man of Steel, DC Comics and Warner Bros., has finally reached a decision.
On Wednesday, Judge Stephen G. Larson ruled in favor of DC Comics and Warner Bros. in a suit filed by the heirs of Jerry Siegel, according to Variety. The Siegel family asserted that they are owed profits on “Superman Returns” due to a “sweetheart” deal between DC and the WB, but the court disagreed with the claim.
Yet, in what could be viewed as a silver lining for the Siegels and Shusters, the judge ruled that if production on a new “Superman” film does not begin by 2011, the families will be eligible to sue Warner Bros. for damages, as they will own the entire Superman copyright in 2013.
“[The] entire accounting action pales in comparison to the fact that in 2013, the Siegels, along with the estate of Joe Shuster, will own the entire original copyright to Superman, and neither DC Comics nor Warner Bros. will be able to exploit any new Superman works without a license from the Siegels and Shusters,” said Marc Toberoff, who represents the Siegels in the case.
“The Court pointedly ruled that if Warner Bros. does not start production on another Superman film by 2011, the Siegels will be able to sue to recover their damages,” he added.
The logical step for Warner Bros. and DC Comics, then, is to get started on the “Superman” reboot they announced last year, but as Warner Bros. chariman Alan Horn testified, there are no current developments on a sequel — no director, no script, nothing. Horn said that the very earliest another “Superman” film could be released was 2012.
He told the judge: "We had hopes to keep the character alive and to once again reinvent Superman. We are -- our hope is to develop a Superman property and to try again. What hurt us is that the reviews and so on for the Superman movie . . . did not get the kind of critical acclaim that Batman got, and we have other issues with Superman that concern us."
It becomes easy to see why DC/WB might suddenly halt other planned comic book films to focus all their attention on Superman. After all, he is the most recognized superhero in the world and anything released with his name on it is automatically going to have a better chance at ma$$ appeal.
But what can DC/WB do at this point? Developing and producing a Superman film takes a great deal of time and lots of money. And 2011 is NOT far away.
So, the big questions: Should DC/WB try to push out one more Superman movie before the legal deadline? Should they try to go live action, or focus on an animated feature like the upcoming "Superman/Batman: Public Enimies?" Should they be in backrooms right now, trying to beg the Shuster/Siegel heirs to cut them a new deal before Superman ends up playing for team Marvel (it is possible)?
More news to come! Catch ya' later!
Sources: Variety, The Geek Files, MTV News, Screen Rant