A new report indicates that DC Comics and DC Universe are undergoing massive layoffs with multiple high level executives being let go.
This new report from The Hollywood Reporter comes just days after WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar explained that he was restructuring the company in order to “streamline decision-making.”
Not only did he explain the restructuring was to “streamline decision-making,” but he also told The Hollywood Reporter (THR) it was to adapt to market changes. Kilar stated, “So what these changes are largely about is me feeling very strongly that where a media company should go in terms of the future is to orient themselves as a consumer oriented company.”
He then detailed, “These changes represent prioritizing three different things. Number one, a consumer orientation far more than a wholesale orientation. Number two, going direct-to-consumer. And number three, going global.”
Kilar was also asked if there would be layoffs and he noted there would be. He stated, “We’re not talking about layoffs specifically but obviously there will be layoffs just given the nature of what we’re doing here.”
Well, it looks like those layoffs came sooner than expected for DC Comics and DC Universe.
THR reports that Editor-in-Chief Bob Harris. Senior Vice President of Publishing Strategy and Support Services Hank Kanalz, Vice President of Marketing and Creative Services Jonah Weiland, Vice President Global Publishing Initiatives and Digital Strategy Bobbie Chase, Senior Story Editor Brian Cunningham and Executive Editor Mark Doyle were all axed.
In fact, they report that “roughly one third of DC’s editorial ranks are being laid off, according to sources.”
A separate report from Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston also detailed a number of others who were axed including editor Andy Khouri, Jim Lee’s Executive Assistant Eddy Choi, International Publishing, Ad Sales & Custom Creative Studio’s Sandy Resnick, Marketing Director Sara Haskell.
Johnston added that Director of Publicity Michael Shelling and Vice President of Comic Book Specialty & Newsstand Sales Jim Skolowski also lost their jobs.
While DC Comics was significantly hit THR also adds that “insiders also say the majority of the staff of the streaming service DC Universe has been laid off, a move that had been widely expected as WarnerMedia shifts its focus to new streaming service HBO Max.”
Layoffs also hit DC Direct as well according to THR’s report.
As for Jim Lee it appears he will remain as the Chief Creative Officer for now.
However, Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston indicates that Lee will eventually transition out of the position. He details that Marie Javins, who is the current Executive Editor of Global Publishing Initiatives & Digital Strategy, and current Vice President and Executive Editor of DC Children/Young Adult Michele Wells have been promoted to run DC Comics’ publishing and will report directly to Jim Lee.
As for how this will affect DC Comics lineup, Johnston indicates Batman, Justice League, and Superman will more than likely continue as well as their digital line and their original graphic novel line.
He also notes that DC Comics will put a “greater emphasis on digital and bookstore rather than the comic book shop.”
These layoffs come after AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson detailed on the company’s third-quarter conference call with investors back in October 2019 that the company had no sacred cows.
Stephenson explained, “We’re committed to an objective, diligent and disciplined process. We’ll analyze the merits of each of our businesses individually and as a part of the whole. But let me be clear, we have no sacred cows.”
He even indicated that fat trimming would be on the horizon. He stated, “We have routinely pruned the portfolio of assets that don’t contribute to our core strategy. In fact, when you conclude what we’ve done in 2019, we’ve monetized more than $30 billion in non-strategic assets over the last few years.”
“You should expect continued evaluation of our businesses and more progress on divesting assets that are no longer core to our fundamental mission,” he added.
More recently in March, there was speculation that DC Comics might actually be sold off or see its characters licensed off to other publishing companies.
Motley Fool writer Leo Sun would even detail that DC Comics’ publishing business wasn’t worth a lot to AT&T claiming it only accounted for 0.2% of AT&T’s annual revenue. While Sun would write that “it doesn’t really matter if the company keeps or sells the business,” he argued that they would more than likely keep it because the “comic book storylines could still provide valuable fodder for future TV and film projects at WarnerMedia.”
What do you make of these reported massive layoffs at DC Comics?