DC Animation Should Make a Theatrical Feature and it Should be The Killing Joke
I’ve said before to anyone who would listen that DC Animation should release a theatrical feature. They haven’t done one since practically their first all the way back in 1993 with Batman: Mask of the Phantasm which was more or less a spin-off of Batman: The Animated Series and had a fairly limited theatrical release. Since then, they’ve released several other spin-off movies for Batman: TAS, Batman Beyond, and Superman: TAS before releasing their first stand-alone Superman movie Doomsday in 2007 based on the Death and Return of Superman comic book arc. Their very next one, Justice League: The New Frontier would be their first PG-13 rated feature. In the following years, they’ve released 15 other straight-to-home-video animated movies based on other popular comic book runs as well as a handful of short films included on some of the DVDs. The stories they tell in these animated features are much more like what you would find in a Japanese Anime movie, these aren’t kids films, they are grown up stories based on well written comics. They are done on a direct-to-home-video budget, but it is used efficiently and often has some amazingly high quality animation, as well as a superbly chosen voice cast. Marvel is dominating the box office while DC is hit and miss, and I think a well placed animated movie could be a great selling point for DC.
I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, I’m not a comic book guy. But even I’ve heard about the Killing Joke. It’s one of the darkest and also the greatest Batman story arcs out there. There’s a reason why it’s reportedly the only comic book Tim Burton had read before doing his Batman, and it was the comic given to Heath Ledger by Christopher Nolan before the Dark Knight. And it’s a story that would easily convince two of the greatest Batman related voice-actors to reprise their iconic roles with both Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker. Fans of the animation will rejoice in that casting, and people who aren’t in the know don’t need a marquee name to sell Batman, Batman is his own marquee name. DC Animation has also been slowly pushing the limits of what is allowed in an animated PG-13 rating, there is quite a bit of violence in both the Dark Knight Returns and the Flashpoint Paradox. I would imagine that to do the Killing Joke the right way, it would have to be rated “R”, and I think that’s a good idea. It would help to sell DC’s darker image, and it would allow them to continue the trend in their animated home video releases. Not only that, but the marketing for this movie would help to boost the awareness and sales of their already released titles. I also think that this would be the perfect title to be released in theaters under an “R” rating because of the fact that the word “killing” is right there in the title, so clueless parents would have little reason to think that because it’s “Batman” that it’s automatically ok for kids to watch.
According to the estimates on IMDB, these animated features have a $3 million budget. The animation and voice acting is already just about where it needs to be, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to expand the budget to $10-15 million. The lengths of these features usually run 75 minutes, so that would need to be expanded to 90-100 minutes, or even a little more which would be about the length of both parts of the Dark Knight Returns. Even if it’s a hard sell, there’s no way it doesn’t walk away with $40-50 million at the box office, minimum. Plus all the eventual sales of the DVD/Blu-ray and the higher profile of all their current and future titles. What do you say, are you listening DC? Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.