James Gunn Elaborates On What Might Happen When Superman Goes To Public Domain

DC Studios made its first big presentation of the DC Universe slate, and of course, standing front and center is the new Superman movie that Gunn himself is writing. While the cast and crew of the next Superman movie have a monumental task ahead of them relaunching the character, behind the scenes, the team at DC Studios still has some big issues to sort out. 

For instance: Superman is set to enter the public domain in the 2030s, according to US law, which currently states that works introduced before 1978 enter the public domain 95 years after first publication. That timetable is one that will see Disney having to challenge Public domain rights to Mickey Mouse in coming years, while DC and Warner Bros. will see their core Trinity cross that barrier. Superman will be up in 2034; Batman in 2035, and Wonder Woman in 2037. 

At the same time, legal and business analysts seem to mostly agree that there will be significant legal challenges to these statures, now that we're talking about characters that help to generate millions (if not billions) in revenue, and are core components of big business and film industry campaigns. 

(Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)

During DC Studios' presentation, James Gunn and Peter Safran had to take on the question of how DC is planning for Superman to possibly enter the public domain: 

QUESTION: "This is kind of a long-term question, but I mean, Superman is going to be entering the public domain in the decade from now. And you have a lot of classic characters that are going to be coming up with that issue. How is that ultimately impacting the way that you are defining who these characters are at this moment?"

JAMES GUNN: "Well, I mean, number one, it's a very complicated issue. It's not cut and dry. There's a lot of technical stuff around what pieces actually enter the public domain, which you may or may not know about. So there's that. But there's also that's one of the reasons why we have Superman and that's why we're bringing the Authority into mainstream. I mean, who would've thought 11 years ago the two most popular rides in the world are Guardians of the Galaxy ride. Two most popular rides in the world are based on a comic that f*cking 20,000 people knew. And so being able to try to create these other properties, use our diamonds, our Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, to prop up our Booster Golds or Green Lanterns or Plastic Mans or whatever is important."

At this point, it's hard to say which way the wind will blow on this. It definitely seems like the next big battleground in creative entertainment – when we get there.