Constantine Co-Creator: We Won't Get Paid for NBC Pilot


If you're one of the fans who's been posting to Steve Bissette's Facebook wall to say he'll be rolling in dough now that his most famous character is headed to TV, maybe pull back the throttle on that enthusiasm just a bit; it'll be a while, if ever, before anybody gets rich off the show. It appears as though Alan Moore, Jamie Delano and Steve Bissette, the three men credited with the creation of John Constantine in the pages of Saga of the Swamp Thing, will see no money from the currently-in-development TV pilot being developed based on the character at NBC. Bissette took to social media today to both express his discontent with, and then explain, the decision by Warner Bros., which says basically that the TV series is being developed based on the same option that was picked up and turned into the feature film starring Keanu Reeves back in 2005, for which the creators have already been paid. If the pilot goes to series, then the royalty structure is such that the creators may see some money down the line, but according to Bissette that's dependent on the series being successful enough for the money to "trickle down" (presumably by some fiscal threshold being met). Here's the statement from Bissette, who concedes that while frustrating, "it's pretty typical option language. Studios lock down such rights as a matter of practice, and have for well over three decades now.":

As of this morning, it appears there will be NO payment to the Constantine creators for this series. This option apparently rolled out of the already-paid-for option for the CONSTANTINE movie in the 1990s. Thus, we'll only see $$ waaaay down the road, it appears, IF this series makes it to being a series. If it makes money. If it trickles down. Will update you if/as we learn more. But we will see $$ from any comics/graphic novels sold from the spillover of interest, FYI. Hollywood accounting: gotta love it.

This is presumably because the language of the option supersedes any royalty agreement that they may contractually be entitled to based on their creation of the character. He notes that ancillary benefits like additional royalty from increased trade paperback sales as a result of the TV deal will obviously still go to the creators as stipulated in their original contracts. Recently, when Gerry Conway discovered that Arrow was using a minor character he had created during his run on Firestorm as a recurring player on the hit CW drama (that would be Felicity Smoak), he launched a blog to help other creators understand their contractual rights, which are apparently somewhat specific and arcane. According to Conway, DC's standard contract allows for payments to creators in almost every case when a character they created out of whole cloth is used in non-comics media such as movies, TV and video games--but the creator themself has to become aware of the use and invoice DC for the amount owed; the publisher and/or Warner Bros. will not automatically cut a check.