How Batman and the Bros. Modeled Media Conglomerates

The media industry was sent into a frenzy when Time, Inc. and Warner Communication’s Inc. announced a merger between the two media giants, right on the heels of Warner Bros. release of Batman in the summer of 1988. The film possessed not only a chart-topping soundtrack, but also the first of many successful DC Comics character film. This merger proved particularly profitable at this time because of the vertical and horizontal integration that provided them with broadcast, cable, publishing, music, video, and retail   channels that allowed them to, “Capitalize on all possible revenue streams and corporate holdings” (Holt 123). Later on the page, Holt explains:

“The union of Time’s publishing empire (which included Time, Life, People, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated) with Warner Bros.’s studio and production capacity created synergistic strategies for developing and marketing properties, particularly big-budget spectacles in wide release. The potential for combining a film studio and print holdings were the most publicly understood and widely covered by the press” 

This breakthrough approach to marketing and making money off of films became the standard as it was the most effect method of potential distribution and future licensing opportunities. While some see this practice as a fool-proof scheme, as more companies merged, more films were produced, and media platforms grew, the promotions began to suffocate their audiences. Look in any grocery store or super store and you’ll see anything from toothpaste, cereal, or bedsheets covered in recognizable characters that seem so commonplace until you question how much these companies are intending to influence their audience. Disney was recently criticized for this practice with their cartoon smash, Frozen, as,

‘”It brought the understanding back to retailers that they can sell a character license throughout the store,” but was also seen as “freezing out” other attractive licenses because retailers were too overwhelming in their support of Elsa and co. at the expense of placing other licensed goods on the shelf”‘

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The other plague of big studios seems to be their infatuation with turning one successful film into a mediocre franchise to squeeze as much profit out as possible. The ‘prequel’ is essentially the official last-ditch effort to make a profit before beating the dead horse that was the original film.


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