As part of the promotion for the just-announced Batman: Under the Red Hood animated movie, Bruce Timm was interviewed by Think McFly Think. In this piece, he reveals that
We had originally planned to do sequels for Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, but Wonder Woman’s sales started out extremely slow and then over time were eventually able to catch up to probably Justice League Frontier. The execs decided because it wasn’t able to sell quickly right away, whereas Justice League was, that there wouldn’t be any more female superhero films right now. We were developing and hoping to get started on a Batgirl film based on Year One, but because of Wonder Woman’s slow sales start, that won’t be happening now.
With Green Lantern, it didn’t perform nearly as well as what they had hoped it would. In the long run it eventually made its money back, but the sales weren’t there right away during its release. Hopefully with the release of the live action film next year, that will open up the doors for more Green Lantern-related material.
I’m very sorry we won’t see a Batgirl film, because I think I’d enjoy that. (Director Lauren Montgomery has a different explanation; she says the execs only want Superman or Batman lead stories.) This is typical executive thinking, by the way — it couldn’t be that the WW film wasn’t as good as the others (maybe) or the story was too familiar, it has to be that “girls don’t sell.” (If you can jump to a conclusion, as a movie exec, jump to the widest one possible.) And frankly, the way they’re presenting these movies, they *are* aimed at boys. For instance, take this other Timm quote, about Red Hood:
It’s definitely a very dark and intense movie, It’s not geared towards the “soccer moms”, or young kids. I’d say it deals with very serious subject matter, and it’s a very violent film.
Then comes discussion of what they may have to cut or tone down to keep their PG-13 rating, since Watchmen having tanked (his word) meant R-rated superheroes are a no-no for Warner’s executives and marketing team. Also, he reveals that the Judas Contract is a no-go, since “it was done recently [in the Teen Titans series], and it worked. It would be redundant to do something different right now.”
Getting back to the topic of sales, it’s interesting to note that both New Frontier (February 26) and Wonder Woman (March 3) came out in early spring, while Green Lantern (July 28) and Batman: Gotham Knight (July 8) were summer releases. The most recent DVD, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, came out February 23, so it would be interesting to know how those sales compared to WW, although a story with a whole team of heroes is going to interest more people than a solo hero. Personally, I would like to see more original stories — I don’t see the point of watching an animated adaptation of a comic you already know. A new story with favorite superheroes would be more exciting, I think, but requires more development costs.
Update: (4/28/10) The latest Warner marketing email brags that Under the Red Hood will be heavily advertised with “national ads [that] target males 18-34 and boys 13-17″. So yeah, girls don’t matter when it comes to superhero cartoons. Which shouldn’t surprise me. What does surprise me is the conviction that only females want to watch female heroes. Although that’s a common Hollywood idea, too.