While the announcement of a Constantine series on NBC may be good news for Warner Bros.’ DC Comics-based television plans — the project joins Gotham and the Arrow spinoff The Flash on the agenda — it won’t mean immediate financial benefit for the creators of the fan-favorite character. It seems those media rights are part of an earlier deal.
“As of this morning, it appears there will be NO payment to the Constantine creators for this series,” Stephen R. Bissette, who created John Constantine with Alan Moore and John Totleben, wrote Monday on his Facebook page. “This option apparently rolled out of the already-paid-for option for the Constantine movie in the 1990s. Thus, we’ll only see $$ waaaay down the road, it appears, IF this series makes it to being a series. If it makes money. If it trickles down.”
The movie Bissette references is actually the 2005 supernatural action-thriller that starred Keanu Reeves as the cynical occult detective. Although the adaptation was lambasted by many fans for its casting of the American Reeves as the English Constantine and the liberties taken with the source material, it managed to gross more than $230 million worldwide on a reported $100 million budget. Its option apparently included sequel and television rights.
On the upside for the creators, the artist adds, “we will see $$ from any comics/graphic novels sold from the spillover of interest, FYI. Hollywood accounting: gotta love it.”
Of course, the announcement of a television project doesn’t necessarily mean it will ever make it to air; we don’t need to look past David E. Kelley’s much-publicized Wonder Woman revival, or the more recent Amazon effort at The CW for examples. However, in the case of Constantine, NBC has committed to a script plus penalty, meaning the network will have to pay a hefty fee to Warner Bros. Television is the pilot isn’t produced and aired.
(via The Hollywood Reporter)