Still from “The Batman,” an upcoming superhero film from Warner Bros.
Matt Reeves’ take on the Dark Knight won’t arrive in theaters until 2021, but that’s not stopping HBO Max from committing to giving the film its own expanded universe.
On Friday, the streaming service owned by AT&T announced that it had given a series commitment to a DC drama set in the Gotham City Police Department. Reeves, who is helming the film “The Batman,” is working alongside Terence Winter (“Boardwalk Empire), “The Batman” producer Dylan Clark and Warner Bros. Television.
The show is set to explore corruption in Gotham City, with the goal of launching a new Batman universe across multiple platforms. It’s unclear how much the television series will pull from established comic series like “Batman: GCPD” or “Gotham Central,” which focused on the detectives and officers in Gotham City during their runs.
It’s not surprising that HBO Max is leaning into the Batman mythos. Already, the CW has seen great success with its series of interconnected DC superhero shows. The network is jointly owned by CBS Entertainment, now part of ViacomCBS, and Warner Bros.
The CW has brought characters like Green Arrow, Super Girl, The Flash and Batwoman to the small screen. This new Batman show would not be connected to its CW counterparts and would differ from Fox’s “Gotham,” which followed the GCPD during the years before Bruce Wayne transformed into Batman.
If Reeves’ “The Batman” is a box office hit, the series could help HBO Max garner more subscribers to its service in the future and help inspire a number of other interconnected series or films.
The strategy is similar to what Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe is looking to achieve on Disney+. Disney is currently in production on a number of television programs featuring characters from its blockbuster films and new entries from the comics. The aim is to expand the universe of these characters through longer-form storytelling and entice subscribers to sign up for and stick with the Disney+ streaming platform.
Disney+ has seven television series tied to the Marvel Cinematic Universe slated for arrival in the next few years — “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “WandaVision,” “Loki,” “Hawkeye” and series featuring She-Hulk, Moon Knight and Miss Marvel.
As more players enter the streaming world, existing streamers will need to continue to innovate and launch projects that will lure consumers to their platforms. With so much competition in the space, streamers not only need to get the attention of consumers, but also must justify the prices of their services.