A Real Platinum Edition: Scott Rosenberg talks Platinum Studios deal with Disney

Mon, September 22nd, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Arune Singh, Staff Writer

[Platinum Studios]You might have heard of Platinum Studios. And maybe you haven't.

But when founder Scott Mitchell Rosenberg- don't call him Mitch- makes a deal with Disney (and we know you've heard of them) and is also involved with comics by Alan Moore, Jeph Loeb, Marv Wolfman, Dean Motter, Rick Veitch, Ben Dunn and Steven Grant, chances are fans will have to know him.

If you're not familiar with Rosenberg, he's been long involved with the comic book world before the recent project developments with those big name creators. He founded Malibu Comics, helping the Image founders to take their first foray into independent publishing, and then brought "Men In Black" to the attention of Sony. Needless to say, he's probably made Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones very happy.

So what is Platinum Studios? It's a comics-to-film based entertainment company focused on comic book characters and stories. Platinum's comics division options existing comics-and takes pitches from comics creators for new stories, which Platinum may publish (licensing domestic and international distribution through a variety of publishers) or subsidize for self-publication (if that's the creator's preference). At the same time, the Platinum development division develops these comics projects for live-action and animated feature film and TV.

Radar by Alex Ross Radar by Adam Pollina
So what does this have to do with Disney? Well, it was reported in "Variety" that Rosenberg had secured a first-look deal with Disney and was looking for prospective creators to pitch their ideas. While the latter sounds great, the "First Look" phrase is still new to many fans and so Rosenberg defined it for CBR News.

"Basically, our deal is that we have to go to them first with a project, and they have the right to option it or pass on it," he explains. "The studios all have different personalities (and even those personalities change with changes in administration or ownership), so when we review a comic proposal, we think to ourselves 'where can this work?" However, we are obliged (and this is a good thing) to show it to Disney first. It's a good thing because it's focused, and because Disney then really considers the project. Why? Because the executives and development people there know that the deal has already been blessed by business affairs and the higher ups, so if they like the project, they know there'll be no hassle and no long negotiations to get it.

"It's also good because in our case Disney is willing to look at multiple submissions, even by the same creator, as long as we can vouch for that creator's ability to make a good comic book. Since we have terrific editorial abilities and a track record, if we tell Disney that we can produce a good comic if they do a show, then they know we can."

Right off the bat, a major concern of some is obviously creator rights and how much one retains the rights- and let's face it, profits- to their creation once Platinum Studios gets a chance to look over the proposal. "It depends on the deal," Rosenberg admits. "If we're optioning a pre-existing or upcoming comic that we're not financing, then they would retain comic publishing rights (and probably rights allowing them to do anything they were already doing with their character -- e.g. if it's already a children's book, or a toy). Also, if we don't end up being able to make the property into a film, tv show etc, then the rights revert to them.

"If we're financing or publishing the comic, then rights revert later on.

"....and, of course, they participate financially as well as creatively."

"Quagmire, USA"
The report in "Variety" stressed the animation deal with Disney and Platinum Studios is definitely still looking for live-action pitches (which doesn't mean performing your series concept in front of Rosenberg), but CBR News will touch on that after exploring the animation concepts that Rosenberg's announced.

The first one is most familiar to comic book fans and is entitled, "Radar, The Hound Supreme." Rosenberg notes that Radar was created by Alan Moore as part of his dramatic reinvention of the Awesome Comics universe. Radar is a real-world dog who gets super-powers-including the ability to talk. The difference from Krypto, Superman's pet, would be that this dog does indeed act like a dog and not a human in a dog's body. But speaking of keeper's, does this mean that Supreme might himself make an appearance in the show to rein in Radar?

"We can't reveal it just yet," he teases.

Still, this show about the talking dog is not just for kids and while it may be clichéd, Rosenberg feels it's for all who are kids at heart. "Well, let's say kids of all ages. I'm not so sure we're going to aim to 9 year olds. [laughs] I've always loved Radar, and we've recently figured out some interesting story approaches."

The other proposal mentioned in "Variety" is "Quagmire, USA" by popular "Ameri-manga" creator Ben Dunn, whose most popular work is "Ninja High School" and continues to go strong to this day. "At Malibu, we fell in love with 'Ninja High School' and started publishing it for Ben/Antarctic Press as of issue #5," Rosenberg says. "When I sold Malibu to Marvel, Ben and I spoke, and we decided that 'NHS' was best staying in his hands. We never looked at it from the standpoint of adapting it to TV or features. I just love his creations, and I think the town of Quagmire is where to focus."

Anime fans take note, the description of this show seems to indicate there's a lot of elements that might attract you TO this latest Dunn creation. "Quagmire is a seemingly ordinary small town that's the site of every wild, wacky adventure imaginable, from ninja princesses to steam-powered robots, talking animals, or weird creatures from outer space."

"Quagmire's" Leeanna "Quagmire's" Ninja Robot "Quagmire's" Prof. Steamhead
But will it be a traditional anime style series, an American style animated series or a mix like "Powerpuff Girls" and "Teen Titans?" "We can't really say yet. Sorry," says Rosenberg.

There's also nine more animated projects that Platinum Studios is developing from comics, some for all ages, and some definitely not for kids, though once again, Rosenberg can't comment on specifics for a couple weeks. But he's glad to talk about Kaaren Brown, an animation industry veteran, and explains why she was brought aboard. "She's (and other producer deals) helping us to handle more submissions and more development. We were tapped out time-wise previously, which was why we were discouraging animation submissions. And she has great animation development talents, as she's been on the licensing, developing and buying sides."

It's safe to say a lot of you are still wondering how you pitch to Platinum- and that'll be touched upon- but Rosenberg wants to stress that he's looking for live action proposals as well. With shows like "Jeremiah," under his belt, he has two launches in store that he feels will be big. The first is "Cowboys & Aliens," which is described as, "the highly anticipated Sony big-budget tentpole movie, based on the upcoming Platinum graphic novel." And then there's the familiar "Prime," based on the Malibu Comic character who was 13 year-old Kevin Green who had the power to turn into a mighty adult, but always while retaining the mind of his 13 year-old self.

So when you're pitching to Platinum, one thing that Rosenberg asks for is persistence. "We love persistence," he says emphatically. "If we encourage a creator to come back with other projects/pitches, even if we passed on one of theirs, then we mean it-we only say that to creators we feel can pull it off. Some of our favorite creators have pitched us 50 - 100 concepts, which resulted in several options from studios and comics being produced. It's also fine to re-pitch us projects we passed on previously (we weren't looking for animated properties previously). Tastes change. A pass in February doesn't mean it's also a pass the following year!"

He says that there's no limit to how many pitches he'd love to see from the creative types and comments, "Resubmitting is something we typically encourage, as what our needs are one year aren't necessarily the same the following year. Plus, we may have been thinking a certain genre, and a year later, we or the creator might have a different spin on how the property could be a film.

"Dylan Dog" "Meet the Haunteds"
"It's all easy. Go to www.platinumstudios.com and hit the 'Submissions' button on our nav bar. Read through, and send an e-mail to Lee Nordling, who heads our comic development, and he'll mail off a submission packet (submission release forms are required).

"Lee will also send the most current description of the types of live-action and animated concepts that we're most looking for."

The man behind many comic book related successes isn't just confident about this newest venture with Disney because he's talking to the press- he genuinely feels that he's in contact with the kind of creative people who have the ideas that will really excite people. "I think the success will come from unexpected places. It'll be the idea that seemed like it wouldn't work, or comes out of left field.

"And in some cases (we hope in many cases), we'll figure out live action ways into the stories."

As an added bonus, expect Rosenberg to help you try to get toys of your pitch on the shelves of stores next to "Power Rangers: Ninja Storm" and those other popular sellers. "Definitely. You should see my office. Toys everywhere."

CBR News

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