Inside DC Comics' Secret Vault: Batman, Superman and New York-to-Burbank Move (Photos)
From movie props to pinball machines to over 100,000 comics, THR found and photographed some of the most influential (and valuable) figures in Hollywood history.
This story first appeared in the July 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
At first, the idea seemed unthinkable: DC Entertainment, one of two big comic book companies based in New York (along with Marvel), announced in 2013 that it would leave its home of nearly 80 years for the headquarters of parent Warner Bros. in Burbank, more than 3,000 miles away.
"It was the most difficult decision of my career," says DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson, who made the call knowing many longtime employees would not be able to follow. But as the division has become more important to Warners' film, television and games businesses — in the fall, seven live-action TV shows will be based on DC characters, and an ambitious slate of interconnected films will begin with 2016's Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice — it made sense to put all 230 employees under one roof.
The move west didn't merely uproot the staff; it also meant a cross-country trip for DC's celebrated library on Broadway, which was stored in a vault and included nearly every comic the company has published as well as a collection of licensed merchandise and oddities. (Collectively, DC's copies of the first appearances of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are worth more than $2 million.)
Special movers, working with Warner Bros. Archives, packed nearly 100,000 comics and 8,000 hardcover books into 600 boxes, and a security team escorted them to a giant truck in mid-March. DC executives tracked the vehicle via GPS, and another security team oversaw the collection's unloading. "It was like medevacking the heart from New York to Burbank," says Nelson.
To chronicle the move, DC invited THR to visit the library on both ends of its journey.
On April 13, DC's cross-country move was complete when employees showed up at the company's 35,000-plus-square-foot space at The Pointe, a Burbank office park down the street from the Warner Bros. lot. The new headquarters for Batman and Superman is classic California — bright and open — compared with its cramped, brown space in New York. DC occupies the second, third and half of the ninth floors, with its library vault housed on the first floor of the building — which also is home to Legendary Entertainment, Los Angeles public television station KCET and FremantleMedia North America.
Executives from other Warners divisions can visit and take meetings in DC's space, and the occasional star or athlete who wants to check out the collection can pop in for a peek. (The allure has generated talk of exhibiting some of the library's key pieces more prominently, though no plans have been drawn.)
Overall, the move went as smoothly as possible, with no major damage to the collection reported. Nelson, whose office door boasts a transparent Wonder Woman image, says the new environment has affected employees and their work: "There's a happiness that comes with being so close to the studio — seeing people they haven't seen on a regular basis — and being in a creative space that feels like a comic company."