WB creates virtual world for its brands


Holy digital, Batman! Warner Bros. Entertainment is transporting its slate of iconic characters to a new virtual world.

The destination, dubbed T-Works, will allow users to interact as avatars based on characters like the Caped Crusader from DC Comics as well as those from Warner Bros. Animation, Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Embedded in T-Works will be social networking, gaming, product integration and a video channel exhibiting classic cartoons.

"We have set aside a significant budget for digital development," Warner Bros. Animation president Lisa Judson said.

WBE's push into virtual territory reflects a growing interest among conglomerates in investing online beyond traditional dot-com holdings. Disney recently deepened its holdings in virtual worlds with the acquisition of Club Penguin, and Viacom has put its stamp in that arena via Nickelodeon and Neopets.

Premiering in the spring, T-Works also will feature Web-only offerings, including an untitled "Batman" shortform series and an untitled "Wizard of Oz"-related project. Both will be developed by Studio 2.0, the digital production division of Warner Bros. Television Group.

There also will be more than 125 games on the site, with additional ones being developed by Warner Bros. In addition, users will be able to make their own cartoon mash-ups and create widgets for use on such sites as Facebook and MySpace.

The site will be ad-supported, and Judson said the company is talking with a "select group of partners." She said T-Works will be open to all of the different digital advertising models in use, including preroll and postroll.

T-Works will feature a destination for younger users as well.

"Warner Bros.' iconic animated characters represent a very key part of the company's film and television histories — so it's fitting that they serve as the initial entry point into this online universe," Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Barry Meyer said.