|Date(s):||1976 to 1982|
|Location(s):||Los Angeles, California|
|Tag(s):||Film Industry, Superman, Stock Market|
|Course:||“Creating the Comic Book City,” Rollins College|
Despite some talk of another recession in 1979, box-office moguls were not worried at all. As more and more people packed into the theaters, the film industry expected a prosperous year. Since the early 1970’s, movie attendance rose by 40% and the box-office in 1978 took in 12% more than in 1977 with a whopping, record-breaking $2.7 billion. One 1977 movie also broke records for major American film studio Twentieth Century-Fox. The release of Star Wars brought in almost $235 million for the media conglomerate. The success of the film increased the company’s annual stocks to $7.25 in 1978 from $6.52 in 1977. One big question in the stock market and film industry, would Warner Communications’ Superman, DC Comics superhero, be able to contest with the success of Star Wars? No one could be sure, but regardless, the “man of steel” looked to bring a positive outcome for Warner.
Stock analysts believe that Superman would also set records for Warner’s share of profits, from $1.33 to $1.50 a share for the first quarter. Even if the film fell short of what Star Wars did for Fox, there was still a lot of speculation in Warner’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange.2 Superman did bring success to Warner by returning about $75 million in domestic rentals and helped the company reach an industry half-year high of $79.2 million in foreign billings. The general economy outside the film industry though was not doing as well. Inflation skyrocketed from the beginning of 1979 to 1982 due to a shock in oil prices. Real GNP from 1979 to 1982 was almost stagnant proving the weakness of the economy at the time. 
Warner Communications did have its share of enemies though. In 1976, a feminist group called the Women Against Violence Against Women, or WAVAW, began its efforts by targeting Warner Communications. They were unhappy with the violence against women depicted on Warner’s album covers. At a 1976 NOW convention in California, WAVAW called for a boycott focused on Warner. The boycott concluded in 1979 with Warner agreeing to stop using images that portrayed violence against women on their album covers.
The comic book market was shrinking however in the 1970’s. Although, major companies such as DC Comics still found profit in licensing deals with toy companies and Saturday-morning cartoons. Licensing profit was much growing faster than that of the comic book, but it was understood that the quality of the comic book was still at the core. Consequently, companies such as Warner introduced new executive leadership to upgrade their comic book divisions.  In fact, Warner Bros. is the parent company of DC Comics today.
The Superman of the 21st century continues the success of the hero with the release of “Man of Steel” in 2013, distributed still by Warner Bros., a subsidiary of Time Warner, formerly Warner Communications. The film grossed $657 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing film of the entire Superman franchise, proving that the caped hero continues to bring people to the box office.
 John C. von Koschembahr, "Movie Stocks: Bring on the Gas Lines and the Recession." Financial World 148, no. 14 (Jul 15, 1979), 45.
 Robert Metz, “Market Place: How High Will ‘Superman’ Fly?,” New York Times, January 4, 1979, sec. Business & Finance.
 von Koschembahr, “Movie Stocks,” 46.
 Ibid., 47.
 Glenn H. Miller, Jr., "Inflation and Recession, 1979-82: Supply Shocks and Economic Policy." Economic Review, 1983., 18.
 Monroe Friedman "Boycott Initiative of Other Minority Groups." In Consumer Boycotts Effecting Change through the Marketplace and the Media, (New York: Routledge, 1999), 154-155.
 Bradford W. Wright, Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), 259.