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Warner Bros. tones down ‘Batman’ TV toon

Aurora tragedy prompts changes to cable series

Heightened sensitivity over violent imagery at Warner Bros. in the wake of the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colo., is extending to another iteration of the “Batman” franchise.

Multiple sources divulged that Warner Bros. Animation ordered a review earlier this week of “Beware the Batman,” an animated series the unit is producing for Cartoon Network.

A Warner Bros. spokesman declined comment.

Producers of the series were asked by WB Animation executive VP Sam Register to scrutinize depictions of weapons on the program, which isn’t expected to debut on the cable network until next year.

An unspecified number of alterations were made to some designs and situations on the series to minimize the amount of weapon imagery deemed too realistic.

The review process, which isn’t expected to be cheap, will be as detailed as changing the shape of gun barrels from round to square for the purpose of rendering the weapons in a more stylized manner reminiscent of sci-fi fare.

Like WB Animation and its production partner on “Beware,” DC Entertainment, Cartoon is also owned by Time Warner. The network first announced the series as part of its slate at its March upfront presentation.

Sources added that Register, who is listed as executive producer of the series, did not make the changes at the behest of higher ranking execs at the conglom, but did so proactively on his own.

Warner Bros. has been treading carefully in the days since “The Dark Night Rises” provided unfortunate backdrop to the shooting in Aurora, which claimed 12 lives and injured dozens of others.

WB postponed the release of another of its films, “Gangster Squad,” for reshoots in light of a scene depicting a shooting at a movie theater.

Utilizing cutting-edge CGI, “Beware” was intended to offer Batman fans an animated version of the franchise in keeping with the more serious tone of “Dark Knight.” The series will bypass some of the more well-known villains depicted in the films for more obscure arch enemies derived from the comics like Anarky, Professor Pig and Mister Toad.

Because the series was produced for Cartoon Network — whose target would be boys and teens — the content guidelines would already be considerably less graphic than the live-action films.

Further cashing in on the Batman brand, WB will also release an animated feature in the fall adapted from the Frank Miller graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns.” Those films tend to be more adult in tone and traditionally carry a PG-13 rating.

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