I still think it bears repeating that if the roles between film and comics were to be reversed, it would only be so if webcomics became the norm at DC, Marvel and their ilk. But that would involve having to find ways of making a profit whilst having comics for free. The consequences would be huge and this would even affect prose publishers in general.
What if every book publisher started offering books for free but when figuring out ways of making them profitable, they have film studios to advertise those? One might say that films exist to advertise Harry Potter books and pretty much did the job right. Same with any adaptation of comic strips that the point still holds.
Assuming if DC and Marvel ditched print comics for good and went straight into webcomics, chances are they’ll still find ways of making money. Whilst DC and Marvel have the luxury of having an in-house animation studio of sorts, for smaller publishers they may have to use the production commitee model instead.
Anime already did this since the 1990s, especially with several productions working on and advertising it (or so I think) that it might become the default way of licencing intellectual property. Rather than comics acting as research and development, film studios end up as glorified advertising agencies.
It’s as if a movie studio got paid by the publisher to advertise its books in the form of films and programmes. Studios buying the rights to adapt those media isn’t anything new. The biggest change’s that it would like what Japanese anime have been doing.
You have a committee of studios and publishers working together to produce things to advertise their books and comics with. If DC and Marvel were to switch to webcomics for good, this would have immense ramifications for the entire publishing industry to end up having their books for free online.
Only to pay movie studios to advertise those products that it might also become the most cynical form of advertising and be infomercials taken to a logical conclusion.