New head of Marvel comics discusses if there are still properties left to exploit for Hollywood


Spider-Man, as any comic book fan knows, isn't the most powerful superhero. He can't push planets around like DC Comics' Superman. He's just an insecure teenager who, after his encounter with a radioactive spider, can climb walls and swing around on a web. But Marvel's wisecracking web-slinger is Hollywood's most bankable superhero. Sony's "Spider-Man" and "Spider-Man 2" have made $3 billion from ticket sales, DVDs, and TV revenue globally. And "Spider-Man 3" had a record $151.1 million U.S. opening weekend.

You'd think David Maisel, recently named chairman of Marvel Studios, the publisher's Hollywood division, would be eager to talk about Spider-Man's success, but he's not. Why? Marvel won't disclose its profits from the first two Spider-Man films, but according to a Lehman Brothers analysis, Marvel's combined take was only $62 million.

Spider-Man isn't the only Marvel star to make lots of money for somebody else. Fox's "Fantastic Four," released in 2005, has grossed $624 million. Marvel only made $13 million. (A sequel, "Rise of the Silver Surfer," opens on June 15.) The three X-Men movies, also produced by News Corp’s Fox, grossed a combined $2 billion. But Marvel's total share was $26 million.

Since launching its characters in the early 1960s, Marvel has been through lots of corporate ups and downs, including bankruptcy in 1996. Different owners and executives made a series of ill-timed or just plain bad deals to bring the company's A-list superheroes to the screen. Now it's up to Maisel, 44, a Harvard MBA who started his career at Boston Consulting Group, to make Marvel's second string as lucrative for his company as the first team has been for Sony and Fox.

(Source: Fortune Magazine)

Comics, Film Business, Hollywood

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