Marvel’s Maisel Discusses Film Franchises
David Maisel, Executive Vice President, Office of the Chief Executive, and Chairman of Marvel Studios spoke to investors last weekend and IESB has a complete transcript up for those interested.
Highlights of the talk, though, indicate that Marvel is working hard to maximize their film franchises without blowing the budget on any single film and prefer controlling the films since that gives them the latitude to maximize scheduling.
Investors questioned if Spider-Man 4, were it to come out in 2010, would complicate Iron Man 2 and Thor? Maisel said, “It would be a nice situation to have, I think there’s room enough for all three and we’d work that out. But it would absolutely be a nice situation to have for Marvel’s fiscal results that year.” On the other hand, Sony has announced Spidey 4 as coming in 2011.
“This is one of the reasons we did our own studio,” Maisel explained to the room full of non-fans, “because not only, well, three reasons. One, we’ve got, now, the economic upside to the movies, we have 100% the economic upside from Iron Man and from the merchandise of Iron Man, whereas before we only got the small license fee and we had to share merchandising. The second reason is, we can control our destiny, we can announce, ‘hey, Iron Man 2 is this date and we’re making this movie and we’re making Thor and we’re making Avengers and Captain America.’ Sony controls that with Spider-Man and so I can’t comment on when the movies come out beyond what they’ve said. I guess all I can say is that Spider-man films have done so well, that it would be, I would assume, unlikely that we wouldn’t see a steady stream more of Spider-Man films going forward. The exact timing and year is up for them to announce.”
When asked about their direct-to-video and animated television efforts, Maisel’s assessment was blunt. “It’s a good question, direct-to-videos, we have a nice deal with Lionsgate actually and it’s been a great working relationship and we started that years ago. But, frankly, the money we make on each of them is relatively immaterial compared to how we do on the feature films and the rest of our business. So those are, for us, nice for a little bit of profit but they are primarily for promotional reasons. But we do try to maximize the profit; we’ve had some good success with those. The animated TV, these days, is really for promotion and advertising for your consumer products, especially with the duopoly in the States of Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, it’s difficult to get money off the episodes themselves but we find them very valuable as ways to keep the brand in the consciousness, especially the younger generation. For almost every one of our properties we’ll have an animated half hour of Iron Man, Wolverine, starting on Nicktoons in the spring. They are actually very important for international as well. Simon Phillips, our president at global consumer products has a history in that area and we are actually pretty excited about using those animated half-hours to help us even improve our international consumer products business more.”
He also addressed managing their brands including the theme-park in Dubai, noting, “We very much are managing these brands to maximize the value of these brands. We like to say we’re not really in the movie business, we are in the Iron Man business, or we are in the Hulk business or we are in the Avengers business, the Spider-man business, and by launching a studio, it gave us, like I said, not only the ability to get more profits but to control our destiny and to sit with partners like our partners in Dubai and South Korea and say this is what we are doing. And so we control our destiny. And so they are now willing to invest the hundreds of millions into these theme parks, all Marvel dedicated parks, not where we are part of a park.”