Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Marvel's Last Battle ?

Modern superheroes have their roots in the mythic and often tragic legends of Greece and Ancient Rome. Now it seems fact might follow fiction.

David Masiel probably isn't a name familiar to superhero fans. He's fought a few epic battles of his own though, most recently ousting Avi Arad to become chairman of Marvel Studios. Did I mention that Arad was his former mentor ?

Masiel's grand strategy looks great on paper. The 45 year old wants Marvel to start making their own movies. At the moment the company simply licenses their titles to the studios, they make some money out of the deal, an estimated $62 million from the first two Spidey movies, but it's small beer compared to the $2.5 billion Sony is reckoned to have earned from all three films of that franchise. Of course there's a risk and we wouldn't be talking about Marvel if it wasn't an unusual one.

The proposed films will be backed by $465 million in a revolving credit facility organised by Merrill Lynch. This in turn is insured by Ambac Assurance. If the movies aren't successful then Marvel won't lose any money, but they've had to use the rights to their characters as collateral with Ambac.

In short, if the new films tank then Marvel will lose some of its characters, so far Captain America, The Avengers, Nick Fury and Thor are at risk.