§ CNN looks at Marvel’s balance sheet, and Spider-Man has not been the cash cow you might expect.
Spider-Man, as any comic book fan knows, isn’t the most powerful superhero. He can’t push planets around like DC Comics’ Superman (owned by Time Warner (Charts, Fortune 500), parent of Fortune and CNNMoney.com). 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 (Charts) 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 (Charts, Fortune 500) Fox, grossed a combined $2 billion. But Marvel’s total share was $26 million.
Well, it may not be dignified, but when Master P’s first movie as producer and star arrives on DVD August 7, it’s at least unlikely that it will contain a lot of profanity. THE ADVENTURES OF BLACK SUPAMAN stars P as the hero of the hood in New Orleans of 2069. The film co-stars Tony Cox, Chris Kennedy and Michael Blackson. No plot details are revealed on the movie’s website, and no word yet on whether DC Comics and Warner Bros. will come down hard on P for infringing on their copyrights, though the “parody defense” might be the strategy in place.
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