This profile of Marvel Studios in the LA Times will probably frame the narrative for a long time:
Feige’s boss and friend, David Maisel, chairman of Marvel Studios, is pleased to be standing on the deck of a ship that can go in deep water. “We’re the first since DreamWorks started 14 years ago that can greenlight its own $100 million movies. It doesn’t happen very often.” True, though Marvel is not a studio in the most traditional sense (it has fewer than three dozen employees, no lot, and it will turn to Paramount Pictures as its primary distribution pipeline.)
While Marvel’s movie making set-up is indeed a startling and bold one for a comic book company, it also ran into some trouble due to the writer’s strike. Their initial funding called for five movies in five years, but a dry 2009 could set back the schedule a bit. There’s also the matter of whether all the good characters are taken:
It’s fair to wonder if Marvel already rented out its best properties to others. That view is supported by the fact that the studio’s second film will be a do-over of sorts — Ang Lee’s dour “Hulk” was released by Universal in 2003 and didn’t energize audiences or critics (its second week U.S. box office plummeted 70%). The studio has also announced Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”) will direct “Ant-Man,” a character that dates to 1962 but has gnat-sized name recognition with the public.
For a company that still nickel and dimes such standard marketing procedures for publishing as going to conventions and sending out review copies, starting a movie studio seems like an odd gamble, but realistically, the payout on a movie is a lot more than selling a few pamphlets. And when you look at the track record of Marvel’s movies — everything except ELEKTRA has been very profitable when DVDs and foreign box office are taken into account — maybe they can put Ant-Man and Deathlok on the map. IRON MAN’s buzz is all good, so maybe the gamble could pay-off.