Few stories have been as entertaining to cover from a financial skullduggery aspect as the saga of Platinum Studios, a long running con game of a company that cheated a bunch of creators out of their creations while coasting on the success of the first Men in Black film, which it had published in comics form. Founded in 1997, it developed a ton of comics for years without publishing anything while hoping for salvation from the Cowboys and Aliens. I wrote a long history of the company’s bizarre penny stock antics here but the short version is that this business plan never works:
As we reported last night, the story of Platinum Studios, the bizarre IP company founded by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg on his peripheral involvement in having published the MEN IN BLACK comic book, has gotten seriously bizarre, with shareholders and acting president Chris Beall banding together to attempt to oust Rosenberg from the company after a series of what they claim are flagrantly fraudulent money shifting and credit card embezzlement—all from the coffers of the publicly traded company. While we don’t know the whole story, we can piece together some of it.
What is Platinum up to now that COWBOYS & ALIENS finally came out? Well, according to this call with shareholders, lots of COWBOYS & ALIENS merchandising and licensing…meaning it has now taken the place of MEN IN BLACK in the SCott Rosenberg bio. But new stuff is coming! And in a cost-cutting measure they have hired a company to rep them — but instead of paying cash they pay stock. Elsewhere, it’s a LOT of cost-cutting — not a bad idea given the huge losses they have been reporting.
One of the great mysteries of comics which we enjoy exploring here at Stately Beat Manor is Platinum Studios. This long running “publisher” has been the recipient of glowing profiles over the years, its business model hailed as “genius”, despite the fact Platinum never actually published anything for nearly a decade of its existence. Getting the he Cowboys and Aliens movie — based on a Platinum property — produced was the holy grail for owner Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, (above, far left) and now that it’s finally come out, to middling box office, he’ll probably spend the next decade spinning out its success, just as he did with MEN IN BLACK in the 90s. Before Platinum, you seem Rosenberg was the head of Malibu Comics and before that Sunrise Distributors, both businesses which had “interesting” histories. HOwrver, getting a producer credit on the MEN IN BLACK film after finding an obscure comic to sell to Hollywood, made Rosenberg a “MAde” man in Hollywood terms. In addition, there has been much outcry over the years over creators who signed away all the rights to their work to Platinum, only to see it all go into a dark hole of development.
Yet, over the last few years, despite many pactings, partnerings and acquisitions, Platinum’s finances have not been not so great — you can see them in their public filings as a penny stock — until COWBOYS & ALIENS got made.
At any rate, Platinum seems to have mastered the “comics to movies” model while hardly producing any comics, such an efficient, waste-free model that we’re surprised more people haven’t adopted it. With the actual existence of the C&A movie, the publishing arm of Platinum seems to have come to a close as well. In June of this year, VP of Development Dan Forcey left the company, prompting one ex-Platinum creator to tweet that the company was dead.