The NY Times business section profiles the Valiant relaunch and explains that it’s trying to become a mini-Marvel as far as movies go. It also follows the money and names the investors—led by former Marvel exec Peter Cuneo— who have powered the company to hire a killer elite of editorial and marketing from top editor Warren Simons to marketing’s Atom! Freeman:
Acclaim Entertainment, a video game publisher, acquired Valiant in 1994 for $65 million (about $100.8 million in today’s dollars) and later closed the comics division, focusing instead on Valiant games. Acclaim filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005, and, two years later, a group of investors — led by two comics enthusiasts who were still in college, Jason Kothari and Mr. Shamdasani — snapped up the Valiant library for a few hundred thousand dollars.
Mr. Kothari and Mr. Shamdasani spent the next few years ensnared in legal battles tied to Valiant trademarks, but emerged unencumbered. They connected last summer with Mr. Cuneo, who invested in the company and became its chairman. Gavin Cuneo, his son, became chief financial officer.
Other early investors include Jay Pollack and Scott Mednick, both of whom were early backers of Legendary Entertainment, a force behind the “Dark Knight” series and next summer’s “Man of Steel” Superman remake. Valiant’s board includes Tom Sherak, the departing president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Sidney Ganis, a past academy president and Columbia Pictures executive. Mr. Sherak and Mr. Ganis worked for Marvel’s movie unit in the last decade.
Investors have contributed modest amounts (millions but not tens of millions), which is enough to “comfortably” serve Valiant’s current needs, Peter Cuneo said. The hunt for movie financing — $300 million to $400 million — will soon start, an endeavor that he predicted would be eased by Marvel’s track record. “Investors like to be able to compare concepts to other concepts,” he said. “With Valiant, we very much have a blueprint to follow, which is Marvel.”
If you’re going to go the page-to-screen route, it helps to have solid financing like this and so far the actual comics have been strong.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.