"Iron Man" producer Marvel mulling next movie

Fri May 2, 2008 3:31am EDT
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By Steven Zeitchik

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - With "Iron Man" set to explode this weekend, the next question for producer Marvel Entertainment is: What now?

One big variable is who does the distribution. When its financing deal was announced in summer 2005, Marvel said the deal "guarantees distribution for 10 films" through Paramount.

But that guarantee means the Melrose Avenue studio must distribute movies Marvel brings to it. For Marvel, the pact is simply a two-picture deal, with "Iron Man" the first and Marvel obligated only to distribute its next movie through Paramount. (Universal's "The Incredible Hulk" is exempt.)

An additional provision requires that movies based on "Captain America" and "Nick Fury" go through Paramount should they be made, with either film also counting toward the two-picture deal. Sequels of Paramount-distributed movies also will remain with the studio.

As a result, Marvel properties including "The Avengers," "Thor" and "Ant Man" could conceivably end up with other distributors.

Three years ago, the company wanted to stress the Paramount deal to show it had a pipeline; now, with "Iron Man" tracking well, Marvel aims to show Wall Street that the fledgling studio has flexibility.

Marvel also needs to convince investors it can deliver a steady stream of product. Despite a deep reservoir of characters, it plans on releasing only two titles per year.

"There's a lot riding on 'Iron Man' for Marvel because they don't have a lot of movies," director Jon Favreau said.   Continued...

<p>A man holds copies of the Captain America comic book at a store in New York March 7, 2007. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>