Hollywood strikes may overpower Marvel heroes

Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:08am EST
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By Paul Bond

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Labor disputes, whether real or merely predicted, have put a crimp in Marvel Entertainment's goal of releasing two films -- or maybe even one -- next year.

"We're working right now to get the preparations ready to have a chance for one film in 2009," chairman David Maisel said during Tuesday's earnings call with analysts.

"Regarding 2009, we have been obviously affected by the labor situation in Hollywood," referring to the recently ended writers strike and "the uncertainty caused by the upcoming expiration of the actors agreements at the end of June."

Maisel didn't say which character might star in a 2009 movie, if there is to be one, though he said that films featuring Ant-Man, Captain America, Thor and the Avengers all are in development.

Marvel is transforming from a company that simply licenses such characters as Spider-Man and X-Men to film studios to one that will make its own films. First up is "Iron Man" on May 2, and then "The Incredible Hulk" on June 13.

The company said fourth-quarter profit jumped 136% to $27.6 million on revenue that rose 28% to $109.3 million.

While those results topped Wall Street expectations, shares of Marvel dropped 3.6% to $26.75, in part because Marvel did not raise its full-year revenue guidance of $360 million-$400 million.

Analysts also expressed concern about a possible U.S. recession cutting into Marvel's business prospects, especially concerning licensed toys and other products based on its stable of 5,000 characters.   Continued...

<p>A movie goer picks up tickets at a movie theater in Dallas, Texas in a file photo. REUTERS/Jeff Mitchell</p>