Paramount Locks Up Next Five Marvel Films

Paramount has reached a deal to distribute Marvel Studios’ next five films, including Iron Man 2 and 3 (previously unannounced; does this mean there will be a third Iron Man film?), Thor, Captain America and The Avengers.

Iron Man was a major hit for Marvel, and in turn Paramount, this summer. Yet we, and others, couldn’t help but notice that despite Viacom’s bragging about the film’s success, Paramount only got a distribution fee for its trouble and since Marvel is an independent studio, it could take its next films to any other Hollywood player it wanted.

Paramount will no doubt insist that DreamWorks’ departure had nothing to do with its acquisition of the films from its latest hitmaker. But in a purely pragmatic sense, is it possible that losing DreamWorks’ overhead costs cleared the way for a new distribution deal?

It’s also worth noting that Marvel has made a big deal about its independence, giving it the freedom to partner with studios on a per-film basis as opposed to when it previously licensed its characters out to studios like 20th Century Fox and Sony, so this multi-film agreement with Paramount is unexpected and suggests Marvel must have been pleased with how Viacom’s studio handled Iron Man.

Full Press Release: HOLLYWOOD, Calif., Sept. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE: VIANews and VIA.BNews) and Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: MVLNews) today announced an agreement under which Paramount will distribute Marvel’s next five self-produced feature films on a worldwide basis. The deal, an extension of the original agreement made by Brad Grey when he arrived as CEO and Chairman of Paramount Pictures, includes theatrical distribution in foreign territories previously serviced by Marvel through local distribution entities (Japan, Germany, France, Spain and Australia/New Zealand). The distribution pact capitalises on Marvel and Paramount’s successful efforts with “Iron Man,” which has grossed $574 million worldwide for Marvel.

The highly anticipated live action releases include “Iron Man 2” (May 7, 2010)*, “Thor” (July 16, 2010), “The First Avenger: Captain America” (May 6, 2011), and “The Avengers” (July 15, 2011). The distribution agreement also includes “Iron Man 3.”

“Coming off of Iron Man’s incredible success this summer, we could not be more excited about extending our relationship with Marvel,” said Rob Moore, Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures. “Marvel’s iconic brand, its popular characters and its proven ability to create compelling and visually spellbinding films complement Paramount’s great history of filmmaking. We look forward to a long and successful run together.”

“Paramount is an excellent partner and an outstanding global distributor,” said David Maisel, Chairman of Marvel Studios. “Through our experience on Iron Man, Paramount has demonstrated a passion and ability to release Marvel properties theatrically, allowing us to focus on making great movies for the largest audience possible.”

Marvel’s “Iron Man,” starring Robert Downey Jr. and directed by Jon Favreau, was distributed by Paramount earlier this year and was one of the top films of 2008. The DVD, including a version in Blu-ray, will be released on September 30, 2008.

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