Marvel Entertainment (NYSE: MVL) is a movie studio, publisher, and toy licenser based on Marvel Comics of Spider Man and X-Men fame. Their recent major theatrical releases include Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. The current incarnation of the company came about in 1988. The company is headquartered in New York, NY.
Marvel is a long-time publisher of comic books of many different types. It has over 5,000 characters featured over the past 70 years. Several of these, including Spiderman, X-Men, Daredevil, Electra, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and Men in Black, have been turned into movies.
In the mid-2000s, the company reinvented itself as a movie studio and, instead of licensing out the rights to some of its characters (such as all the above) to other movie studios for development (e.g. Sony owns the rights to the Superman movie franchise), began to develop movies on its own dime. 2008's release of Iron Man followed by a remake of The Incredible Hulk were the first two releases made exclusively by Marvel. Future plans include follow ups to Iron Man, Captain America, and the group known as the Avengers.
Tied to the movies are toys licensed through Hasbro.
The success of the company depends on the script writing and conversion of characters from the print media of comic books to film media. Major characters, such as Spiderman, can do really well, as can minor characters, such as the Men in Black. But there can also be so-so results, such as Daredevil and Electra. There is a depth of characters and stories to draw upon, along with the possibility of cross-over stories (where one character appears in stories about another character, i.e. the Hulk teaming up with Iron Man).
The company is also exploring electronic publishing, and has made inroads at bringing its old issues back to the attention of the public through the medium of the Internet.
In 2005, Marvel took out a $525 million non-recourse debt facility from Merrill Lynch secured against the movie development rights to several of their characters in order to finance their up to 10 independently produced movies. Prior to this move, the lions share of profits from their movie blockbusters usually went to the production studio, such as was the case in the Spider-Man Joint Venture with Sony Pictures. Currently, the movie rights to X-Men rest with 20th Century Fox (owned by News Corp), the rights to Spider-Man remain in Sony Joint Venture, but the new Marvel Studios has rights to The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and many of the Avengers characters. Marvel will be allowed to keep all profits from this venture, minus repayment of the principal and interest, and after various costs have been collected by their partners, including film costs, distribution fees, marketing.
Publishing includes comics and graphic novels, most of which are properties owned by Marvel. Recently, Marvel has joined with Stephen King to produce both The Stand and The Gunslinger series.
Marvel licenses its toy creation to Hasbro and a host of other third parties.
A Marvel Theme Park is slated for development in Dubai.