Marvel Settles Suit With Spider-Man Creator Stan Lee

I'm glad to see Lee get a piece of this pie given that none of it would exist without his creative vision.

Marvel Settles Suit With Lee (LAT – Bloomberg)

Marvel Enterprises Inc., which holds the rights to 5,000 comic book characters, settled a lawsuit with Spider-Man creator Stan Lee over film royalties and plans to start producing its own movies. The company said it had signed an eight-year agreement with Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc., to distribute as many as 10 films, according to a statement Thursday. Merrill Lynch & Co. set up a $525-million credit line to fund production, a loan backed by limited rights to 10 Marvel characters.

Developing movies is a shift in strategy for the New York-based company, which has licensed its characters to studios to make films such as “Spider-Man” and “Men in Black.” Producing for the big screen will bring more box-office profit, as well as fees from video and cable TV sales, the company said. Marvel may release a “Captain America” film as soon as 2007.

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The firm Thursday also said first-quarter profit fell 11% to $27.7 million after a $10-million cost to settle with Lee. Lee’s attorney declined to comment on how much his client got in total. The creator of superheroes, which include the Incredible Hulk and Daredevil, sued in 2002 for payments related to the first “Spider-Man” movie.

Films based on Lee’s characters have generated more than $2 billion in revenue in the last five years, according to Boxofficemojo.com, of which Marvel got at least $50 million. Until the settlement, Lee, who is also Marvel’s chairman emeritus and gets $1 million in salary, had not received royalties.

I’m not sure what kind of contract Lee had with Marvel. It was not uncommon in the comic book industry until the 1980s for creators to get paid for their work with the company retaining all royalty rights. I’m glad to see Lee get a piece of this pie, though, given that none of it would exist without his creative vision.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.