Today, Marvel Enterprises announced it will self-finance up to 10 films based on its massive catalog of classic comic books. Using the film rights as collateral, the company has entered into a 7-year, $525 million loan agreement with Merrill Lynch, who will bankroll the films, which will be produced by Marvel's internal film studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures. Each film is expected to have a budget of up to $165 million and to be rated PG-13.
What does Marvel's announcement have to do with games? For the last several years, every major film based on a Marvel comic book has had a game tie-in. So today's deal means that there will almost certainly be games based on the comics singled out as future movie projects. Those include popular classics such as star-spangled vigilante Captain America, superhero team The Avengers, occult master Dr. Strange, bow-and-arrow-toting Hawkeye, and government agent Nick Fury. More obscure comics were also slated for adaptation, including African-American vigilante Black Panther, insect-human hero Ant-Man, teen titans Cloak & Dagger, kung-fu master Shang-Chi, and the superhero siblings of Power Pack. Marvel has not officially announced which project will be first, though it is rumored to be Captain America.
Today's deal also raises the question of which companies will develop games based on any upcoming Marvel films. Activision has developed and published successful games based on the Spider-Man, X-Men, and Fantastic Four films and comics. VU Games recently published its second game based on The Incredible Hulk (the first was a film tie-in), and THQ published the game version of The Punisher earlier this year, which featured the voice of the 2004 film version's star, Thomas Jane.
As far as upcoming comic-book-inspired, film-inspired games go, Activision is developing a game tie-in for the forthcoming big-screen version of Iron Man and director Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3, both due in 2007. Majesco is working on a game based on next year's would-be summer blockbuster Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage, for the PSP, Xbox, and PlayStation 2.
Marvel officials contacted by GameSpot declined to comment on any potential deals with publishers or what games were in development. "We have made no game-related announcements on those properties," said a rep.
Also as a result of today's deal, the company is changing its name from Marvel Enterprises Inc. to Marvel Entertainment Inc.