Will going from Paramount to Disney help or hurt Marvel Studios’ upcoming films?

HollywoodNews.com: It is a clear case of quitting while you’re ahead. Paramount pulled off another $65 million+ opening weekend for another Marvel property, this time with the somewhat more questionable Captain America. Despite opening in the middle of summer and without the IMAX advantage, Captain America still opened with almost identical numbers to Thor’s debut last May ($100,000 more as of this writing). And that’s all she wrote for the three-year long distribution relationship between Marvel Studios and Paramount.

Thanks to a deal whereby Paramount basically sold the distribution rights to any Marvel characters they had dibs on (The Avengers, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, etc) to Disney for $115 million late last year, the fate of the ongoing Marvel movie mythology rests with The Mouse House. As you recall, Disney bought Marvel Studios for $4 billion just under two years ago, but many of the most popular Marvel properties (X-Men, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, etc) belonged to other studios. Disney grabbing back Paramount’s key properties was a major step in bringing the Marvel universe under one studio roof (and likely the last step for awhile, as I imagine that Fox and Sony will keep rebooting or remaking their respective properties until doomsday). But for now the question is simply: Will the Marvel Studios film universe suffer without the seemingly unbeatable Paramount marketing team?

Paramount’s marketing, when it comes to major tentpole pictures, has been quite simply the best out there for at least the last four years. Every new property they have tried to launch has been met with general success in relation to expectations and cost. Sure The Last Airbender was terrible, but Paramount still opened the picture to a nearly-$70 million five-day gross and carried to to $300 million worldwide (had the film been better received, we’d likely be seeing a sequel).

Sure GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra wasn’t even screened for critics and was relatively trashed when critics did see it, but the film still opened with $55 million in early August and ended up with $300 million worldwide (that the film cost $175 million due to production hassles is the reason we’re getting a revamped and cheaper sequel). Yes we all whined when Shrek: The Final Chapter opened to ‘just’ $70 million in May 2010. But the film eventually grossed $752 million worldwide off a $165 million production budget. And those are the ‘questionable’ successes.

Photo by Paramount Pictures

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One Comment

  • July 31, 2011 | Permalink |

    Personally I think you’re overestimating Paramount’s hand in the success of all of the films you mentioned. The Last Airbender, G.I. Joe, Shrek, and of course the Marvel films all had large fan bases attached to them, which drove up ticket sales. Original (not based on other medium) Paramount films have opened in the high $20mil to mid $30mil range even with big names attached like Speilberg/Abrhams Super 8, Johnny Depp in Rango, and, most recently, Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in Cowboys and Aliens making (estimated) the same amount as The Smurfs. Having said that Touchstone (Which Disney will likely be distributing it under) has a worse track record then that with the original movies premiering in the upper teens to mid 20’s.

    On the flip side, Disney has had major success in continuing franchise. Continuations of Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story, and the Alice in Wonderland live action remake all made $90mil-$145mil in there opening weekend and are all currently on the Top ten highest grossing films of all times.

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