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Marvelous Legals

I just saw the trailer for the new AMAZING SPIDER-MAN due out next year. It was way too familiar for me. Seeing a reboot so soon after just starting the last series seems a bit odd. I felt similarly about BATMAN BEGINS and it has been 8 years since the last sequel (1997’s BATMAN AND ROBIN). In this case it will have only been 5 years since SPIDER-MAN 3 and 10 years since the last franchise even started.

As an audience, we psychologically make a commitment to the characters, which means continuity of actors is far more important than film companies believe. It’s also really annoying to see the same origin story over and over again.Why would a company like Columbia (owned by Sony) do this? I will tell you why…

Sony has an “option” on the rights to the character from Marvel Comics. Sony has made over $2.5 billion on box office alone, excluding home video and television rights worldwide. This is big business. If Sony did not get into production on another SPIDER-MAN film and have it on screen in 2012, all rights to make a movie based on the character would revert back to Marvel.

Marvel Comics started their own film production company called Marvel Films. First they released IRON MAN in 2008 to huge success, and not so great success with PUNISHER WAR ZONE and THE INCREDIBLE HULK, but back to form with THOR, IRON MAN II, and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Next year’s THE AVENGERS looks to be an enormous movie event, meaning gobs and gobs of money.

Both IRON MAN movies were distributed by Paramount, THE INCREDIBLE HULK by Universal, but Marvel produced them. SPIDER-MAN was produced by Sony via Columbia Pictures, so they are taking the financial risks and also reaped the financial rewards for distribution.

Similarly, the X-MEN movies are at 20th Century Fox, and the reason they rushed X-MEN FIRST CLASS was because they tried to slip X-MEN ORIGINS WOLVERINE as a part of their contract with Marvel for X-Men films and it didn’t qualify. So now they could not wait for Bryan Singer’s schedule to open up to direct X-MEN FIRST CLASS and had to rush it into production as fast as possible – just to maintain the rights.

Marvel Films has now been scooped up by Disney. So all the studios that have the rights to Marvel comics characters are rebooting or launching a movie just to keep the rights in their company. So Columbia may not care that the audience could rebel against such a hasty reboot of Spider-man.

In the case of 20th Century Fox’s other Marvel franchise, the FANTASTIC FOUR, it has a history of rights changing hands in the 1980’s and 1990’s. At one point, B-Movie legend Roger Corman owned the rights. He made a $400,000 feature film without the intent to ever release it – just to keep the rights because they sold them later for $1.2 million.

Warner Brothers owns D.C. comics, so Green Lantern, Batman, Super-man, Wonder Woman et al already have a film/television home.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:19:24 am marvel films, comic book movies

Business Buffoonery

Okay, time for a lesson on business side of “film business”. As many of my faithful readers know, I was a broker in the 1990’s which helped because I had to know and understand investment laws of what is and is not legal. I recently saw something so glaringly illegal and stupid it blew my mind.

Some complete idiot was soliciting investments in a video on YouTube. Now that alone is bad enough, nonetheless illegal. The Securities and Exchange Commission frowns on any kind of public request for funds, but a flat out sales pitch? Ridiculous! Kids, you cannot state you are looking for investors in any public forum without an Initial Stock Purchase, which is sanctioned and monitored by the SEC. Don’t be stupid.

It gets better. In this same video, the complete imbecile also GUARANTEES a return on investment. Investing 101 – there are no guarantees and it is illegal to promise money back. This can put you on the hook for their investment without the protection of a corporation or you can go to jail for fraud.

I have not researched this, but I would bet money this moron hasn’t even incorporated his film “company”. Now, we’ve all gone through these phases of making up a name and start using a production company name without the little technicality of actually forming a legal corporation with a Tax ID number. That’s where everyone starts. Once you turn 22-23 years old, that starts to wear thin and it’s time to grow up. Spend the $30 bucks and register a company name with your state, or Delaware as many corporations do (because they are very lean on lawsuits against Corps). Now if you are asking for money for your film company and your company doesn’t legally exist or have the proper paperwork filed with the state treasurer or SEC for specific types of Limited Liability Corporations to sell shares; You are breaking the law. In this day and age of investment fraud being so rigorously investigated and all eyes are against people playing with money – DON’T DO IT. DON’T BE AN IDIOT.

Talk to an attorney. Set up your corporation properly and don’t ever ever ever ever ever promise or guarantee a return on investment. That is fraudulent and you will screw yourself over.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Jul 12, 2011 at 3:26:36 pm

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