The Journey of Marvel Studios: Bankruptcy Converted in Billions
Our childhood has been an amazing jolly ride.
With no tensions and variety of cartoons to binge-watch. We had it all.
Watching superheroes and wondering to have powers like them, is something which many of us had imagined.
Not only shows, comics at that age, created a different kind of excitement.
Millennial have grown watching and reading about such superheroes. And, still, continue to do so.
Reading comics, and then getting it to, watch them as movies, was like a dream come true.
Watching these graphics on the big screen, with music, and apart from imagining the fights seeing them in movies was like a cherry on top.
Movies like Spider-man, Iron man, Captain America, Avengers and many more Marvel cinematic universe, has created excitement within us.
The first day first shows had been on the priority.
And, the best thing is the ‘after-credits', which comes at the end. Which only a true marvel fan knows and waits for.
As this leaves us with even more excited about the next production.
Die-hard fans of Marvel must have related to this feeling.
Those of you who are not a Marvel fan, or who haven’t heard about Marvel, no need to feel left out.
As, in this blog the journey of Marvel, from being a comic to facing a financial shock to shaking the film fraternity, will be discussed.
ESTABLISHMENT OF MARVEL COMICS
IN earlier days, comics played a vital role, and somehow today also.
They were a wonderful source of entertainment. And, with the era of comics, Marvel became the most favourable comic of almost everyone.
Martin Goodman was a very famous personality and was known as the best publisher of pulp magazine, men's adventure magazine, and comic books.
In need of capitalizing the growth of comic books, starring the superheroes he created Timely Publication.
The first publication of Timely’s comic was Marvel Comics no. 1, which covered superheroes like the Human Torch and the Sub Mariner.
In 1939, the legendary icon Stanley Martin Lieber, commonly known as Stan Lee, joined the Timely publication as an office assistant to Martin Goodman. Stan Lee was the cousin of Martin’s wife.
(Stan Lee worked with the Marvel for more than 60 years. Also, he served domestically in the army during World War II. He has been an iconic personality with the evolution of marvel.)
With the coming of the 1940s, also known as the Golden-Age, Captain America, the most favoured superhero appeared in the Captain America comic no. 1.
With the warlike atmosphere going on in the world, Goodman gained a lot of advantage of this.
As, He preferred to portray his superhero characters fighting against the Nazis and the Japanese, even before the United States entered into World War II.
But, with the ending of World War II, Americans had lost their interest in superheroes.
Which ultimately led Timely Publication to rebrand as the Atlas Comic in the 1950s.With this, Martin dropped the idea of publishing more superhero comics for a while and focused on genres like horror, humour, science-fiction etc.
In the coming of the so-called Silver Age in 1956, the rival company DC Comics was establishing itself by bringing the superheroes back with their hit title, ‘Justice League of America’.
Later, to challenge their rival company, in 1960s Atlas was rebranded as the Marvel Comics. And, thus from that time, the continuation of rivalry between the DC Comics and Marvel Comics is going on.
Stan Lee, being the most influential person of the Marvel History, started building the roots of Marvel.
Various famous comics like Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Dr Strange, X-Men etc. brought new characters to Marvel.
Majority of Marvel characters made motion picture appearances throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
The Spider-Man movie aired on TV in 1977 along with the most popular character, Dr Strange aired on CBS in 1978.
Marvel Studios still didn't exist at that time though.
Therefore, Five years later, on December 1986, New World Pictures acquired Marvel Comics Group and Marvel Productions.
And thus, Marvel Entertainment Group was born.
After that, New World Entertainment, Ltd. released The Incredible Hulk Returns in 1988.
WHAT LED TO THE BANKRUPTCY OF MARVEL
Many of you might be wondering that since Marvel was working so efficiently in the market, what could be the possible reason for its bankruptcy.
With Marvel’s amazing financial success, there came a series of bursting financial bubbles and questionable business deals which led to a sharp collapse of Marvel’s stocks.
Shares which were $35.75 each in 1993 had sunk to $2.375 in just three years.
Ron Perelman, a millionaire businessman of its time.
With its holding company, called, MacAndrews & Forbes he bought many companies.
He purchased Marvel Entertainment Group, by spending $82.5 million.
Within two years, Marvel was on the stock market. It offered 40% of shares to the public.
Perelman was quite a strategist person. He thought of getting franchises and merchandise for Marvel superhero, which can create a boom in the market.
Also, with the issuance of a new book X-force, comics and books started coming with polybags covered on it and containing a series of five trading cards in it.
So, if a collector wanted to access all the five trading cards, they have to buy multiple copies of the same comic.
And thus, the die-hard fans did exactly this.
This strategy was a money-acquiring strategy on a good level. As fans were buying five copies to keep pristine and unopened, and a sixth to tear into and read.
Perelman promised its investors that the franchise would expand their branding and sell merchandise, such as stickers and action figures.
In 1993, Marvel acquired 46 per cent of ToyBiz, intending to profit off of Marvel action figures for the public.
As they say, you can’t trust the market. In one second you’ll be ruling the industry and the other second someone else is ruling over you. And, it’s just like that...
Hence, this what happened with Marvel.
Between, 1993-1996, the rise of revenue coming from both comics and trading cards collapsed.
Marvel was at its vulnerable stage
Due to the increasingly high cost of comics, fans started to stop buying the comics.
Many people believed that it was not only the cost but also the quality of comic books, affected its sales.
Sales had dropped by 70%
By 1995, Marvel Entertainment was in heavy debt, due to which it also, laid off its 275 employees.
Later, in 1996, Ron proposed a plan to save Marvel from bankruptcy.
He planned to merge Marvel with Toybiz. Due to this, he further spent $350million for the remaining shares of the Toybiz,
Marvel's shareholders resisted this and argued that the financial damage to Marvel's share prices would be too great.
Perelman's response was to file for bankruptcy, as it will give him the power to reorganize Marvel without the stockholders' consent.
This struggle raged for almost two years.
Carl Icahn, an American businessman and a known stockholder, opposed Perelman
He stated that,
“Perelman is like a plumber you loan money to get him started in business; then he comes in, wrecks your house, then tells you that he wants the house for nothing”.
The battle, when finally ended in December 1998, had a strange outcome which few could have predicted:
After a lengthy court case, it was decided to merge both the ToyBiz and Marvel Entertainment Group, keeping Perelman and his nemesis Icahn ousted in the process.
With the financial intrigue in the boardroom finally settling down,
Marvel began to turn its attention towards the movie business…
MARVEL INITIATING TO REUNITE THROUGH MOVIES
To be back in the business, Stan Lee was appointed as chairman of Marvel Studios.
Production Company’s started long term plans for movies to be released in the next 10 years, including X-Men, Daredevil, Elektra, and Fantastic Four and many more.
Marvel Studios released a movie called, Blade in 1998.
The motion picture was the first one to be packaged and licensed by Marvel Studios, and it crossed $70million at the box office.
Later came to the X-Men and Spider-Man movies which were huge hits, but according to Marvel, profits were still at a low pace.
THE DUO: DAVID MAISEL AND MERRILL LYNCH
2004, has been considered as the most pivotal year of Marvel Studios.
David Maisel was hired as Chief Operating Officer of Marvel Studios. He had many plans for the future of the franchise.He planned to start Marvel Production.
The idea was amazing, but the main issue was of ‘finances'.
But David managed to crack a deal with the Wall Street firm Merrill Lynch.
Marvel received $525 million loans from Merrill Lynch, but on a condition.
“If Marvel failed to make that money back within seven years, they’d have to give up the rights to 10 Marvel characters, including Ant-Man, The Avengers, Black Panther, and Nick Fury”.
Can you imagine the pressure and difficulties that David Maisel and his team must have felt?
Merrill Lynch, themselves, wanted to pull out of the deal with Marvel, and tried to force them to provide a third of the budget.
Luckily, in 2005, Marvel came over a distribution deal with Paramount Pictures, allowing them with the character rights to Iron Man, Thor, and Black Widow.
With this deal, Marvel announced that Iron Man would be its first independent production.
And thus, the Iron Man started to begin….
KEVIN FEIGE: THE PRESIDENT WHO RAISED THE BAR
2007, was a year of crucial decisions.
As Marvel had taken the risk and promoted junior executive Kevin Feige to be President of Marvel Studios. He started working with Marvel since 2000, as a producer. But with this promotion, he made Marvel into a billionaire.
This was a crucial decision that paved Marvel’s path toward success, starting with the release of Iron Man in 2008.
After nearly 70 years in the making of the history of Marvel Studios, it was the 2008 release of Iron Man that catalyzed its success.
And, from then Marvel began delivering consistently fantastic films.
In June of 2009, Marvel Entertainment was acquired by Disney, for $4 billion along with the distribution rights for The Avengers and Iron Man 3.
Kevin Feige is attributed with the later success of Marvel Studios.
Due to his shrewd and creative decisions, such as adding cameos of Stan Lee in every movie, then adding the “After-Credits’, and the most major decision was casting Robert Downey Jr. and his vision of an inclusive Marvel Cinematic Universe, allowed Marvel Studios to emerge as one of the first film franchises ever—and definitely the most successful—in film history, now worth more than $17 billion.
This further continued with other movies, like Captain America: Civil war, Avengers: Age of Ultron etc.
In 2018, Black Panther along with Avengers: Infinity War, had broken scores of box office records in the world.
Now, there is no shortage of fantastic Marvel movies and TV series to watch, or binge for that matter, and everyone loves them and waits for the other one to release soon.
2018: A GREAT LOSS TO MARVEL AND MARVEL FANS
The ending of 2018, has been very sad for MCU as well as Marvel fans.
As, on 12th November 2018, the legend, the iconic personality, Stan Lee rested in peace at the age of 95.
This was a great loss faced by everyone.
With congestive heart failure, the comic titan had left the world in tears.
He was a person whom everyone loved and admired.
He had such a wonderful personality that whenever his cameo used income in Marvel movies, people used to clap and hoot for him.
He was known as the ‘King of Cameos’.
His last cameo was, “Hey man, make love, not war!” which he said in the Avengers Endgame.
To conclude, Marvel has faced many ups and downs. Many people don’t know what sacrifices, what pivotal decisions they have taken.
But as they say, keep hope and good times will come.
And, thus it did.
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