Marvel, Lions Gate Take More Comics to Film

While superhero movies may be lucrative tent poles for major studios, the indies are getting a piece of the action as well lately. Lions Gate Ent. has been granted licenses to develop, produce and distribute theatrical film releases based on the Marvel properties Iron Fist and Black Widow. Marvel previously licensed The Punisher to Artisan Ent., which was acquired by Lions Gate in December of last year. The first Punisher film is set to hit theaters on April 16 and a sequel has already gone into development.

Marvel and Lions Gate will share equally in certain revenues derived from the properties, with Lions Gate funding development, production and distribution. Marvel will handle all merchandising.

Iron Fist, a 30-year-old Marvel property, centers on Danny Rand, a martial artist raised by monks in the hidden mountain city of K’un L’un. He returns to America as an adult and fights crime using the ancient technique of the Iron Fist, which grants him the power to level a building with a single blow and maintain complete control over his mind, body and spirit.

International intrigue and suspense meet hi-tech gadgetry in Black Widow, which has been thrilling Marvel readers for 40 years. In this property, the Soviet Union’s premier spy, Natasha Romanov, tries to find her place in a world without borders after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“Working with Lions Gate on The Punisher was a great experience and we feel very comfortable expanding this relationship to include two more exciting franchises,” comments Marvel Studios chairman and CEO Avi Arad. “We are already starting on The Punisher II, which will become the fifth Marvel property to become a sequel.”

Lions Gate CEO Jon Feltheimer states, “We believe that the nationwide launch of The Punisher and access to two more cutting-edge Marvel characters will kick off a long-term relationship between Lions Gate and Marvel that is rich with opportunity across all of our core businesses.”

Starring Thomas Jane, John Travolta and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Lions Gate’s The Punisher is the second film based on the Marvel property. Muscle-man Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV, Universal Soldier) played the title role in New World Pictures’ 1989 big screen adaptation, which Artisan picked up for DVD distribution.