Marvel to Make Two Superhero Pix Per Year

It looks like DC Comics crimefighters such as Batman and Superman will be facing a lot of competition from the folks at Marvel. The company announced today that it will change its name from Marvel Enterprises Inc. to Marvel Entertainment Inc. reflecting its expansion into film production. According to stories in the Los Angeles Times and the Hollywood trades report that the company will be producing ten features based on Captain America and nine other superheroes, using a $525 million loan deal with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc.

"We have been very involved in making movies with our partners in the past," said Avi Arad, CEO of Marvel Studios in the Times piece. "Now we get to produce our own movies. These titles have such great public awareness that we are virtually guaranteed [strong] opening weekends. Then we’ll make sequels!"

Paramount Pictures will be Marvel’s sole marketing and distribution partner. In addition to Captain America, the company has plans for big-screen projects centered on The Avengers, Nick Fury, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Cloak & Dagger, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Power Pack and Shang-Chi. Each film is estimated to coast about $165 million to produce. According to Arad, two PG-13-rates superhero movies will be released every year beginning in the summer of 2008.

In addition to this recently announced deal, Marvel has several other features waiting in the aisles, including X-Men 3, Ghost Rider, Iron Man, Spider-Man 3, Iron Fist and Man-Thing.