Disney buys rights to release 'The Avengers,' 'Iron Man 3'

Fans, some dressed as their favorite characters, attend Comic-Con International 2010 at the San Diego Convention Center.
By Ben Fritz
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LOS ANGELES -- Disney wants to dominate the Marvel universe as soon as possible.

Resolving a long-standing question since Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment last year for $4 billion, the Burbank studio has signed a deal to take over marketing and distribution of "The Avengers" and "Iron Man 3" from Paramount Pictures.

Disney will pay Paramount a minimum guarantee of $115 million for the rights against a percentage of revenue that the Viacom-owned studio would have received for releasing the pictures under an existing distribution deal.

Although Paramount will still receive the 8 percent of "Avengers" revenue that it had been guaranteed, the studio will get 9 percent of revenue on "Iron Man 3" as part of the new arrangement with Disney, a person familiar with the matter said.

Disney plans to release "Avengers" in May 2012 and "Iron Man 3" in May 2013.

Not only will Paramount receive more money without doing any of the marketing and distribution work, but also the $115 million minimum payment provides downside protection in case the films flop.

"For them to coordinate distribution and marketing and us to still get the economic benefit while focusing exclusively on our own tentpoles is a win for both sides," Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore said.

Paramount earned close to $60 million in distribution fees for each of the first two "Iron Man" movies.

For Disney, the deal enables the studio to exploit "The Avengers" and "Iron Man 3" across all its entertainment businesses including movies, television, consumer products and theme parks. Capitalizing on the Marvel properties in such a way was the primary reason Disney cited for its acquisition of the comic company.

"In completing this agreement, Disney will leverage these two highly anticipated films across the multiple global platforms of the Walt Disney Co.," studio Chairman Rich Ross said in a statement.

Paramount will release Marvel's 2011 films "Thor" and "Captain America" as planned, in May and July, respectively, since the studio has already begun marketing efforts for both.

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