David Maisel of Marvel Studios outlined the four elements of Marvel Entertainment's movie and TV program during a conference call with industry analysts.  Among the revelations about the first two Marvel-produced films was a shift in date for the release of The Incredible Hulk from June 27th, 2008 to June 13th, and a firm start date for principal photography on Iron Man, which begins filming on March 12th.  The Incredible Hulk will be filmed in Toronto starting in early summer.  While Maisel didn't want to reveal the details of the budgets of first two all-Marvel projects, he did tell analysts that both films will fall in the $100 million to $160 million range.


Maisel was very happy with the box office performance of Sony's Ghost Rider, which he termed 'very encouraging,' especially because it was based on one of Marvel's 'lesser known' characters and it debuted during the winter.  In response to a question about what the success of Ghost Rider would mean, Marvel's Peter Cuneo declared that it would 'have no financial impact' on the company.  Cuneo also downplayed the toy merchandising potential of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which he said would be less than that of the first FF film because it is being released in the midst of no fewer than five fantasy films with considerable merchandising potential, however he did mention that licensing for Spider-Man 3 was well ahead of licensing for the previous Spidey epic at this stage in its production.


The only two licensed Marvel feature films included on Marvel's financial statement were Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.  Maisel indicated that he thought that studios such as Sony would like to continue to produce sequels to successful Marvel franchises and that writers had been assigned to some projects, but he indicated that Marvel would henceforth only include film to which directors had been assigned and were therefore much closer to actually going into production.


Maisel had little to say about the third prong of Marvel's visual entertainment strategy, TV production, except to note that the 26-episode Fantastic Four animated series produced by MoonScoop in France, would be back on the Cartoon Network in June in time for the release of the Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer feature film.


There were no new announcements in Marvel's fourth category, direct-to-DVD animated features produced with Lions Gate, though Maisel was happy with the initial performance of the Invincible Iron Man DVD, which debuted at #3 on the VideoScan chart.  The Doctor Strange direct-to-DVD feature is due out in August.  No other direct-to-DVD projects were included in the report.


In answer to a question about the role of Avi Arad, who left his position as Chairman and CEO of Marvel Studios to become an independent producer last June (see 'Avi Arad Leaving Marvel'), Maisel said that there was 'no change in his level of involvement as producer on both Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk,' which is considerable.  However he also noted that Marvel had lifted Arad's non-compete agreement, which means that Arad could end up producing comic book-based movies based on properties from publishers other than Marvel.