Look out, Red Skull, the company that owns Marvel comics has raised enough money to fund a movie about your archenemy, Captain America, and nine other superhero adventures.
Marvel Enterprises Inc. is expected to announce today that it has changed its name to Marvel Entertainment Inc. to reflect its expansion into film production with the closing of a $525-million loan deal with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc.
Marvel said it would use the money to make 10 films with budgets of as much as $165 million each, including one about Captain America, whom Avi Arad, chief executive of subsidiary Marvel Studios Inc., called the "Holy Grail" of comic book characters waiting for a big treatment on the big screen.
"We have been very involved in making movies with our partners in the past," Arad said. "Now we get to produce our own movies."
Sony Pictures Entertainment has created a blockbuster franchise with Marvel's Spider-Man, for example, and 20th Century Fox is working on "X3," the third film based on Marvel's X-Men.
Paramount Pictures will serve as Marvel's exclusive marketing and distribution partner for the films. Plans call for two PG-13-rated releases a year starting in summer 2008.
Marvel characters set to join Captain America in the movies are the Avengers, Nick Fury, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Cloak & Dagger, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Power Pack and Shang-Chi.
"These titles have such great public awareness that we are virtually guaranteed [strong] opening weekends," Arad said. "Then we'll make sequels."