From Marvel’s report:
Marvel today updated its feature film slate strategy and plans for the next three years, locking in key release windows for its character franchises. In order to focus its attention on maximizing the success of an Iron Man sequel and the launch of Thor in the summer of 2010 and because Marvel believes that the summer is the optimal time to launch a new property, the Company will not release a self produced film in 2009. Marvel plans to launch its 2010 film slate with the release of the sequel, Iron Man 2, on April 30, 2010, followed by the launch of Thor on June 4, 2010. Additionally, Marvel is planting its feature film stakes for summer 2011 with an Avengers-themed summer – a two-picture project which will debut on May 6, 2011 with The First Avenger: Captain America (working title), followed by The Avengers in July 2011.
Marvel’s Chairman, Morton Handel, commented, “Adjusting for the strong year-ago contribution from the Spider-Man JV, Marvel’s Q1 2008 operating results continued to demonstrate strong global demand for consumer products based on the Company’s portfolio of characters. Marvel’s self-produced feature film slate launched this past weekend with a performance that firmly establishes Iron Man as a major new film franchise, and the Company eagerly awaits the June premiere of The Incredible Hulk, Marvel’s second self-produced film. In addition, Marvel has been investing in other important areas of growth such as the Internet where, to lead the Company’s newly formed Global Digital Media Group, Marvel recently announced the hiring of Ira Rubenstein. Marvel has a strong foundation to build from, and the Company is adding infrastructure to maximize these opportunities.”
Net sales for the Spider-Man JV [joint venture] declined to $29.7 million in Q1 2008, versus $56.9 million in Q1 2007. The year-over-year decline in JV net sales was anticipated, as the high level of net sales in Q1 2007 was triggered by “on shelf dates” related to the May 2007 release of Spider-Man III. This decline was offset in part by increases in domestic and international consumer products licensing, as well as from a higher level of license revenue from Marvel Studios related to the Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four movie properties. Marvel’s Q1 2008 Licensing segment operating income results also reflect settlement payments from two licensees in connection with the termination of their respective interactive license agreements. The settlements totaled $19 million and were recorded as other income. Operating margin in the Licensing segment was 101% in Q1 2008, reflecting the benefit of these settlement payments included in operating income but not included in net sales. The operating margin for the Licensing segment was 83% in Q1 2007.
Marvel’s Publishing Segment net sales declined by $1.0 million or 4% to $26.5 million in Q1 2008 principally due to the timing of major publishing initiatives. Q1 2008 net sales reflected a decline in comic book sales within the direct channel and lower advertising and custom sales, offset in part by continued strong growth in the Mass Market channel. The year-over-year decline in direct channel sales principally reflects strong sales of high profile titles Civil War and The Death of Captain America in the year ago period, versus no comparable specialty titles in Q1 2008. Operating income in the Publishing segment declined by 14% on a year-over-year basis to $9.9 million in Q1 2008 with an operating margin of approximately 37% compared to approximately 42% in the prior-year-period. Based on its planned slate of publishing initiatives, including the release of the Secret Invasion series in late Q2 2008, Marvel expects its Publishing segment to return to traditional margins for the full year 2008.
Marvel’s Film Production segment operating losses were $2.0 million for Q1 2008, compared to $3.0 million in Q1 2007, reflecting overhead costs that were capitalized into Marvel’s self-produced films in Q1 2008. Film Production segment operating costs consist primarily of employee compensation and the expenses associated with Marvel Studios’ office in California.
Among the items in All Other is Corporate overhead, which was $6.5 million in Q1 2008 and $3.6 million in Q1 2007. The difference in year over year Corporate overhead is principally attributed to a one time credit in Q1 2007 of $1.9 million associated with pension accounting. All Other also includes the results of in-licensed toy lines: for Q1 2008, net sales of $1.5 million and operating income of $0.7 million; for Q1 2007, net sales of $4.2 million and an operating loss of $2.6 million.
Marvel listed projects in its pipeline (along with the announced Avengers films):
Ant-Man: Writer/director engaged (Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, respectively)
Punisher: War Zone: December 5th, 2008 release
X-Men Origins: Wolverine: May 1st, 2009 release
A side note - if you look at the schedule (and if schedules hold, but given Marvel's luck with the first weekend in May, there's no reason to think they won't) - Free Comic Book Day will occur near a major comic book movie release for the next three years - at least.
Wolverine and the X-Men cartoon: scheduled for Spring 2009 release
Iron Man: Armored Adventures cartoon: scheduled for Spring 2009 release on Nicktoons
Hulk Gamma Corps cartoon: scheduled for Spring 2009 release
Super Hero Squad cartoon: scheduled for Spring 2009 release
Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow DVD: late 2008 release
"Hulk Vs". DVD: early 2009 release
Thor: Son of Asgard DVD: late 2009 release
Planet Hulk DVD Early 2010 release
Spider-Man: The Musical: still in development
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows video game: fall 2008 release.