As expected, Disney Studios, under new chairman Rich Ross, and its subsidiary Marvel Entertainment (bought last year for $4 billion) had no intention of leaving so many of their prized titles behind at Paramount. But they had to pay dearly to get some of them back.
The three parties struck a deal so that Disney will pay Paramount $115 million for the transfer of distribution rights to Iron Man 3 (May 2013) and The Avengers (May 2012), which are still in the development stage. Unusually, the money, which is categorized as a minimum guarantee against standard percentage of distribution revenue, will be paid on the dates of the films' theatrical release--which is some time off. Paramount will still collect 8 percent of The Avengers revenue and 9 % of Iron Man 3 revenue.
Not part of the deal are two big-budget Marvel tentpoles, Thor (May 6) and Captain America (July 22), which are both well into production (footage was shown at Comic-Con). Paramount will globally distribute them, as well as already released Iron Man and Iron Man 2. The Avengers will be licensed to Epix under Paramount’s existing pay television arrangement, as opposed to Disney's Starz deal.
“In completing this agreement, Disney will now assume worldwide marketing and distribution of The Avengers and Iron Man 3 and leverage these two highly-anticipated films across the multiple global platforms of The Walt Disney Company,” stated Ross. “We appreciate the tremendous momentum that Paramount established with these iconic Marvel characters and look forward to propelling the brand even further in the coming years.”
“Five years ago, when Paramount and Marvel made our initial deal, both our businesses were in very different places,” stated Paramount chairman and CEO Brad Grey. “We are grateful for the partnership we have had with the terrific Marvel team over these years and proud of the work we have done together. Today, this new agreement is the right deal for Paramount, for Marvel and for Disney. We look forward to working together on Thor and Captain America, and we wish Disney and Marvel the utmost success, in what we know will be a very productive and wide-ranging partnership.”