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Time Warner's Heroic Lineup

By Brian Gorman
January 10, 2005

A new movie about the Man of Steel finally looks like it's ready to fly.

After already having landed relative unknown Brandon Routh for the role of Superman and marquee director Bryan Singer, the movie's makers have cast Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor and are closing in on getting Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, according to Daily Variety. That's good news for Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX) Warner Bros. Pictures, which reportedly will begin filming the feature in March.

A new Superman project has been in the works for years, after hitting a number of snags. But the timing of production for the new movie may be just right. After its movie Catwoman tried and failed last year to generate some excitement in a lesser-known comic-book character, Time Warner is now rolling out its big guns. This summer, the company will revive its Batman franchise with the movie Batman Begins. If all goes well, the Superman flick will then hit theaters in 2006. The two movies back-to-back could amount to a one-two punch for Time Warner.

The Batman and Superman characters are on the same pop-culture level with Marvel Enterprises' (NYSE: MVL) Spider-Man, so investors can reasonably hope for the kind of success that Marvel and Sony (NYSE: SNE) have achieved with the Spider-Man pictures. Of course, some may wonder about the extent of the profits from Time Warner's new films, given the dynamics of blockbuster filmmaking. Still, the worldwide popularity of Superman and Batman suggests that there should be plenty of profits, even with oversized budgets.

However, even if the new movies are smash hits, the effect on Time Warner's stock may be negligible. After all, the Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter franchises haven't had a major impact on the company's shares. Investors will have to wait and see whether the caped crusaders can deliver knockout profits.    

Both Time Warner and Marvel are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Learn more by subscribing today.

Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.