Spidey Swings in India

Marvel Entertainment (NYSE: MVL  ) has taken Hollywood. Now, it wants Bollywood.

What's interesting is its strategy. Marvel doesn't intend to merely import signature characters such as Spider-Man. Rather, the comic book king is in talks to acquire established heroes such as Bollywood box office star Krrish, reports Indiantelevision.com.

"The idea is to build Bollywood franchises and stories on Indian superheroes," Marvel International president Simon Philips told Indiantelevision.com.

If true, it would mark a departure from earlier efforts. Take Japan. There, Marvel is teaming with legendary anime studio Madhouse to prepare its signature characters for several new animated series due to be released in 2010. In India, Marvel hopes to seed new ground.

Can the strategy work? Certainly investors shouldn't expect instant hits. But Marvel has seen recent cinematic success on the subcontinent:

Film

Gross International Box Office*

India*

Ghost Rider

$112.9

$3.9

Spider-Man 3

$554.3

$16.4

Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer

$157.1

$2.1

Iron Man

$263.5

$1.9

The Incredible Hulk

$127.7

$2.6

Source: Box Office Mojo. * Numbers in millions.

Pretty good numbers, especially since superhero films don't always take on the subcontinent. Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) Hancock grossed $5.5 million in India but Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) The Dark Knight, the top-grossing superhero flick of all time, grossed just $3.6 million on the subcontinent, according to Box Office Mojo. Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) The Incredibles, the fifth-ranked hero saga, earned just $750,000 in India.

In other words, Bollywood won't be bullied, which makes Marvel's strategy -- what little we know of it, at least -- that much smarter.

More Marvel-ous Foolishness:

Disney and Marvel are Stock Advisor selections. Try this market-beating Foolish service free for 30 days. There's no obligation to subscribe.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Marvel at the time of publication. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy thinks a full plate of tandoori chicken would go down really well about now.


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