According to The Hollywood Reporter, Marvel Entertainment (NYSE: MVL ) has signed Oscar-nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson to a nine-picture deal.
Not even McDonald's supersizes this much. Wow.
It's a great move for both parties. For Jackson, because it puts him in position to develop an iconic action role -- Nick Fury, director of Marvel's fictional S.H.I.E.L.D. covert agency -- and earn a tidy sum. For Marvel, because having Jackson creates the sort of natural tie-in that helps its intertwined comic book series sell as well as it does.
You might remember that Jackson's rendition of Fury was featured after the close of the credits for Iron Man. Future appearances are expected for Iron Man 2 and Thor next year, and Captain America in 2011, The Hollywood Reporter reports.
Calling the Jackson deal a competitive advantage would be going too far. But Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) has thus far refused to do anything in the way of a cinematic crossover with its DC Comics characters.
More often, you'll find movie executives attempting cinematic spinoffs. Take The Spirit. This gritty story based on Will Eisner's pulpish, 1940s comic book crime fighter was made possible by 300, which was made possible by Sin City. All three films offer a similar look and bear the fingerprints of long-time comic book writer and artist Frank Miller.
But the process is often haphazard. Miller made all three films with different studios, for example. Dimension Films made Sin City, Warner Bros. produced 300, and Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE: LGF ) made The Spirit.
Marvel has also been guilty of failing to capitalize -- or, rather, Sony (NYSE: SNE ) is guilty, on behalf of Marvel. The three Spider-Man films have little connective tissue between them and (for obvious reasons) there's no attempt at cross-promotion with the X-Men or Fantastic Four films. The Hulk, too, is absent from Spidey's world.
That's changing, however. Marvel's first legitimate spinoff is scheduled for May with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, produced by News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS ) 20th Century Fox. Thanks to the Jackson deal, crossovers will soon follow.
Supersize my movie, Marvel.
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