Fox Is About to Make Another Superhero Bet -- This Time, Without Marvel

Fox just announced it's moving forward with another superhero sequel. Here's what fans and investors need to know.

Apr 5, 2014 at 8:44AM

Here's a question for all the superhero fans out there: What do The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and next year's reboot of The Fantastic Four have in common?

Let's start with the obvious answers. They both feature characters in the Marvel Universe, and neither is being produced by Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Marvel Studios. Rather, the folks over at Sony (NYSE:SNE) Pictures are bringing Spidey to life next month, and -- like it or not -- Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:FOX) is making the new The Fantastic Four happen next June.

But I'm looking for a more subtle connection. Specifically, both of these big-name superhero films have links back to Fox's 2012 sleeper hit, Chronicle.

21st Century Fox is reprising a sleeper hit, could compete with those from Disney Marvel and Sony Pictures 

2012's Chronicle was a very successful, low-risk bet for Fox. Credit: 21st Century Fox  

Fox just confirmed it's moving forward with a Chronicle sequel, and has hired 25-year-old newcomer Jack Stanley to write it. Stanley, for his part, doesn't have any produced credits to his name, but apparently does have a couple of solid scripts making the rounds that impressed all the right people.

Fox was so pleased after the $12 million film grossed $126.6 million at the worldwide box office that it gave Chronicle director Josh Trank the job of rebooting The Fantastic Four. In addition, Chronicle co-star Michael B. Jordan has since landed a role in The Fantastic Four as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch. 

And if Chronicle's lead antagonist in actor Dane DeHaan looks familiar in the picture above, it's probably because Sony hired him to play none other than Harry Osborn/The Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

If you're wondering what Chronicle is all about but don't want any spoilers, have a look at the original trailer:


A new team of superheros?

But this begs another important question: With so much rich material available through Fox's current deal with Disney's Marvel -- most notably including The Fantastic Four and a plethora of characters making up the X-Men -- should they really be diverting valuable resources to develop this relatively unknown brand?

I think so. After all, low-overhead ventures like these shouldn't do much to distract Fox from fostering its big-budget franchises. And by hiring budding industry talent to build on Chronicle's existing fan base, Fox can keep Chronicle 2 a low-budget, low-risk venture with high potential rewards. 

What's more, even moderate box office success could once again help Fox identify new talent to promote to its more mainstream superhero films. 

And who knows? If they do it right and Chronicles 2 really takes off, Fox could even be looking at a brand new franchise with almost infinite options for expansion. Of course, that's an absolute best case scenario. But in the end, if there's one thing superheroes tend to consistently demonstrate, it's that anything is possible.

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What do you think? Will Chronicle 2 be able to match the success of the original? We know you have an opinion because you're more than a fan. You follow these businesses with a discerning eye. For example, you probably knew that Disney struck gold when when it purchased Marvel in 2009. In fact, that single business insight could have tripled your money.

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Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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