FEMALE_1: [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] It's December 27th, 1996.
FEMALE_1: After years of bleeding money,
FEMALE_1: Marvel just fired one-third of its employees.
FEMALE_1: Shares that had been worth $35.75 in 1993 are now $2.38.
FEMALE_1: The company is $610 million in debt.
FEMALE_1: They're filing for bankruptcy.
FEMALE_1: For the next seven years, Marvel was stuck.
FEMALE_1: Movies like Blade, X-Men,
FEMALE_1: and Spider-Man were relative successes,
FEMALE_1: but Marvel saw a meager percentage of the profits.
FEMALE_1: But one man had a plan to restore glory for Marvel.
FEMALE_1: A plan that risked
FEMALE_1: their rights to their pivotal characters.
FEMALE_1: In 1989, Ronald Perelman bought Marvel for $82.5 million.
FEMALE_1: The billionaire businessman with
FEMALE_1: a signature grin and a huge cigar had
FEMALE_1: a long repertoire of turning
FEMALE_1: around dying brands for a profit.
FEMALE_1: He immediately raised prices and pumped out more titles.
FEMALE_1: Initially, fans were buying multiple copies of
FEMALE_1: each new comic betting on their eventual high worth.
Charles Soule: And so, that generated a,
Charles Soule: sort of a speculator boom in- in the same way
Charles Soule: that any speculator boom happens, and so,
Charles Soule: people were buying 10 copies of,
Charles Soule: of a comic and,
Charles Soule: and stocking nine of them away
Charles Soule: in the hopes that they would be worth
Charles Soule: millions of dollars someday.
FEMALE_1: Within just two years, profits increased tenfold.
FEMALE_1: But, what Marvel made in cash,
FEMALE_1: the comics lost in quality.
Charles Soule: Comic sellers at all levels
Charles Soule: were printing what were called variants.
Charles Soule: And, and so, you'd have a comic with the same inside,
Charles Soule: the same story in the inside
Charles Soule: but like a different cover or
Charles Soule: a slight- a slight variation
Charles Soule: on the way that it was presented.
FEMALE_1: The pressure for profits was decreasing
FEMALE_1: the quality of the product
FEMALE_1: which was now flooding the market.
FEMALE_1: The rise in the future value
FEMALE_1: was becoming increasingly unlikely.
FEMALE_1: To double down on profits,
FEMALE_1: Marvel decided to produce more memorabilia,
FEMALE_1: but the industry was shrinking and Marvel was in trouble.
Stan Lee: We haven't been too lucky.
FEMALE_1: [NOISE] By 1995,
FEMALE_1: chasing profits caught up to Perelman and marvel.
FEMALE_1: The company reported a loss of
FEMALE_1: $48 million and a death of $581 million.
FEMALE_1: At this point, Perelman knew the future was
FEMALE_1: in film and not in cards or comics.
FEMALE_1: So, he proposed merging
FEMALE_1: Marvel with action figure company,
FEMALE_1: Toy Biz to launch Marvel Studios.
FEMALE_1: However, shareholders blocked the plan arguing
FEMALE_1: financial damage to shares would be too great.
FEMALE_1: Perelman filed for bankruptcy in order to
FEMALE_1: continue his plan without shareholder consent.
FEMALE_1: After a two year court case,
FEMALE_1: Mr. Perelman's ties to the company were severed.
FEMALE_1: Marvel was now owned by two Toy Biz executives,
FEMALE_1: Isaac Perlmutter and Avi Arad.
FEMALE_1: Like Perelman, they had a direct target, movies.
FEMALE_1: They knew this was the future but Marvel
FEMALE_1: fresh out of bankruptcy needed quick cash.
FEMALE_1: So, they auctioned the cinematic rights
FEMALE_1: of their characters to Hollywood.
FEMALE_1: The problem was, Hollywood executives didn't see
FEMALE_1: the value and Marvel was forced into unfavorable deals.
FEMALE_1: [NOISE] [MUSIC] Marvel movies
FEMALE_1: of the late '90s and early 2000's were Blockbuster hits.
FEMALE_1: Blade meets $70 million in the box office,
FEMALE_1: but Marvel reportedly took in just $25,000.
FEMALE_1: Spider-Man made $3 billion
FEMALE_1: off the first two Spider-Man movies,
FEMALE_1: but Marvel only saw $62 million total.
FEMALE_1: They were sitting on
FEMALE_1: a goldmine but couldn't reap the benefits.
FEMALE_1: David Maisel calls himself a
FEMALE_1: cross between Iron Man and Peter Pan.
FEMALE_1: He lives in a two bedroom rental in LA.
FEMALE_1: He doesn't have an assistant lawyer or an agent.
FEMALE_1: But, Maisel is a multimillionaire
FEMALE_1: whose bold idea defined a generation of film. [NOISE]
FEMALE_2: In 2003, Marvel was getting ready to sell
FEMALE_2: Captain America to Warner Brothers,
FEMALE_2: and Thor, to Sony Pictures.
FEMALE_2: This is when Maisel stepped in.
FEMALE_2: Maisel met owners Araud and
FEMALE_2: Perlmutter with an audacious plan.
FEMALE_2: Make the movies yourself.
FEMALE_2: Not only would this give
FEMALE_2: Marvel 100 percent of the profits,
FEMALE_2: but it would also allow characters to
FEMALE_2: cross over stories just like
FEMALE_2: they do in the comics creating the
FEMALE_2: potential for endless sequels.
FEMALE_2: Araud and Perlmutter were eventually
FEMALE_2: convinced but needed the money.
FEMALE_2: It took until 2005 to get a deal.
FEMALE_2: Merrill Lynch contributed $525 million
FEMALE_2: over seven years allowing Marvel to
FEMALE_2: make any superhero movie they wanted.
FEMALE_2: But there was one big condition.
FEMALE_2: The collateral was the movie rights
FEMALE_2: to 10 main characters.
FEMALE_2: Marvel Studios was all in.
FEMALE_2: Their first order of business was
FEMALE_2: assembling previously sold characters.
FEMALE_2: They managed to reacquire
FEMALE_2: the rights to characters like Black Widow,
FEMALE_2: The Hulk and of course Iron Man.
FEMALE_2: From there, Marvel Studios chose
FEMALE_2: self-proclaimed comic book nut
FEMALE_2: Kevin Feige as their president,
FEMALE_2: a man passionate about Marvel.
FEMALE_2: On May second 2008,
FEMALE_2: Iron Man hit the big screen.
FEMALE_2: The future of Marvel was at stake.
FEMALE_2: It was an instant blockbuster hit.
FEMALE_2: In the first weekend,
FEMALE_2: the movie pulled in close to $100 million.
FEMALE_2: In total, the first film made $585 million.
MALE_1: Yeah, I can fly.
FEMALE_2: It was such a massive success that in
FEMALE_2: 2009 at Disney bought Marvel for $4.3 billion.
FEMALE_2: The rest is history.
FEMALE_2: In total, Marvel movies have grossed
FEMALE_2: over $14 billion since Iron Man.
FEMALE_2: That's roughly 13 percent of
FEMALE_2: the total box office since 2008.
FEMALE_2: In July of 2018,
FEMALE_2: Disney's shareholders approved the acquisition of
FEMALE_2: 21st Century's film and television studios.
FEMALE_2: Fox previously owned the rights to X-Men,
FEMALE_2: Fantastic Four, and Deadpool.
FEMALE_2: You can bet future movies will be jam packed with
FEMALE_2: characters spanning the entire Marvel Universe.
FEMALE_2: It's the next chapter in Marvel's Hollywood takeover.
FEMALE_2: Over a decade of blockbusters made possible
FEMALE_2: in part by one man's big gamble.
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