Toys lead to Marvel loss

'X-Men' figures, upcoming toon and 'Spider-Man' pic brighten outlook

HOLLYWOOD — Citing a sales decline at its Toy Biz division, media group Marvel Enterprises posted a broadened, second-quarter loss Tuesday, amid a 21% overall net revenue slump.

Marvel’s deal with 20th Century Fox for the “X-Men” movie has yielded scant revenue for the New York-based publisher, despite its box office success. But officials said “X-Men” action-figure sales should help the company’s bottom line in future quarters.

“This film and other high-profile projects have driven a sharp increase in interest in our characters,” CEO Peter Cuneo said. “We are very excited by the initial sales of our ‘X-Men’ toy line and expect it to be a major success for our toy division this year.”

‘Spider’ gold

A Marvel-produced “X-Men” animated series bows on the WB network this fall, he noted. A Sony Pictures “Spider-Man” movie, based on the Marvel character, is set for release in November 2001, and Cuneo said Marvel expects to reap some related merchandising revenue by the end of the current year.

Marvel’s red ink hit $10.6 million in the latest quarter vs. $9.1 million in the same period last year.

Companywide, net revenue fell to $51 million. The revenue drop at Toy Biz was attributed to lower sales of a line of World Championship Wrestling products.

Separately Tuesday, Marvel announced a new deal with Helsinki, Finland-based Riot Entertainment to create games and other entertainment based on Marvel comic characters for wireless personal-communications devices.

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