'Man,' 'Hulk' covered under under Meryl Lynch agreement

“Iron Man” has received a gold star from the money men.

Marvel has restructured its credit facility with Merrill Lynch so that the biggest bets on its nascent slate, “Iron Man” and a “Hulk” sequel, are covered under the agreement. Both will now be financed through the $525 million facility.

Move alleviates a key obstacle for Marvel as it sets its inaugural slate. After the company regained rights to the pics, exec John Turitzin said Marvel could be forced to seek alternative financing if an agreement couldn’t be worked out.

Agreement moves “Iron Man” in particular further through the pipeline; Robert Downey Jr. was recently attached to play the dark superhero.

But the inclusion of what are costly tentpoles under the original financing agreement raises questions about the fate of some of the lesser-known properties like “Cloak and Dagger” and “Hawkeye” on Marvel’s original 10-pic slate, which before the agreement had access to more of the coin.

Insiders point out that the company’s facility is set up so that it is replenished when revenue from pics begins to come in, making it more fluid than comparable financing instruments.

But the way the agreement is set up — Marvel is reimbursed for development costs only after a pic gets greenlit — makes it more likely the company will concentrate on higher-profile titles that have a better chance of going into production.

And at the very least, the fact that its two biggest properties have secured financing is likely to push other pics further down on the development slate.

“Iron Man” is set to start production in the coming months, with a May 2008 release set.

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