Game publisher nabs rights to animated series

Vidgame publisher THQ has secured the rights to Marvel’s new “Super Hero Squad” animated series.

Though it doesn’t yet have a network home for the series, which will launch in 2009, Marvel is already busy turning “Super Hero Squad” into a multiplatform property. Along with the skein and vidgame, Hasbro has a related toy line and Marvel is working on a comicbook and a direct-to-DVD film.

THQ has specialized in games for younger auds, as evidenced by its licensing deals with Nickelodeon and Pixar, plus a deal announced Wednesday to make a game based on 2010 DreamWorks Animation pic “Master Mind.” That makes it a natural home for “Super Hero Squad,” which features stylized versions of Marvel characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Wolverine aimed at tots.

However, both companies are hoping the new deal could lead to deeper collaboration. Marvel still doesn’t have videogame partners for 2010 pic “Thor” or 2011’s “Captain America” and “Avengers.”

“We really hope to be able to expand upon this relationship and look at how we can work together more,” said Marvel’s videogame topper Simon Phillips.

Multiyear deal gives the publisher rights to make numerous “Super Hero Squad” games either independently or tied to the property’s incarnations in other media. First game is targeted for fall 2009.

“We’re all about building big entertainment brands in the videogame space, and we think this Marvel deal is more of what we have done very well,” THQ CEO Brian Farrell said.

Signing new licenses is important for THQ, as it will possibly lose its lucrative arrangement with Pixar/Disney after 2011 film “Newt.”

Disney’s internal videogame unit is already making a game based on 2010’s “Toy Story 3″ and is believed to be eager to adapt more Pixar toons.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more