Paramount, Marvel extend pact

Deal includes 'Thor,' 'Iron Man' franchise

“Iron Man” helped Marvel Studios dominate at the B.O. this summer — and now the superhero has also helped the comicbook giant lock up a more lucrative film deal at Paramount Pictures.

Marvel Studios has renegotiated its distribution pact with Par, under which it will now pay out 8% of its film grosses to the studio for its next five films, rather than the 10% it previously ponied up for “Iron Man.”

The 8% is also what DreamWorks Animation pays Par to release its toon titles and what Lucasfilm forks over for the “Indiana Jones” franchise.

Deal comes on the heels of DreamWorks’ exit from the studio, which leaves a hole of six films per year in Paramount’s release schedule. Influx of Marvel product will help fill that gap.

Those upcoming films include “Thor,” which Kenneth Branagh has been confirmed to direct. It centers on the hammer-wielding Norse god and is skedded for release on July 16, 2010.

Slate also includes “Iron Man 2,” which bows May 7, 2010, and brings back Robert Downey Jr. as billionaire Tony Stark, as well as co-stars Terrence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow. A third “Iron Man” is also planned.

Second installment, to again be helmed by Jon Favreau, had previously targeted April 30, 2010. New date now puts it up against Disney and Walden Media’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

Marvel has also skedded “The First Avenger: Captain America” (May 6, 2011) and “The Avengers” (July 15, 2011).

Ability to negotiate more favorable financial terms for itself comes after Marvel successfully launched its film division this year with the release of “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk,” through Universal; the pics went on to earn a combined $824 million worldwide this summer.

Marvel is expected to earn up to $140 million from its films this year, the company said in a corporate filing.

A continution of Marvel’s deal with Par had always been expected.

Marvel set up “Iron Man” at Par in 2005 after raising a $525 million credit facility from Merrill Lynch. Under the agreement at the time, Marvel could deliver up to 10 movies to Par over the next eight years.

Terms, however, wound up changing. Outside the “Iron Man” franchise, Marvel did have the “flexibility” to set up its future films at other studios, said David Maisel, chairman of Marvel Studios.

The way Par helped launch the “Iron Man” franchise, however, helped make the studio Marvel’s No. 1 choice, he said.

“Through our experience on ‘Iron Man,’ Paramount has demonstrated a passion and ability to release Marvel properties theatrically,” Maisel said.

In addition to handling marketing, Par will oversee domestic distribution, as well as foreign territories including Japan, Germany, France, Spain and Australia/New Zealand that Marvel had previously pre-sold in the past.

Pact also covers all windows, including homevid. DVD for “Iron Man” bows today, Sept. 30.

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