Akiva Goldsman has been set as producer

While Disney lays down a $4 billion bet on the future of Marvel’s superheroes, 20th Century Fox has already begun overhauling one of its big Marvel franchises, “Fantastic Four,” to take the property beyond the two films already made.

Akiva Goldsman has been hired to oversee the reboot as producer. Michael Green, the co-exec producer of TV’s “Heroes” who co-wrote “Green Lantern,” will write the script for the new “Fantastic Four.”

Fox wouldn’t comment on its plans, but the moves are evidence that Marvel franchises do have enduring lifespans.

As “Spider-Man 4″ moves toward an early 2010 production start, Columbia Pictures recently hired James Vanderbilt to write a fifth and sixth installment with the understanding that one or both of those films would give the franchise a makeover with a new director and cast (Daily Variety, Aug. 16).

The 2005 “Fantastic Four” and 2007 sequel “Rise of the Silver Surfer” were directed by Tim Story and starred Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis. Since the deals for the reboot are just getting made, it is unclear if any of them will return.

Though Marvel Entertainment owns and finances properties like “Iron Man” and “Thor,” Fox controls “Fantastic Four” in perpetuity — as long as it continues making the films. Fox has the same arrangement on Marvel Comics properties “X-Men,” “Daredevil” and “Silver Surfer.” Marvel is a producer and financial participant through a licensing agreement.

Though the related Silver Surfer character soared in the “Fantastic Four” sequel, that iconic personality has remained a priority project for his own film at the studio.

Fox has so far done one “X-Men” spinoff in “Wolverine.” The studio is working on a sequel to that film and has scripts for “X-Men Origins: First Class,” and “X-Men Origins: Magneto.” Potential spinoffs for the Gambit and Deadpool characters have also been discussed.

As producer, Goldsman is involved with several DC Comics transfers, including “Jonah Hex,” “The Losers” and “Teen Titans.” He was also producer of the Will Smith-Charlize Theron superhero film “Hancock,” for which a sequel is being developed.

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