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Marvel to prime pupils

'Fantastic' lesson plan for kids

NEW YORK — Marvel Enterprises is heading back to elementary school to distribute a six-week lesson plan for 2 million second- through fourth-graders that will promote the upcoming “Fantastic Four” adventure pic.

Marvel, which pacted with 20th Century Fox to produce the summer tentpole, revealed the marketing/educational effort Tuesday at the Bear Stearns media confab in Palm Beach, Fla.

Company believes the Do Your Thing campaign will introduce the Fantastic Four franchise to a core demo and foster brand awareness as the July 8 bow approaches.

Turning to other pics in the works, Marvel Studios chief Avi Arad told investors that a director would soon be announced for “X-Men 3.” Helmer Bryan Singer dropped out of the project to direct “Superman” for Warner Bros.

“There are other Bryan Singers out there,” Arad said. “There will be a happy ending.”

Arad also said “Ghost Rider,” with Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes, has started shooting in Australia.

Studio topper conceded Marvel made a mistake in rushing “Elektra” into release. “We will never do that again,” he said.

As part of the Do Your Thing school campaign, more than 8,000 teacher guides will be sent to 6,000 predominantly public schools nationwide. At the same time, 1 million Marvel Adventure Fantastic Four comicbooks will be put directly in the hands of students.

Comic, written by educators, is geared to teach kids about the pride the Fantastic Four characters take in their interests and talents, and hence teach kids to take stock in their own talents. Accompanying lesson plan will focus on reading, science, math and visual arts. The winner of a Do Your Thing essay contest will be drawn into a Fantastic Four comic and will receive $1,000 in Toy Biz products.

“Educators are telling us more and more that they have better success teaching children to read through comicbooks, not Jack and Jill running up the hill,” Marvel Enterprises vice chair Peter Cuneo said.

Do Your Thing, which runs March 14-April 29, is being carried out by Cover Concepts, a division of Marvel Enterprises that is the largest distributor of materials in classrooms.

Separately, Marvel Enterprises has inked a deal to distribute its comicbooks to 7,000 7-Eleven stores across the country while expanding its presence in Barnes & Noble stores by 300 locations.

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