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Marvel making deals for title wave

Favreau set to mold 'Iron Man'

Jon Favreau is set to direct Marvel Studios’ live-action feature “Iron Man,” which will now be distribbed by Paramount.

News is part of a wider announcement from Marvel outlining a barrage of directing and writing deals for a slate of films it is developing with aims to independently finance out of a $525 million fund from Merrill Lynch.

All the pics but one, “The Incredible Hulk,” will be distribbed by Par under an existing service agreement.

  • “Iron Man,” Marvel’s top priority, also has nabbed writing duo Arthur Marcum and Matt Hollaway (“Convoy”).

New Line gave rights back to Marvel last year after several years of unsuccessful development. (Daily Variety, Nov. 3)

  • Marvel disclosed it is pursuing a second “Hulk” pic, despite the so-so performance of Ang Lee’s 2003 film. Zak Penn, who has collaborated with Marvel on several features, including the upcoming “X-Men: The Last Stand,” will pen the script for what’s being called “Incredible Hulk.”

Universal, which handled the first “Hulk,” would distribute the follow-up.

Follow-up is expected to have a smaller budget and be less erudite. “There’s something very primal about the Hulk that we didn’t get in movie one,” said Marvel Studios chair Avi Arad.

  • Scribe David Self (“Thirteen Days,” “Road to Perdition”) has been tapped to pen the long-awaited feature version of “Captain America.”

  • Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) will direct and co-write with Joe Cornish the feature film “Ant Man.” Always seen as a bit of a ridiculous super-hero — his power is to control ants — duo plan to give the big-screen “Ant-Man” a comedic twist.

Wright will also co-produce with Nira Park, his partner at Big Talk Prods.

  • Marvel has tapped scribe Andrew Marlowe (“Air Force One,” “Hollow Man”) to pen the script for “Nick Fury,” based on Marvel’s military super spy.

  • Fresh off writing Warner Bros. “Poseidon,” Mark Protosevich will pen Marvel’s “Thor.”

Arad said the intent is to use the $525 million Merrill Lynch debt facility to finance “Iron Man” and the “Hulk,” even though those titles were not among the 10 listed when the deal with Merrill Lynch was struck last spring.

If those pics are produced, Marvel would have to either raise more money or put aside other projects in development to make room.

Budgets on Marvel pics are expected to be between $50 million and $165 million.

Marvel hasn’t committed to put any of its pics into production yet, though it’s hoping to release the first one by 2008. “Iron Man” and “Incredible Hulk” are furthest along and thus most likely to hit that date.

Marvel has seven other super heroes and teams in development without talent yet attached.

“These are all giant titles. Obviously, there’s a lot of work to be done,” Arad said.

After “Iron Man” and “Hulk,” Marvel’s next priority is “Captain America,” which Arad said he hopes to release in 2009.

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