Maisel touts game-based films

Former Marvel chair talks at Variety Summit

Forget superheroes. The next wave of major movie franchises will come from casual games, starting with “Angry Birds.”

That was the message delivered Thursday at the 3D Gaming Summit by former Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel, now a strategic adviser to “Angry Birds” creator Rovio.

Maisel, who oversaw the launch of Marvel Studios’ movie franchises with “Iron Man,” noted that film versions of videogames have not been consistent winners, with 23 pics averaging about $35 million in domestic B.O.

“They’ve been made by companies that will lower the budget and try to hit a single, rather than the home run you get from an ‘Avatar’ or a superhero film,” Maisel said. With console games, “the potential for big entertainment franchises wasn’t as great. With casual gaming, so many people are playing them, I think it’s the first time we’ll see massive brands coming out of the game world and superseding what gaming has been,” he predicted.

“Rather than redoing superheroes this is a chance to start a new wave,” Maisel said.

The merchandising potential of casual games is also vast, he added.

“It used to be the only way to create a global merchandisable property was through a blockbuster picture or through a really successful global cartoon show. Both those things are really expensive and hard to do. Even with a film brand you don’t normally sell that much merchandise on the first movie; it’s on the sequel,” Maisel said.

“Angry Birds,” however, is generating interest unlike anything he ever saw in his movie career. “It actually makes the analytics of the (‘Angry Birds’) movie tougher, because we could probably sell the merchandise without a movie,” he said.

Maisel said he hopes “Angry Birds” will illustrate to the movie business the potential of “massive brands coming in from the gaming realm.”