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Marvel Takes Page from Lucasfilm’s PR Playbook

Both companies aim to release news first on their websites for future films

When it announced that Robert Downey Jr. will return for two “Avengers” sequels, Marvel Studios made it clear that it has embraced Lucasfilm’s method for controlling how news gets revealed about its movies.

Lucasfilm has long used StarWars.com to officially announce directors, cast and other production elements related to its sci-fi franchise. While the news had already been reported by other news outlets, Lucasfilm had a strategy of not confirming the reports until it was ready. After its $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm last year, Disney also took the same position with news surrounding the seventh “Star Wars” installment that J.J. Abrams will direct.

For weeks leading up to an announcement of Abrams’ involvement, Disney declined to confirm reports of his hire or that of writer Michael Arndt and producers Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan until a press release was posted on StarWars.com.

Now Marvel is taking a page from the same playbook.

“Be sure you stay glued to Marvel.com because in the coming days and weeks and months, Marvel.com will be FIRST in the world to reveal additional casting updates, new characters coming to Marvel movies and so much more — directly from the most secret meetings at Marvel!” the company posted on Marvel.com.

The move is sure to ruffle the feathers of news outlets and the blogosphere always eager to break news on Marvel Studios projects, running the latest rumors past Marvel or Disney’s PR department. Just like “Star Wars,” anything that has to do with Marvel movies drives traffic to websites. And being first is always better.

But Marvel and Lucasfilm also realize that when they eventually announce something that too will also get picked up everywhere. News, after all, is still news. While the Internet has made controlling the message harder than ever, Marvel and Lucasfilm prove it’s still possible.

Marvel Studios has always been more secretive than most, opting not to confirm a hire until well after they’ve already started working on film. For example, Jon Favreau already had been publicly discussing his work developing “Iron Man 2” long before Marvel officially confirmed his return to direct the film.

Marvel and Lucasfilm aren’t alone.

During the production of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” Lionsgate also chose to only confirm casting news via Twitter. The studio dropped that strategy after Lionsgate and Summit merged.

But it wouldn’t be surprising if it chose to adopt a more proactive move to how it confirms business decisions on its films again.

As studios rely on well-established properties to fill their release schedules, attention levels will always be on high for anything involving their development through release. And with websites, Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, Instagram and other social media platforms, it’s becoming a little easier for studios to pick and choose what they want to distribute to their fanbase.

As Marvel put it on its website: “You wouldn’t want to miss out on that now, would you?!”

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