This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Thor Beats X-Men in Movie Marketing Smackdown

Stocks in this article: MVL NEWS DIS BKC DPS

LOS ANGELES ( TheStreet) -- If Thor, the young X-Men, Captain America and the Green Lantern all fought, who would win? Their marketing partners.

Including the film adaptations of Tokyopop's Korean comic Priest next week and Platinum Comics' Cowboys vs. Aliens slated for July, there are six potential comic book movie blockbusters on the slate for late spring and early summer of this year -- seven if you count the latest installment of a Transformers franchise that hasn't been considered a hot comic property since the Reagan administration.

Marvel Comics (MVL) alone is responsible for half of that total, as its Paramount Pictures (VIA.B)-released Thor opens Friday, its 20th Century Fox (NEWS)-partnered X-Men: First Class follows on June 3 and Captain America: The First Avenger finishes the trifecta July 22. Still a year away from its next Batman movie, D.C. Comics has to make do with Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern on July 22.

So who'll win the much-awaited match-up of the month between Thor and X-Men: First Class? Our first guess would be Marvel Studios, which has made a habit of turning its stable of comic titles into heroic onscreen efforts whose lone superpower is the ability to turn marginal acting and megadoses of CGI into Galactus-sized mounds of money. With notable exceptions including 2008's Punisher: War Zone, 2005's Elektra and each of the three Blade films, the Marvel Studios movies have each been good for more than $100 million in box-office receipts alone -- which is largely why Disney (DIS) bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in 2009. The lone film released by Marvel last year, Iron Man 2, pulled in $318 million at the U.S. box office on its way to more than $623 million worldwide.

"You can't pay money to be in a films like these, but what these companies can do is pledge their media dollars," says Jeff Greenfield, chief operating officer and co-founder of media analytics group C3 Metrics, describing Marvel's peculiar approach to merchandising. "If you're a car company and you plan to spend $20 million this quarter on a campaign, if you spend $5 million of that to integrate Thor into it so that part of the ad has 'Be sure to see Thor, opening in theaters Friday' at the end of it, in return they'll do big things for you, like exclusive footage for ads or licensing deals for in-store promotion and purchases."

As marketers noticed during Iron Man 2's run last year, superheroes have pretty broad shoulders for carrying a stable of brands to success right along with them. Among the brands attached NASCAR-style to Iron Man's armor last year were Burger King (BKC), 7-Eleven, Dr. Pepper Snapple (DPS), LG, Oracle (ORCL), Symantec (SYMC), Hershey (HSY), Audi, racing-oil producer Royal Purple and Chinese clothing retailer Semir. Yes, it was easier for marketers to jump on a known commodity such as Iron Man, whose first movie alone made $586 million globally, but it's not as if Thor and X-Men: First Class marketers are dealing with some mysterious masked entity.

"They said that a Batman film couldn't be made and after Batman was made and it was successful, there was concern over Spider Man," Greenfield says. "Most people know that they're getting involved with a successful franchise and it's going to do well."

In this case, Thor is just one of the films Marvel's using to build to its 2012 blockbuster The Avengers, which requires appearances from Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and The Hulk. While the Captain America film hasn't been released yet, 2003's Hulk was considered disappointing and still grossed $243 million worldwide. Marvel's apology film, 2008's The Incredible Hulk brought in $263 million. Even if Thor doesn't end up on par with Iron Man 2, which opened on the same weekend last year, it's still a coup for marketers.

The same holds true for X-Men: First Class, a prequel to 2000's X-Men and part of a franchise that has made a total of $1.5 billion on its own and hasn't made less than $300 million at the box office in more than a decade. X-Men took in $296 million worldwide, while its two sequels in 2003 and 2006 made $407 million and $459 million, respectively. Even when Marvel decides to make a prequel, such as 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it still brings in more than $373 million.

That tips the scales toward X-Men: First Class, but let's look at how the films' marketing matches up before hammering the God of Thunder too harshly:

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!

Markets

DOW 18,030.21 +6.04 0.03%
S&P 500 2,081.88 -0.29 -0.01%
NASDAQ 4,773.4720 +8.0480 0.17%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs