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Direct-To-Video "Marvel Animated Features" Line Plans For Future Releases

August 08, 2008 by James Harvey

The Lionsgate and Marvel Animation Marvel Animated Features line of direct-to-video animated features looks ahead to future releases.

After the last direct-to-video animated feature co-production between Lionsgate and Marvel Animation, Doctor Strange, failed to reach the heights of its predecessors in terms of sales, the next release in the Marvel Animated Features line, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow is expected boost sales and be a big seller for the studio. While the exact sales numbers are unknown at this time, the DVD release of Doctor Strange premiered well below what the releases of Ultimate Avengers: The Movie, Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther, and The Invincible Iron Man sold when each respective title premiered. Unfortunately, accurate sales numbers can not be obtained from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. However, Craig Kyle, Supervising Producer for the Marvel Animated Features line, has gone on record stating The Invincible Iron Man remains a strong seller more than 20 months after its initial DVD release, selling over 1 million copies and edging out Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther as the second highest-selling title. Kyle also states that Ultimate Avengers: The Movie remains the top seller for the Marvel Animated Features line.

Similar to the release strategy of Warner Home Video's successful DC Universe Animated Original Movie direct-to-video animated feature line, each Marvel Animated Features co-production between Lionsgate and Marvel Animation has to be a big seller out of the gate. Even with the eight-movie deal between the studios, the contract can be cancelled if sales are underwhelming. However, the Marvel Animated Features line has been a proven success, even with the underperformance of Doctor Strange. The next title in Marvel and Lionsgate stable is Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, a title Lionsgate and Marvel hope will both reach a wider audience and be the start of a new animated franchise appealing to the younger market. Despite the youth-appeal, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow will be aimed toward new fans and traditional Marvel fans.

To keep the Marvel Animated Features line stable for the final three films in the initial contract between Marvel and Lionsgate, more familiar heroes will be the focus of the upcoming releases. The next release, planned for a January 2009 release, is called Hulk Versus, and will headline Hulk, Wolverine, and Thor. After that, Thor will be spun into his own anthology title called Thor: Tales of Asgard, scheduled for September 2009. The live-action Thor film, coincidentally, is scheduled to follow shortly afterwards in 2010. The eight and final film in the current Marvel Animated Features production slate is Hulk: Planet Hulk, which is set for an early 2010 release. The buzz is already high on the title due to the popularity of the storyline from which it is based.

More films after the initial eight are in the very early planning stages, but whether or not Marvel and Lionsgate will continue their co-production relationship remains to be seen. An announcement on the future of the Marvel Animated Features line is expected next year as the initial eight-film deal winds down. Even if Marvel and Lionsgate opt to discontinue their relationship, other studios have expressed interest in picking up the Marvel Animated Features line. However, more Marvel Animated Features releases after the initial eight are likely due to Marvel's current popularity on the live-action feature film front. The highly-demanded Ultimate Avengers 3 is currently a big possibility due to the upcoming live-action The Avengers feature film in 2011. On top of other Marvel heroes being looked at for solo or team adventures, a sequel to The Invincible Iron Man is also being looked at, as well as a solo Captain America animated film. None of these titles can be confirmed at this time, but stay tuned for further updates on all of the upcoming Marvel Animated Features releases.

The next Marvel Animated Features title, the direct-to-video Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow animated feature, premieres September 2nd, 2008 on DVD and Blu-Ray, followed closely behind with Hulk Versus on January 13th, 2009. Stay tuned for further updates.

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Note: The MAA News Staff will be on vacation next week, from August 11th - August 15th, 2008, so there will be no regular news updates posted. However, sporadic updates may occur. Expect the regular news updates to return on August 18th, 2008.



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