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The Biz: Marvel Powers Up Iron Man, Incredible Hulk For 2008

The following was originally posted on BrandWeek.com:

MARVEL Entertainment is looking ahead to summer '08 with licensing programs for Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, the first two movies from its new self-financed and -produced film slate.

Partners include Hasbro and Hallmark.

With retail real estate so competitive among film-based properties—especially during the summer blockbuster period—Marvel is signing licensees that will take on both superheroic stories in order to get a full-season of shelf space at retail.

"What we're looking to do, from a strategic standpoint, is kind of 'own' 2008," said Paul Gitter, svp-consumer products for North America, Marvel Entertainment. "The goal is to go out to manufacturers and retailers, and create some continuity with both films from May through the back-to-school window."

Iron Man and Incredible Hulk licensees include Hasbro (master toy licensee), Hallmark (social expressions and party goods), Kids Headquarters (boys & girls apparel), Jay Franco (domestics), Mad Engine (T-shirts), Fruit of the Loom (underwear), Disguise (costumes), BBC (footwear), Berkshire (headwear and cold weather), Mega Bloks (construction toys) and Jakks Pacific (plug & play games), AME (sleepwear), Sideshow (collectibles), FAB (back-to-school & arts and crafts) and MGA (die-cast vehicles). Marvel is looking to add partners in other key licensing categories, such as food & beverages, consumer electronics and publishing. Licensees were given a directive to incorporate innovation into their products and urged to view their creations as components of a collection, not one-off items. Transformation also is a key element of both properties.

The strategy of signing licensees for both properties to "own" summer follows a successful run with Spider-Man on screens and at retail. Sony's third film in the franchise hits theaters this summer and Spidey has become a day-in, day-out business for Marvel.

Gitter hopes new film properties could turn in to perennials, too.

The Paramount-distributed, Jon Favreau-directed Iron Man (May 2, 2008) stars Robert Downey Jr. (as Tony Stark/Iron Man), Terrence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow. The Incredible Hulk (June 13, 2008) will be distributed by Universal, but is not a sequel to the studio's Hulk (2003). The film is not yet cast.

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