How Did Marvel Go From The Brink of Failure To Smashing Cinematic Records?
Some superhero flavoured inspiration for you!
By Sukh Singh, Associate Partner & Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International
Recently this year, we saw the passing of a legend, Stan Lee, co-creator of the Marvel comic books.
Marvel Studios has just released the trailer for possibly the most anticipated and groundbreaking film of the decade - Avengers: Endgame. Already within 24 hours, it's reached nearly 300 million views - breaking its own records (230 million views for Avengers: Infinity War).
How have we reached this point where a mere superhero film has drawn such popularity? Well, here are some surprising and humbling insights to a comic-book-house on the brink of breaking down that has turned into one of the most dominant movie studios today.
The Struggle To Get Seen
"It was literally a daily fight, trying to open people’s eyes to what was right in front of them,"
- Avi Arad, former head of Marvel Films
In its early days, Marvel Films was trying to partner with other film studios to get their amazing characters up on the screen, but as Mr Arad shares, it was like trying to sell ice to Eskimos.
Giving Away A Lot, For Little Return
Once the comic book giant did get its characters moving on screen, the 'success' seemed hardly worth it...
Blade made $70m at the box office, but the reward for Marvel, according to a Slate article, was a measly $25,000. The X-Men and Spider-Man movies were huge hits, but Marvel only saw a small percentage of the profits. "We were giving away the best part of our business," said Arad.
The Birth of a New Studio
What so many people, businesses and organisations struggle with is seeing zero results for maximum effort. But we need to always question, am I taking the very best approach here? What can we be doing differently? So many people give up because they look at failing as an option. There is an old adage though - 'Find a Way or Make One'.
In 2003, a talent agent named David Maisel came to Marvel's Isaac Perlmutter with a proposal. Why not produce the movies under your own banner, and reap the profits for yourself? And if you're producing your own movies, why can't the stories cross over with each other, just like they do in the comics?
Marvel sought out a deal to be funded by Merill Lynch, and Marvel Studios was born. First came Iron Man in 2008.
Finding The Right Leader
Having the money is usually what most people think makes them succeed. But without the right leader and the right team, you're going nowhere fast...
Kevin Feige got his start in the film business as an assistant to producer Lauren Shuler Donner (wife of director Richard). Feige's love of comics was such that, despite his relatively young age, Feige landed the role of producer on Fox's production of X-Men - he was just 27 at the time. Going on to produce other Marvel films thereafter - including Spider-Man, Daredevil and Hulk - Feige was brought in as president of Marvel Studios in 2007. Under his watch, Marvel continued to blossom; Iron Man, his first credit as producer for the studio, made $585m, kickstarting a cinematic universe that is still only just unfolding.
What you've just read, and what you're about to watch, has taken incredible levels of discipline, proactivity, vision and relationships steeped in trust and respect. In other words, this hasn't come easy.
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