The new agreements expand the pre-existing relationship between Marvel and Artisan Entertainment, acquired by Lions Gate in December 2003, which allowed Artisan to produce and distribute feature films based upon The Punisher® character. Marvel and Lions Gate will share equally in certain revenues derived from the properties, with Lions Gate funding development, production and distribution. Marvel will be handling all merchandising in connection with the films.
The new pact comes as both companies prepare for the highly-anticipated theatrical debut of "The Punisher," the first release stemming from the original alliance. Starring Thomas Jane, John Travolta and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, the film will be released nationwide on April 16, 2004. Plans for a sequel have already been finalized and development has begun.
Iron Fist has been a major force in the Marvel Universe for 30 years, combining the action and adventure of a Marvel Super Hero® with the skill and grace of a martial artist. Raised by monks in the hidden mountain city of K'un L'un, young Danny Rand was taught the ancient technique of the Iron Fist, which grants its users the power to level a building with a single blow and gives them complete control over their mind, body, and spirit. Returning to America as an adult, Iron Fist uses his amazing abilities to help those in need while, at the same time, seeking to avenge the murder of his parents.
One of Marvel's most prominent female characters, the Black Widow has been thrilling readers with her adventures for 40 years. Trained by the KGB to be the Soviet Union's premiere spy, Natasha Romanov found herself a woman without a cause or a country to serve when the Berlin Wall came down. International intrigue and suspense meet the hi-tech gadgetry and spectacle that can only be found in Marvel Comics as the Black Widow tries to find her place in a world without borders.
"Working with Lions Gate on 'The Punisher' was a great experience and we feel very comfortable expanding this relationship to include two more exciting franchises," commented Arad. "We are already starting on 'The Punisher II,' which will become the fifth Marvel property to become a sequel."
"We like to create alliances with companies that have powerful brands, and Marvel has one of the most popular, exciting and recognized brands in the world," said Lions Gate Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer. "We believe that the nationwide launch of 'The Punisher' and access to two more cutting edge Marvel characters will kick off a long-term relationship between Lions Gate and Marvel that is rich with opportunity across all of our core businesses."