Marvel Scuttles 2009 Plans

Comic Con is looking very quiet on the film front this year with the finished writer’s strike and the upcoming actors strike putting a crimp in the 2009 plans for Marvel Entertainment says The Hollywood Reporter.

Since the success of the first “X-Men” in 2000, the comics publisher has churned out thirteen major feature films based on its properties and whilst only a few have met critical success, almost all have proven financially very profitable for the studio. Yet its plans of churning out two-three films per year look to be on hold in 2009 due to the strike causing delays on a number of its key projects in development.

This leaves “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” early next May as the only comic book to movie property they have scheduled next year despite over a dozen properties like “Thor,” “Captain America,” “Luke Cage,” “Sub-Mariner,” “Ant-Man” and a fourth “Spider-Man” in development. With rival DC’s problematic “Justice League” project on indefinite hold, it leaves the X-Men spin-off and Warners “Watchmen” as the only comic book to film properties scheduled for release in 2009.

The move comes at a critical time for the studio whose first independently produced film “Iron Man” premieres in May. The comic book-to-film genre has become glutted with sub-standard efforts of late, a trend that Marvel itself hasn’t helped. Disappointments like “Ghost Rider,” “Elektra,” the “Fantastic Four” films and even the most recent entries in the previously acclaimed “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” franchises has seen audience interest begun to wane or shift to non-Marvel produced comic book adaptations such as “300,” “Batman Begins” or “Superman Returns”.

Not helping is this Summer sees the release of five comic book hero movies in the space of a little over four months. Whilst “Iron Man” is expected to be one of the season’s big hits, Marvel’s attempts to relaunch their “Hulk” and “Punisher” franchises are proving more questionable than anything else and face stiffer competition from Universal’s “Hellboy” sequel and Warner’s “The Dark Knight” which is expected to dominate the late Summer box-office.