Genius Brands International and Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment have launched a joint venture, Stan Lee Universe, which will assume worldwide rights, in perpetuity, to the works and likeness of the iconic comic book creator.
The venture gains control of the name, physical likeness, physical signature, live-action and animated motion picture, television, online and digital, publishing, comic book, merchandising and licensing rights to Stan Lee and all his IP creations created after his time at Marvel Entertainment. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Jointly owned and “subject to due diligence and documentation”, the deal will leave Genius Brands as the managing and controlling partner of the Stan Lee Universe. It will gain access to more than 100 of his original creations, from which it will develop and license approximately seven properties per year, including titles such as Tomorrow Men, Stringbean, Black Fury and Virus.
Lee, who passed away in 2018, was, for decades, the editor and creative force at Marvel Comics, helping to transform it from a small publishing enterprise into a multimedia powerhouse worth billions. He created some of the world’s most successful comic characters, including Spider-Man, the X-Men and Captain America, and his works inspired the best-selling movie franchise The Avengers.
Marvel Entertainment, including Marvel Comics, was acquired by the Walt Disney Company in 2009 for USD$4.4 billion.
Andy Heyward, chairman & CEO of Genius Brands, said: “In all of Hollywood, there is no greater prize. This is the Holy Grail. Stan Lee Universe is a once in a lifetime asset drawn from over 100 original, heretofore unexploited properties, created by the most successful creator of intellectual property of our time.”
“It’s almost impossible to conceive that one mind created all this wealth,” continued Heyward. “The spinoffs alone defy the imagination. From animated television, to toys, apparel, video games, and every conceivable licensed product imaginable, Stan Lee characters populate the screens and retail shelves worldwide. There is no creator who has influenced pop culture and created more successful entertainment.”
Former president of Walt Disney Television and CCO of Genius Brands’ new Kartoon Channel!, David Neuman said, “The spinoff opportunities for Kartoon Channel! alone are mindboggling, including a dedicated Stan Lee Universe program block.”
Last month, Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger became a majority investor in Genius Brands and will star in and help to develop a new franchise – Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten – which is co-produced alongside POW! Entertainment, as well as China’s Alibaba Group and Schwarzenegger’s Oak Productions.