Marvel Takes a Page Out of Pixar’s Playbook

Marvel Third Tier Characters

Moviegoers across the world are nothing if not sheep. The most recent works of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich have proved this to be true. If you make it loud and shiny, you will find a big audience. Although, when it comes to comic book movies in 2010, the sheep seem to be frozen stiff. From Kick-Ass to The Losers to this weekend’s Jonah Hex — if you aren’t Iron Man, you aren’t making a splash. It’s enough of a mid-level comic franchise catastrophe to have companies like Marvel Studios rethinking their strategy.

In late April, we discussed the possibility of Marvel bringing smaller characters — the likes of Doctor Strange, Luke Cage and others — to the big screen with more modestly budgeted films. Something in the neighborhood of $20-40 million per project. At the time, it sounded like a decent idea. You minimize risk by keeping upfront costs low and slowly building your brand of B and C-level characters. That was before the Summer, though. Before B and C-level comic stories lost the favor of the crowds.

So Marvel came up with a better idea. Or at least, a better idea as far as I can tell. According to Latino Review, Marvel is now interested in making short films for their lesser known characters. These 10-minute shorts would play in front of their higher profile releases such as Captain America and Thor (both due out next year).

If you think about it, it’s the Pixar method. Short films in front of tentpole features that show off what’s next in the realm of filmmaking talent, stories and characters. And it allows Marvel to spend even less money in order to find out what works and what doesn’t. If the buzz around such projects as the recent Mortal Kombat short is any indication, this is certainly an easy way to poke the fanboy hornet’s nest with a proverbial stick of awesome. And it would help get some of these characters into the public eye. Because lets face it — while you and I would love to see a feature length Doctor Strange film, I’m not sure that my mom and a world of average moviegoers like her would have any interest at all. At least not at first.

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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