Marvel, the most prominent name amongst the superhero genre movies or TV series in the World. Since 2008 with more than 8,000 character portfolios, 22 movies and 17 TV series, this comic publisher has created a unique universe, The Marvel Cinematic Universe. Such a large-scale fictional universe was one of the most ambitious projects in the history of the entertainment industry. Many have failed to replicate, and others are still trying. Earning over USD 23 billion, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the world’s largest and most successful movie franchise. According to Statista, more than 40 percent of comic books sold in the USA are published by Marvel. Although Marvel’s total revenue is not known, what are the sources the company generates revenue from?
Overview of Marvel
The journey of Marvel Comics began in 1939 by Martin Goodman with the establishment of Timely Publications. In the same year, 80 thousand copies of their first comic book, Marvel Comic was published. Following the success of the comic, superhero characters such as Captain America, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and Iron Man were created one after another under Goodman, a subsidiary of Timely Publications and Timely Comics. In 1941, the “Captain America” comic, based on World War II, sold nearly 1 million copies. In 1951, Timely Comics was renamed Atlas Comics, and later, it was officially named Marvel.
Marvel Movie Studios was founded in 2003. In addition to the studio, Marvel now has several subsidiaries for comics, animation, and television. Among these, Marvel Comics publishes hard copies and digital copies of their comics such as PDF, ePub, etc. On the other hand, Marvel Studios, produces box office-popular, fan-favorite superhero universe ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ movies.
On December 31, 2009, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment and all the subsidiaries operating under them for USD 4.28 billion. Also, many television series have been produced under Marvel Television. Of these, a total of 17 series have been released, including 6 on Netflix, 3 on ABC, and 5 on Disney +. In addition, in 2022, Marvel is going to release 5 new series and upcoming new seasons of several running series. According to Statista, from 2013 to August 2021, the average revenue from the franchise series was USD 960 million. According to Business Insider, by 2021, Marvel’s box office collection from 25 movies worldwide through the Marvel cinematic universe was about USD 22.93 billion. Statista states, According to publisher’s data from USA Distribution of Comic Store Sales in the third quarter of 2021, Marvel Comics accounted for about 33.5 percent of the total comic sales from USA comic stores.
How Makes Money?
Movie & TV Series
Movies and TV series produced by Marvel are the company’s main source of revenue. Marvel movies are originally produced by ‘Marvel Studios’ and TV series are produced by ‘Marvel Television’. The Avengers: Endgame movie released in 2019 is Marvel’s highest-grossing movie worldwide. Marvel generated USD 2.8 billion in revenue from this movie, which is 8 times its production cost. Marvel’s multi-billion dollar movies include The Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, released in December 2021, generated USD 1.05 billion in revenue over the Christmas weekend only. While the amount of revenue generated by Marvel Studios’ television series on OTT platforms is not revealed, these TV series are one of the major revenue sources for Marvel.
Like other comic publishers, Marvel also generates revenue by licensing the rights of its 8,000 characters in the character portfolio in various ways. From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, Marvel’s characters were licensed and distributed in various media formats, such as movies, television, and video games. In 1998, Marvel identified 4,700 characters with movie potential and signed licensing agreements with Twentieth Century Fox, Sony and Universal. According to Screenrant, Sony owns the rights to more than 900 characters of Marvel including Spider-Man and Venom, through licensing. With the success of movies with Fox and Sony’s Marvel characters, the company began licensing characters for video games. According to VG247, in the first quarter of 2009, Marvel generated a total of USD 80 million in revenue from licensing. Since Disney acquired the company in 2009, it has not been possible to know how much they earn through licensing rights. However, as Sony still owns the rights to the Spiderman characters, it can be assumed that Marvel generates handsome revenue through licensing rights. Also, for the theme park, the characters of the comics have been licensed separately. Universal owns some of the licenses to Marvel’s character’s theme park. Also, these licensing deal keep generating revenue for Marvel.
Since the beginning, the Marvel comic book has been one of the main sources of generating revenue for the company. Since the rise of digital copies of movies, TV series, games and comics, the sales of comics have increased significantly. According to the New York Times, Marvel has published 27000 comic books since 1961. In 2018, around USD 100 million digital copies of comic books were sold in North America alone, and USD 510 million worth of comic books were sold from stores. On the other hand, under the Marvel Now subscription, Marvel allows fans to enjoy digital copies of all new Marvel comics, which is one of the revenue sources of the company as well.
A large portion of Marvel’s revenue comes from various merchandise based on Marvel Comics characters, such as action figures, toys, T-shirts, backpacks, and costume sales. The company’s merchandising portfolio includes products ranging from T-shirts, backpacks, costumes, children’s toys such as soft toys and action figures of the characters. According to the NPD Group, in 2017, Marvel generated about USD 350 million in revenue from sales of Marvel character-based toys in the USA alone. In addition, toy production company Hasbro has been constantly customizing and modifying each of Marvel’s action characters.