Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stan Lee: 10% or $10 Million?

Stan Lee Biography

I was recently reading the biography, Stan Lee: Creator of Spider-Man with my son and I learned quite a bit about "The Man." But one little tidbit tucked in the back of the book really made me stand up and take notice.

The book says that Stan Lee has a contract with Marvel to get 10% of all profits from movies starring characters he created. That's 10% of EVERYTHING - not just the box office but all the ancillary profits from toys, video games, shirts, DVD's, licensing rights - you name it.

To put that in perspective, Marvel movies have made BILLIONS of dollars worldwide in box office alone. Now, sure, not all of that is Marvel profits but Marvel certainly sees a sizable chunk of that. Add toys on top of that (toys from the original Spider-Man movie topped over $100 million in sales in one year alone) and it's a virtual gold mine.

So if Stan Lee's gotten 10% of all of that, he's a very, very wealthy man - right?

Wrong. In 2002, Stan Lee sued Marvel (after the first few Spider-Man movies were a hit) because they weren't paying him and he won. But then Marvel appealed and the decision was overturned. Instead, Marvel paid Lee a one-time $10 million and Lee completely signed over the rights to all of the great characters he created.

Think of it. 10% would have been hundreds of millions of dollars (heck, maybe even a billion!) to date but instead Lee only got $10 million. Marvel should be ashamed of themselves because without Lee they'd be making NOTHING!

Still, I'll give Stan Lee a ton of credit - he still appears in these films, still promotes them for all he's worth, and still has a good attitude about the whole thing.

Stan Lee, to me, you'll always be "The Man" and it's a shame Marvel decided to stab you in the back when you're the one that built Marvel with your own two hands.

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