When Ari Nearly Bought Superman

6:00 AM PST 08/16/2011 by Eriq Gardner
Timothy A. Clay/AFP/Getty Images

Superagent Ari Emanuel as Superman's owner? It almost happened. Documents filed in litigation between Warner Bros. and the estates of Man of Steel co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster reveal that in 2002, WME's Emanuel made a blockbuster $15 million offer to acquire Superman rights from the Siegel estate. Warners is at war with Marc Toberoff, the Siegels' and Shusters' lawyer, whom the studio claims improperly convinced the families to terminate rights grants. Emanuel, who had a joint venture with Toberoff, is said to have offered the Siegel estate $15 million plus "meaningful" backend for their interest in Superman. This was more than what Warners was offering, and studio lawyer Dan Petrocelli argues that the Emanuel/Toberoff offer was a ploy "designed to break off [the Siegels'] dealings with DC Comics and Warner Bros." Unfortunately for Emanuel, the Siegels turned him down. "My mother and I discussed it," explained Laura Siegel Larson during her deposition, "and our feeling was that if he was willing to come up with $15 million … that told us that the property was worth a lot more than that." Eventually, Emanuel agreed to a 5 percent commission for negotiating any Superman transaction. But the arrangement ended in 2005 before a federal judge awarded the Siegels and Shusters certain rights to character. (Warners is appealing.) According to Larson, Emanuel is no longer involved with Superman. WME declined comment.     

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