Marvel bulks up with 'Hulk' date

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Marvel Studios plans to release "The Incredible Hulk" on June 27, 2008, eight weeks after "Iron Man," the first of several films due courtesy of the company's $525 million finance facility.

The studio shared its release schedule for the green superhero Monday before parent company Marvel Entertainment announced quarterly earning results and next-year guidance that impressed Wall Street.

Marvel's earnings fell to $13.2 million compared with $23.4 million in the year-ago quarter, though the decline was less than analysts had predicted and shares of Marvel rose 5.8% to $26.50, a 52-week high.

Revenue rose 13.7% to $92.2 million with much of the gain coming by way of the company's toy division. Sales there grew 49.3% to $33 million as the company shifted into toy production rather than simply licensing its characters to others.

Marvel's next-year guidance, which also encouraged investors, was for net income of $53 million-$56 million, compared with previous guidance of $43 million-$53 million.

The stronger expectations were attributed in part to bullisnhness related to "Spider-Man 3" merchandise -- the movie opens May 4 -- and license revenue for next year's releases "Ghost Rider" and "Fantastic Four 2."

After those licensed-property films come a string of Marvel's own productions, including "Iron Man," directed by Jon Favreau and starring Robert Downey Jr. as a billionaire inventor who builds a high-tech suit of armor. "Hulk" follows, directed by Louis Leterrier.

Also on the docket from Marvel Studios are "Ant-Man," "Captain America," "Nick Fury," "Thor" and "The Avengers."

Characters that have been licensed to other studios include Wolverine and Magneto (Fox) and Namor (Universal).

Marvel also is developing live-action TV projects based on Alter Ego, Moon Knight and Skrull Kill Krew.
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