Lionsgate sets 'Invincible Iron Man'


Lionsgate on Thursday announced the third made-for-video title in its multi-picture deal with Marvel will be "The Invincible Iron Man," with a scheduled DVD release date of Jan. 23, 2007. That's the same month production is slated to start on the big-budget live-action "Iron Man," with Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role reportedly once eyed by Tom Cruise.

The first two films in Lionsgate's deal with Marvel, "Ultimate Avengers -- The Movie" and "Ultimate Avengers 2" -- have sold a combined total of more than 1.5 million units and rank among the top 10 children's releases so far this year.

Lionsgate and Marvel announced their partnership to create and distribute between eight and 10 animated, direct-to-video feature films, based on Marvel Comics characters, in July 2004. The Marvel Animated Features line kicked off in February 2006 with "Ultimate Avengers -- The Movie." "Ultimate Avengers 2" followed last August.

"The Invincible Iron Man" is an original story about billionaire inventor Tony Stark as he raises a long-buried city in China and awakens an unspeakable evil that only Iron Man can destroy.

"Marvel fans are among the most loyal and fervent in existence and they are hungry for Iron Man to take the spotlight," said Lionsgate president Steve Beeks. "The Marvel Animated Features have been so successful because they have lived up to the expectations of these fans in both production quality and storyline. We expect 'The Invincible Iron Man' to experience similar critical and sales success as the feature will bring the superhero to life with a storyline that honors its comic book roots."

The film, created by Marvel Studios' animation team, features several hours of bonus materials, including an alternate opening sequence; several featurettes, including one on the original of Iron Man; and a preview of the next film in the deal, "Dr. Strange."

Lionsgate promises a big-budget marketing campaign that includes a television blitz delivering 400 million impressions.