Marvel bulks up with 'Hulk' date


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.