Stan Lee Screwed Out of Spider-Man Profits

Slashdot linked to this article highlighting the Enron-like accounting system used by Hollywood. Stan Lee has a standing agreement with Marvel Entertainment that he is to receive 10 percent of the profits from any television or film venture using characters that he created.

Well, Spider-Man, raked in over $400 million in the United States, but under Hollywood accounting that means it didn’t make any profits at all and so Marvel has told Lee, sorry, but Spider-Man just wasn’t profitable. Lee is suing Marvel for $10 million and hoping he doesn’t get screwed out of profits for The Daredevil, Hulk, and the X-Men sequel.

Speaking of Spider-Man, the other day my wife and I are watching it with my daughter on DVD. During the big crowd fighting scene between Spidey and the Green Goblin, I tell my wife, “hey look, there’s a cameo with Stan Lee.” I rewind it and run it again, at which point she looks at me and asks, “Who’s Stan Lee?”

Men are from Zenn-La, women are from Venus, I guess.


Spider-Man creator sues Marvel. Reuters, Nov. 12, 2002.


Henry Hanks writes:

I can’t exactly shed a tear for the guy since he’s made every effort to take full credit for work that was partially due to the toil and sweat of others…

That may be, but I think the bigger issues is the persistent uses of creative accounting by Hollywood to make blockbusters appear unprofitable on paper so they don’t have to fulfill their contracts with writers and others intellectual property creators (but, of course, they then turn around and assert their own intellectual property interests to make damn sure that I don’t do something as horrible as make a backup copy of the Spider-Man DVD.)

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