The 2000s Recession Almost Killed Marvel Studios Before It Started

Before Marvel Studios was the company behind Hollywood's largest film franchise, it went through as many growing pains as any entrepreneurial startup. As it worked to get the initial batch of films off the ground in 2005, the studio was eventually able to secure a sweetheart financing deal from Merrill Lynch. With the new deal, Merril Lynch would provide $525 million to the studio, allowing it to put up zero cash while assuming no risk. At one point, former Marvel Studios head David Maisel said it was all "too good to be true."

It's a deal that likely wouldn't have happened just a few years later when the United States economy tanked during the 2008 recession. In a recent appearance on Awards Chatter, current Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige confirmed as much, saying he doesn't think Merrill Lynch would have been able to provide the financing from 2008 onward. "That's a good question I hadn't thought about. We wouldn't have gotten the loan afterwards, you're probably right," Feige told THR's Scott Feinberg.

The financier ended up hemorrhaging cash as a result of the recession, losing upwards of $51.8 billion for its role in the subprime mortgage crisis before being sold to Bank of America. Some 13 years later, Marvel Studios is now rolling in the dough, having grossed over $22 billion worldwide with its entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Nine separate MCU movies have grossed over $1b worldwide, numbers any movie studio would be thrilled to have.

Other upcoming Marvel Studios projects include Black Widow on May 1, 2020, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in Fall 2020, The Eternals on November 6, 2020, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on February 12, 2021, WandaVision in Spring 2021, Loki in Spring 2021, Spider-Man 3 on July 16, 2021, What If…? in Summer 2021, Hawkeye in Fall 2021, and Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5, 2021, and Black Panther 2 on May 6, 2022. Marvel Studios Disney+ series without release dates include Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk.

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