Marvel Comics and Movies
Here's one for the geeks...Marvel Comics was so broke a in the late 80's and early 90's they sold the film and television rights of a host of their major characters to keep afloat. That's why SONY (Columbia Pictures) owns Spider-man and Ghost Rider, Fox owns X-Men/Wolverine, The Fantastic Four and Daredevil/Elektra, New Line (Warner Bros) owns Blade and Lionsgate had the Punisher. Now, after a time, if these film studios aren't producing something using the characters, the rights revert back to the owner...
Marvel got their own studio up and running off the back of one of their second tier franchises: Iron Man, which was a massive hit. This year The Avengers became the 3rd highest grossing movie of all time so Marvel Studios is now happily building their Universe on their terms.
Sony are not letting go of Spider-man...not yet at least. They just rebooted the franchise...so Spidey isn't headed back to Marvel anytime soon. Fox have a Wolverine and X-Men movie in the works so they're not giving that up. Some of the others though are starting to reach their time limits.
Recent negotiations between Fox and Marvel over the rights of Daredevil, Silver Surfer and Galactus broke down so Fox is holding onto the Surfer and giving up Daredevil. The Man Without Fear headed back to Marvel is great news for fans.
The most baffling aspect of all these comic book/movie studio deals is that DC Comics finds it so difficult to get their projects up and running. DC is wholly owned by Time Warner Inc...which owns Warner Bros, New Line, HBO, The WB Network and the Cartoon Network. And really, except for Batman and Superman they've failed to really bring any of their characters to the big or small screen with any success. (Don't expect a Green Lantern sequel soon)
Coming soon for DC - A new Superman movie and a Green Arrow TV show. There's rumors of a Justice League movie, after Marvel's huge Avengers success but that's stalled out before and looks likely to stall again. The Wonder Woman TV show died at the pilot stage and despite constant rumors of an Aquaman movie...no-one's too interested in a character that speaks to fish...
Marvel meanwhile have a new Iron Man movie on the way. Then right behind it expect the sequels to Captain America and Thor. Ant-man is still in the process of being put together by the director of "Shaun of the Dead" and Marvel announced at Comic-con that they're going to produce a Guardians of the Galaxy movie...expanding their intergalactic Universe.
Oh and best of all, Marvel just signed up Joss Whedon to write and direct the sequel to Avengers! :0)