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‘Barbershop’ director to helm ‘Fantastic Four’

Tim Story will start shooting the film this summer, aiming for a July 2005 release
/ Source: Reuters

Tim Story has been picked to direct a movie based on Marvel comic book heroes “Fantastic Four,” with shooting set to start this summer ahead of a July 2005 release in theaters, a Marvel spokesman said Tuesday.

Story previously directed the 2002 low-budget hit “Barbershop” for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and has a new film “Taxi,” based on the French hit comedy of the same name, coming up this year.

Shares of licensing company Marvel Enterprises Inc. gained 5.97 percent to end at $21.47, up $1.21, on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday.

“The appointment of a director has been much awaited, which we believe will enhance confidence in the 2005 lineup by allaying concerns regarding Marvel’s ability to grow earnings in 2005 versus 2004,” Southwest Securities financial analyst Arvind Bhatia wrote in a research report.

New York-based Marvel will see its “Spider-Man 2” movie released by Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures this summer. But investors were concerned the licensing and comic book company lacked a high-profile superhero movie for 2005.

Movies with well-known characters like “Spider-Man” spur sales of toys and other merchandise, helping boost Marvel’s licensing fees. Films about lesser known characters, such as ”The Punisher,” have less impact on merchandise sales.

The “Fantastic Four” — Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, The Thing and Human Torch — are one of the comics’ most popular and enduring groups of superheroes. But they aren’t crime fighters like Spider-Man. They are adventurers and space explorers in contact with alien races.

The foursome first appeared in a Marvel comic in 1961.

Marvel is working on the film with Twentieth Century Fox film studio, a unit of News Corp. Ltd’s Fox Entertainment Group Inc.

Fox shares fell 0.94 percent to end at $28.40 on Tuesday, while News Corp.’s American Depositary Shares gained 1.49 percent to end NYSE trading at $37.43.