Okay, we've all been reading the arguments about why Marvel won't be making any Iron Man movies any time soon, Robert Downey Jr's (RDJ) contract is too expensive and looks like it is expiring.
Now here's my business argument for future Iron Man movies, why Marvel could produce another trilogy of Iron Man and still pay RDJ his sacks of money. It's called a loss leader. Any business with any product can use a loss leader, a giveaway, a free gift or something they're happy to take a bite on. It often brings customers through the door for all of the other products. Marvel has already broken the Hollywood mould with their plans for multi-phase productions, and TV spin-offs, spin-outs, spin-alongsides.
No longer will we see the single-production gamble that is the norm for most films. In the Marvel Universe we're seeing a long term plan to build an entire package, and one or two films are just parts of a bigger, bolder vision.
Planned through to 2028 (according to some statements) the Marvel Universe movies will be attracting new fans who aren't even born yet, but will be catching up with all the earlier films online or disc, or whatever comes along to capture and enjoy your favourite movies in decades to come.
Iron Man and the talent of RDJ were the spark to launch all of this and remain the peak for the Marvel Universe entertainment. The Iron Man films are likely to remain popular for the entire life of the Marvel Universe's global domination plan.
Creating new Iron Man films will give Marvel the opportunity to maintain this standard and popular attraction for another decade as they wean other new brand superheroes into the pack. Guardians of the Galaxy obviously comes to mind.
In this context the traditional Hollywood formula, one film at a time, no longer makes sense. Paying RDJ his truckload of cash may not make business sense for any studio if they look at each film, but taken as part of a massive thirty-year production package Iron Man is a high-profile attraction that can keep audiences alive and returning.
The profit from any future Iron Man production will come with the sale of all their other films alongside it.
This is the role of the loss leader, take the hit and lead everyone into the rest of the package. Three Marvel films or more a year, plus all of the TV output, and you're looking at a huge end-package that will sell, and sell, and sell for decades. Compared to this money stream RDJ's pay packet is peanuts, golden little peanuts.