Is a holding company acquiring what is left of Platinum Studios?

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201403040301 Is a holding company acquiring what is left of Platinum Studios?

Few stories here have been as entertaining to cover from a financial skullduggery aspect as the saga of Platinum Studios, a long running con game of a company that cheated a bunch of creators out of their creations while coasting on the success of the first Men in Black film, which it had published in comics form. Founded in 1997, it developed a ton of comics for years without publishing anything while hoping for salvation from the Cowboys and Aliens. I wrote a long history of the company’s bizarre penny stock antics here but the short version is that this business plan never works:

Step 1: buy any comics IP lying around in hopes of making a movie
Step 2: ??
Step 3: Profit!

Anyway, the epicenter—if you call a dozen messages a month an epicenter—of all things Platinum these days is the stock message board, where someone glommed on to the fact that a stock holding company KCG Holdings (NYSE: KCG), a subsidiary ofKCG America, LLC, is buying a lot of stock in the company, a lot meaning 27 million shares. KCG itself is a well established stock trading company of some kind, although just last year it had to make a $12 million settlement for playing a little too fast and loose with money at one point. A fitting partner for Platinum then!

KCG’s interest was revealed in a February 14th filing, as apparently the SEC requires a company to report when they have purchased more than 5% of another company.

Does this mean anything? Is there even anything left of Platinum to take over? Once it claimed to own 5000 properties, but few of them had much of a fanbase, to put it mildly. Since the board drama of a year ago—Platinum’s new president tried to oust owner Scott Mitchell Rosenberg only to have Rosenberg fire him and an investor’s meeting turn into a disaster—the only news of the company was a sale of its storage units last summer. The penny stock was last worth a penny in 2011, it hasn’t tweeted since September 2012, or made any SEC filings since about the same time.

And what of Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, the legendary mastermind behind Platinum, Cowboys and Aliens and a plethora of shell companies to keep everything tucked away? He seems to have dropped out of sight as far as Platinum goes, although he’s been backing some stuff on Kickstarter according to his Facebook page.

Rosenberg also published Malibu Comics, which, as we’ve been often told by Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso, will never ever be revived at Marvel despite Marvel having bought the company back in 1994 (20 years ago!!!). No one knows exactly why this is, as an NDA is involved, although there is some speculation by informed parties if you scroll down in this post. I’m guessing it has something to do with Rosenberg.

So yeah, all that struggle for…nothing. It seems the sad, crazy story of Platinum may finally have faded away to dust.

Comments

  1. Interesting update, Heidi. I’ve been wondering where all that was heading.

    A minor note: Malibu published Men In Black, so it’s not tied in any way to Platinum.

    I don’t have any insider knowledge about why Marvel won’t revive the Malibu properties–so my own Platinum NDA doesn’t apply–but I’ve spoken with a number of people over the years, since leaving Platinum, and the best guess (at least I think it’s the best guess) is that Marvel won’t revive the Malibu properties because there’s outside profit participation tied to their use, profit participation Marvel doesn’t want to pay.

    Also, for those coming late to the party, even though Platinum did not publish most of what they had in development (it still breaks my heart), they did finally publish a number of titles.

    There are several that deserve to be remembered, because they fit the original concept of Platinum’s publishing program, which was to support the independent comics creator vision.

    I worked on hundreds of properties, most of which never got published. There were a lot of titles published after I left that I had nothing to do with. But I recommend to even the discerning reader the following titles:

    “Alien Circus” by Dave Roman and L. Frank Weber (3-album-sized books)
    “The Big Amoeba” by Art Baltazar (one-shot OGN)
    “Blood Nation” by Rob Moran and James Devlin (mini-series)
    “Nightfall” by Scott O. Brown and Ferran Xalabarder (one-shot OGN)
    “Super Larry” by Andy Mangels and Dan Thompson (one-shot OGN)
    “Watchdogs” by Fred Van Lente and Brian Churilla (one-shot OGN)
    “The Weapon” by Fred Van Lente and Scott Koblish (mini-series)
    “Unique” by Dean Motter and Dennis Calero (mini-series)

    Some of these came to us as concepts from the creators, and I worked with them to develop them; others were short internal concepts that the creators embraced and made their own.

    And this one came to us nearly done, and it is REALLY funny:
    “Alien At Large” by Bob Keenan and Rich Larson (one-shot OGN)

    If anybody can find these titles, they’re well worth a read.

  2. Torsten Adair says:

    So Marvel is doing to Malibu what Platinum is doing to creators?

    Many (most? all?) of Platinum’s comics are available as e-books, which probably keeps the publication rights locked away for eternity.

    As for the acquisition, a share is currently selling for $0.0002 (two one-hundredths of a cent). 5000 shares a dollar. So with 439.69M shares outstanding, one could acquire all stock for … $87,938.

    For that, you get the rights to IP which can be optioned or developed in a variety of ways. Option two or three properties, and the investment has paid for itself.

    Dunno what sort of millstones or dead albatrosses come with that ownership. Probably nothing a good copyright lawyer couldn’t handle.

    I wonder how much Wizard World would cost… Hey, lookee thar! They’ve posted their 2013 financials!
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/wizard-world-releases-2013-end-141100141.html

    $0.36 * 50.87M = $18,313,200 market cap

  3. For what it’s worth, I’ve also overheard from a few sources that Malibu’s (right and proper) creator-participation deals are to blame for Marvel banishing the characters to limbo.

  4. Jason, if you scroll down to the comments by Tom Mason on the matter linked to above, you’ll see that this seems to be a cloaking device for the real reason.

  5. majorjoe23 says:

    In the link in Heidi’s post there’s a comment from Tom Mason saying the creator-participation deals weren’t out of the ordinary with anything other companies offer, and that they deal with things like movie rights, not individual issues.

  6. Please correct me but I thought the original MIB comics were published by Aircel. Then Marvel published 3 issues when the first movie came out. When did Platinum ever publish MIB?

  7. Tom Mason says:

    Hi Bob — Men In Black was published by Malibu Comics under the company’s Aircel imprint. It was originally a creator-owned comic from writer Lowell Cunningham. I posted about the history of MIB here: http://goo.gl/b13NQK You have to scroll down a bit to get to my comment.

  8. Snikt Snakt says:

    Everyone knows Marvel only bought Malibu to get their hands on their digital coloring dept.

    You really think they’d be interested in their handful of crappy titles, that only survived as long as they did b/c every POS in the 90’s sold like hot-cakes?!?

  9. Tom Mason says:

    Then everyone would be wrong Snikt Snakt. Marvel bought Malibu to keep it out of the hands of DC and to preserve Marvel’s marketshare. It had nothing to do with the coloring department. Read the story at the link here and scroll to comments #13 and #14. http://goo.gl/ThVp4B

  10. Ok but that still doesn’t answer my question. What claim does Platinum have to MIB?

  11. Dave Miller-lad says:

    This is sad. I’ve had brushes with 2 different people claiming to represent Platinum and feel I escaped relatively unscathed. (Also, someone claiming to represent MTV. But that’s another story).

    As a fan and as a, well, human being, it’s depressing to see people prey on artists dreams like this. I know they will say “it’s just business”. Except for the lying. Comics people grow up on a diet of characters that don’t misrepresent themselves. The heroes are the heroes and the villains are the villains. You know who will try to take you. Not so in hollywierd.

  12. Tom Mason says:

    @Bob: I don’t believe there’s an official claim, but a blurry claim to bolster Platinum’s credibility. When Scott Rosenberg was at Malibu Comics, he helped broker the deal for the Men In Black movie and while never a producer on the film or credited in any way, he’s used that association to his PR advantage. Men In Black was published by Mailbu Comics, Scott Rosenberg owned Malibu Comics, the movie became a big franchise, now Scott Rosenberg owns Platinum. Could lightning strike twice? It’s fuzzy business puffery.

  13. Sadly, I think only the first volume of “Adventures of Tymm/Alien Circus” was actually released to comic shops, even though Volumes 2 & 3 were printed. They were all released digitally I think?

    I know that’s a lot better than many of the other Platinum books (many of which sounded cool).

  14. Oh. Makes sense in a shady sort of way. Thanks.

  15. Torsten Adair says:

    Dave, Alien Circus is available digitally via Amazon and iTunes (and Nook, and Wowio…)

    The Platinum website actually works rather well.

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