New World Pictures--a maker and distributor of low-budget but high-profit films ranging from "Godzilla 1985" to the current "Soul Man"--agreed Thursday to buy Marvel Entertainment Group in a move that will extend the Los Angeles-based firm into comics publishing and TV animation.
Terms of the acquisition from Cadence Industries Corp., a holding company rapidly liquidating its assets, were undisclosed, but the price was understood to be between $40 million and $50 million. The deal is expected to be completed before year-end.
Marvel Entertainment includes New York-based Marvel Comics Group, Marvel Comics Ltd. in Britain and Marvel Productions, which makes animated features at studios in Van Nuys.
Though it is the third-largest producer of TV animation, Marvel is probably best known for its comic-book characters, who include Spider Man, the Incredible Hulk and the X Men--described as do-gooder teen-age mutants.
"What Marvel really is to us is an idea factory," said Harry Evans Sloan, who is co-chairman with Lawrence L. Kuppin of New World. "The opportunity to exploit those ideas with New World's existing motion picture and theatrical operations is very exciting.
"These characters are well known among the youth of the world," he said.
In addition, Sloan said, Marvel's Van Nuys operation will complete New World's "television profile," which includes offerings on both prime-time and weekday TV, by putting its animated programs on Saturday morning schedules. New World's current TV productions include the continuing daytime soap opera "Santa Barbara" as well as the prime-time series "Sledge Hammer" and "Monte Carlo," a miniseries featuring actress Joan Collins.
Sloan and Kuppin, law partners specializing in the entertainment industry, bought New World Pictures in February, 1983, from Roger Corman, who founded the company in the 1970s. New World went public in October, 1985.
After a $4.8-million loss in 1983, the company reported successive profits of $366,000 in 1984, $5.1 million in 1985 and nearly $6 million for the first nine months of 1986.
Marvel reported revenue of $73 million last year.