Originally Posted by Mr. Dent
By the time Artisan went under Marvel was fine. They were actually in a bid to acquire them at one point but were outbid.
Artisan went under in 2004, at which time Marvel was definitely on the upswing. I agree, it's unlikely that the studio "bundled" them under unfavorable existing contracts. So if we assume that Deadpool and the Surfer both came over to FOX from New Line and Artisan, respectively, around 2005, how the heck do these contracts work? I came up with a couple of possibilities:
A) Deadpool and the Surfer were "bundled" under their existing character families at FOX. (unlikely)
B) Both characters were sold in 2005 as the headliners of independent character families, requiring a solo movie to be released by FOX. If a Deadpool or Surfer film isn't released within a set period of time, the rights revert.
C) Deadpool and the Surfer were "lead" characters at their former studios, but under the 2005 agreements with FOX they are strictly "supporting" characters. FOX extended the rights by incorporating the characters into XMO:W and RR:ROTSS, and can extend the rights further by featuring them in the proposed X:Force spin-off and FF reboots.
Once we clear this up we can start working on Namor.
Edit: It could also be D) FOX had written into their X-Men and FF contracts rights of first refusal to buy the Deadpool and Surfer rights for a previously agreed upon price when their prior agreements ended.