In the year 2000, comic book movies were just beginning to come back to life again. Needing a well known property, Sony's decided to go with a live-action Spider-Man film produced by Columbia Pictures. As the movie was being planned, producers decided to go for a realistic Peter Parker, and that included having him be into more nerdy things.
“The producers of the Spider-Man movie thought Peter Parker would be the type of person who would play Magic,” said Magic Marketing Director Scott Rouse. “In December 2000, the Spider-Man movie production team contacted us looking for Magic and D&D items to place in Peter Parker's bedroom.”
At the time, Wizards of the Coast had just released the new Invasion set. As it was, Spider-Man producers were also not demanding money to have product placement in the movie. They just thought it fit Parker, and seeing how Invasion was the newest set, maybe they could generate some post-set buzz for it. It would be a win-win for all parties involved.
“I jumped at the chance to get Magic products in a sure-to-be blockbuster movie about one of the best superheroes ever,” remembered Rouse. “That same day I sent a package of cards, novels, binders, and posters off to Columbia Pictures.”
After that, it was almost like radio silence. The movie was shot and the release date was quickly approaching. Neither Rouse nor anyone else at Wizards of the Coast heard back if any D&D or Magic items were in it. A sneak peak in Wizard Magazine in September of 2001 confirmed a D&D poster, but it looked like Magic was left out. That is until when it came out the next year.
The poster had made it after all. It was only for a few seconds, but it was in a key scene where he first finds out he has powers, which is about as marquee as it can get for product placement (let alone unpaid product placement).
While there was no official word on if it increased sales, it sure as heck increased their profile. In the following years Wizards of the Coast was much more willing to have their properties used in other films, such as Magic’s prominent appearance in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
It sounds odd, but thanks to Spider-Man, Magic has been making a larger presence in the public consciousness through movies more and more.