Monday, August 31, 2009

Disney Buys Marvel, What Happens Next?

Disney today acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in stock and cash.

American company Marvel Entertainment has a toy division and various overseas businesses, along with subsidiaries including Marvel Publishing, which publishes Marvel Comics; and film and TV production business Marvel Studios, which has already released "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk" and is working on "Iron Man 2," "Captain America," "Thor" and "Avengers."

Disney chief executive Bob Iger said: "Adding Marvel to Disney's unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation."

Marvel shareholders would receive a total of $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own.

Under the deal, Walt Disney Co. will acquire ownership of Marvel including its more than 5,000 Marvel characters, including "The Fantastic Four," "Spider-Man," the "X-Men," "The Incredible Hulk" and "Iron Man," all of which have been turned into highly valuable feature film franchises.

Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter will remain responsible for deciding where Marvel properties show up within the Disney world, including video games, online content and television.
Iger stated that along with internal discussions about developing synergy between Marvel and Disney properties, there have also been meetings between Pixar and Marvel about potential projects.

"The group got pretty excited pretty fast," said Iger. "Sparks will fly."

Presumably this will NOT mean we are going to see Spider-Man meeting Mickey Mouse; Snow White and the X-Men; or Beauty and the Hulk...

One problem is that Marvel doesn't currently own the film rights to a few of there major heroes. 20th Century Fox has "X-Men," "Fantastic Four" and "Daredevil;" Universal has "Namor the Sub-Mariner;" and Sony has "Spider-Man" and "Ghost Rider."

Disney will continue to honor Marvel's third-party deals with 20th Century Fox, Sony and Paramount, but will look to bring everything in-house as those deals expire.

"It clearly would be in our best interest if we ended up as the sole distributor," Disney CEO Robert Iger said during a conference call this morning. "When you distribute your own films, the opportunity is even better."
Many superhero fans have for some time been vocal about wanting Marvel to regain control of all its characters so that film adaptations are as respectful of the comic book source material as possible.

Whether Disney will be able to claw back those rights remains to be seen, but it will no doubt be one of the main hopes of the fan community.

Others fear that Disney's ownership and control will have a negative impact on the Marvel superhero world.

According to PaidContent, you shouldn't expect any big changes regarding Marvel's theme park presence. Disney CFO Tom Staggs said the company wouldn't be making “some distinct and separate effort” when it comes to setting up something like a specific section in Disney theme parks or standalone Marvel parks.

The boards of Disney and Marvel have both approved the transaction, but it requires an anti-trust review and the approval of Marvel shareholders.

I don’t see there being any problem with the anti-trust review nor do I see the marvel shareholders turning up their noses to such a fantastic offer. Most likely, later this week, we should see final word on the resolution of this agreement.
So what does this mean to comic books fans? Well, it could be both very good and very bad at the same time. Let’s look at some quick pros and cons shall we?

Pro - Disney is a universal name with very deep pockets. Marvel is no slouch either in the household name department - but let’s face it, they are no Disney. All that extra money means way more marketing and increased traffic within the theme parks.

Con - With movies like "Iron Man 2," "Spider-man 4," "The Incredible Hulk 2," "Thor ," "The Avengers" and "Captain America" on the horizon, what does this mean for their development? "Iron Man 2" is already in full swing so I doubt we see any type of delay with that one, but with no other pre-production or principle photography under way on some other films, could we see some eventual delay(s)?

The comics community has reacted to the deal with quite a bit of skepticism thus far, but word from the Marvel camp is that the deal could open more doors than it closes for the so-called "House of Ideas."

What do you think of this tremendous event in Marvel/Disney history? Does this herald good things for some of our favorite superheroes or is the partnership a bad sign for the comic book publisher?

And that's just the tip of the iceberg—more and more questions will emerge as news of this partnership sinks in.

More news to come! Catch ya' later!
Sources: The Geek Files, Screen Rant, MTV News (1,2), Press Release

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